Match Preview: Colchester United (H)
EFL League Two
Saturday, September 17, 2016 – KO 3.00pm
Team News: Barnet have long-term absentees in Michael Gash, James Pearson and Gavin Hoyte. Physiotherapist Luigi Cerullo gave an update from the treatment room earlier this week which can be read by clicking here.
Last Time We Met: The two teams have not faced one another since 2011 – when the Bees won 3-1 at the Colchester Community Stadium in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – and have not contested a league fixture since 1998 when the U’s ran out 3-1 winners at Layer Road in the old Division Three.
Ricky Holmes gave Barnet a seventh-minute lead in Essex back in August 2011 before Pat Baldwin levelled the tie nine minutes later. Parity lasted just three minutes before Izale McLeod put the visitors back in front.
McLeod was sent off 20 minutes after the break but Lawrie Sanchez’s side still managed to add a third through Steven Kabba with 16 minutes remaining.
The Bees’ run in the Trophy would continue to the area final where they were beaten 2-1 by Swindon Town over two legs.
Manager: Former Tranmere Rovers and Ipswich Town centre-back John McGreal, 44, was appointed as the U’s sixth manager in the last six years after succeeding Kevin Keen at the end of the 2015/16 campaign.
Keen left by mutual consent after Colchester were relegated to EFL League Two for the first time since 1998. McGreal was subsequently handed the reins for the final game of the season – a 2-1 defeat to Rochdale – but assistant Steve Ball was in caretaker charge.
Born in Birkenhead, McGreal began his playing career with local side Tranmere Rovers before moving to Suffolk to join Ipswich Town in 1999. In his first season with the Tractor Boys McGreal reached the Premier League by winning the old Division One play-off final 4-2 against Barnsley.
After two seasons in the top flight and a UEFA Cup campaign, McGreal and Ipswich were relegated. He remained at Portman Road until 2004 before spending three years at Burnley.
Dangerman: Striker Chris Porter, 32, has bagged three goals in his last three outings for the U’s and notched a brace on Saturday as John McGreal’s side beat Blackpool 3-2 at home.
The Wigan-born forward spent the early part of his career at Bury and Oldham Athletic before sealing a move to the Scottish Premier League with Motherwell in 2007.
Two years in Scotland saw Porter score 23 times in 55 league starts, earning a switch to Derby County under Nigel Clough. But he never got going at the iPro Stadium and in 2011 was released before joining Sheffield United.
Porter’s time at Sheffield United was frustrating and he made almost as many appearances from the bench (41) as he did starts (47) in League One.
Loan moves to Shrewsbury Town and Chesterfield preceded a switch to Colchester in January 2015. Porter has netted 17 times in 52 starts for the U’s.
Connections: The U’s have former Barnet youth team goalkeeper Dillon Barnes on their books. The 22-year-old was named as a substitute for the Bees on 15 occasions between 2012 and 2014 but never made a first-team appearance.
He joined Fulham after leaving The Hive and spent a year with the Whites, featuring on loan at Farnborough. In 2015 he briefly joined Southern League Division One Central side Bedford Town.
In the summer of 2015 he signed for Colchester after impressing on trial. He was due to make his professional debut for the U’s in the final game of last season but was caught in traffic and missed out. This summer Barnes signed a new three-year deal.
Another keeper at Colchester with ties to the Bees is first-choice Sam Walker. The 24-year-old made seven appearances for Barnet in 2011 while on loan from Chelsea.
Walker also had loan spells with Northampton Town, Yeovil Town, Bristol Rovers and Colchester (twice). He joined The U’s permanently in 2014 and has made more than 100 appearances for the club in total.
Last Time Out: Colchester made up for the disappointment of defeat to Exeter City by beating Blackpool 3-2 at the Colchester Community Stadium.
After former Leyton Orient striker Armand Gnanduillet had put the visitors in front, Sammie Szmodics and Chris Porter scored either side of half time to give the hosts the advantage.
Porter added a second six minutes from time only for Brad Potts to reduce the arrears shortly after. Colchester held out, though, and recorded their third home win in four games.
Colchester United: Walker; Brindley, Eastman, Prosser (c), Kinsella; Wright, Lapslie, Guthrie, Dickenson; Porter, Szmodics.
Ticket Info: Supporters can book in advance by clicking here. Alternatively, arrive early at The Hive and purchase on the day.