Notts County travel to Colchester on Saturday in Sky Bet League Two action.
The Magpies are looking to bounce back from a New Year’s Day defeat to Oldham and pick up their first win of 2019 at the JobServe Community Stadium.
The festive period wasn’t a kind one for Notts who took just one point from a possible nine and currently prop up the League Two table.
Colchester had an equally challenging schedule over Christmas, with exactly the same results as Notts from their outings.
A 2-1 defeat at home to Stevenage on Boxing Day was followed by a goalless draw with Morecambe in front of their own fans, before a 2-0 loss at Crawley on New Year’s Day – sounds familiar, right?
That run saw the U’s drop out of the play-offs for the first time since the opening weeks of the season.
Notts could climb out of the relegation zone with a win and Colchester can return to the top seven if they take three points on Saturday.
“Colchester have been very good and had a strong start to the season so I’m sure the blip they’ve had over Christmas won’t last.
“They have some really good players and try to make the pitch big so we need to work as hard as we have against Bury and Tranmere recently.
“We’re running more in the last few weeks and if we are focused, show the right energy and defend well we can beat anyone.
“We need to start picking up points quickly and I will do everything in my power to build the right mentality and momentum that will carry us through.”
U’s boss John McGreal says…
“This is a really tight division and Notts County are a huge club that are scrapping for their lives so it’ll be a difficult game for us.
“We feel a bit hard done by recently and the only way to change that is to continue to work hard and that’s what we intend to do.
“It’s a test of character for all of us as we’re now the chasers because we find ourselves out of the top seven for the first time in a number of months.”
Defenders Keston Davies and Ben Hall have returned to their parent clubs but new loan signing Ben Barclay is available for selection straightaway and will push for a start at centre-back.
Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain misses the match through suspension so Notts will hope Matt Tootle has recovered from the injury that forced him off at half-time of Tuesday’s loss to Oldham.
Tom Lapslie has been a key part of the Colchester midfield this season and signed a new contract earlier in the week.
Winger Aaron Collins’ loan has come to an end, Frankie Kent is suspended after being sent off at Crawley and captain Luke Prosser came off injured on New Year’s Day.
We’ve met before
Notts have lost just once in their last 12 meetings with the U’s, winning 10, with the most recent clash ending goalless on the opening day of this campaign.
The Magpies came from a goal down at the break to run out 3-1 winners last time they visited Colchester with Jonathan Forte, Shola Ameobi and Richard Duffy getting the goals in April 2018.
The afternoon’s officials
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Assistants: Garry Maskell and Michael Webb
Fourth official: Marc Wilson
Elsewhere in League Two
Notts are the only side in the bottom five to be playing away this weekend.
Sol Campbell’s unbeaten home record with Macclesfield will be tested by Swindon, while Yeovil will hope to end their nine-game winless run when they host fourth-placed Bury.
Cambridge – who travel to Meadow Lane next weekend – look to bounce back from their 6-0 defeat at MK Dons on New Year’s Day when Stevenage visit the Abbey Stadium, while Morecambe face Crewe at the Globe Arena.