Colchester face even match up with Exeter
In the first League Two play-off, a game for nearly three months, Colchester United host Exeter City. Can Exeter make the final for the third time in four years? Have a read of our preview here:
Colchester's key men agree to play
Oh boy is it ever great to get some League Two football back on the cards again. It seems like ages since a spherical object was kicked in earnest on a fourth-tier blade of grass and any return is to be welcomed considering the situation.
The pandemic has not been without cost for the home side, however, with Colchester already releasing key players in Ryan Jackson, Frank Nouble and captain Luke Prosser as the cost-cutting measures were taken early.
The good news is they have all agreed to return to the club and see out the play-off campaign, huge credit to them for doing so considering they are being let go and playing is not without risk of injury.
Management duo John McGreal and Steve Ball are experts at blooding young talent, so it will be no surprise to see them dip into the youth ranks to help fill out the squad next season.
Yet some of the young players to have broken into the side this year have already shown their metal. Kwame Poku is an exceptional talent having really come into his own this season.
Cohen Bramall is probably the fast things on two legs and Theo Robinson is a key contributor in attack, Southend agreeing to let the attacker return for the play-offs.
They will feel, after a season that saw a 16-game unbeaten run, a trip to Old Trafford and some exceptional performances, that they have an excellent chance in the post-season.
Exeter in familiar surroundings
Despite there being no crowd at Colchester for this game, Southend fans will argue no one will notice the difference, Exeter have the fourth-best away record in League Two.
The Grecians have been very solid under the guidance of Matt Taylor, rarely looking out of form. Prior to the lockdown, they hadn’t won in four games but the break should have refreshed them.
Two of their playing squad did test positive for COVID-19, so it remains to be seen whether that will have any impact on who is available for the first-leg, yet with a squad depth at least as good as the other top sides in the division, they should be fine regardless.
Randell Williams has been the headline grabber, leading the fourth tier in many important attacking statistics, Nicky Law is a consistently top performer at this level and Aaron Martin has been excellent at the back without getting a lot of attention.
Johnny Maxted has been superb in net before suffering an injury, the break should see him back between the sticks, while Brenan Dickenson will face his old club for the second time since arriving in Devon.
Let’s hope for a good game of football which is watched by a bumper audience at home.
Colchester United v Exeter betting tip
As much as everyone would love this to be a high scoring thriller, emulating the play-off semi-finals of 2017/18, it’s hard to see there being a lot of goals in this one. That’s why we are backing it to finish with under 2.5 goals at odds of 1.68 with 888sport.