Stevenage corrected their bad record against nearby Colchester by doing the double over the Essex club last season.

Who will come out on top this time?

 

Colchester’s cup heroics

Colchester United’s season started poorly, taking a paltry two points from the first 12 available.

Their hugely impressive EFL Cup exploits, however, appear to have kicked their league campaign into life with one defeat in their last seven domestically.

John McGreal’s side knocked out two Premier League sides in Crystal Palace and Tottenham – the latter ironically being defender Luke Prosser’s boyhood club – and those wins were so important.

The club is getting a lot of things right off the field in terms of sustainability but, in a fourth season in the fourth-tier due to three unsuccessful Play-Off pushes, fans needed to see a bit more excitement on the field.

The cup victories give the club and even the town belief, something to take pride in and a tangible sign of progress – perhaps from here, they can start to mount a promotion challenge.

They have a nice mix of youth and experience; Toms Eastman and Lapslie are only 27 and 23 respectively, but have been part of the senior team for a combined 13 years now and have become senior figures, while Frank Nouble and Dean Gerkens bring knowhow too, having spent a lot of time in the top two divisions.

Beyond that core, Colchester look to develop young talents like skilful wide forward Courtney Senior who, given a touch more consistency at this level, can have a very good career in the EFL.

 

Stevenage’s struggles

Stevenage remain winless in League Two, with five points from their first 11 games.

Last season, they had plenty of battling qualities but did not possess a clear playing identity and some felt the better results papered over the cracks.

This year, they have attempted to move towards a style but it has not worked as hoped.

On the plus side, Jason Cowley has looked bright since reaching full fitness, following his move from Bromsgrove Sporting.

Elliott List, who signed on an undisclosed fee from Gillingham, looked bright in the 1-1 draw at Cambridge last time out too as well as fellow recruit Charlie Carter who, having played in non-league with Woking, is slightly raw in certain areas of his game but continues to steadily improve.

 

The Tactics Board

Colchester have completed 4329 passes this season, the sixth-most in the division, yet had just 125 shots, the fifth-fewest and scored 12 goals, the joint-eighth fewest.

In other words, the U’s are averaging 35 passes per shot and 361 passes per goal, so clearly they have difficulty cutting teams open.

Stevenage, too early into their season to be desperate for results but not playing well enough to impose their game in full away from home, are likely to set up relatively defensively.

They will try to counter-attack through Cowley and List supporting likely pantomime villain Kurtis Guthrie, but their primary aim will be to protect the back-line.

 

The Betting Angle

Colchester and Stevenage have scored 19 goals between them across a combined 22 games and their Expected Goals For (xGF) data reads 0.95 and 0.99 respectively, yet the hosts are 15 places higher.

Seemingly the most likely outcome, therefore, is Colchester coming out on top in a low-scoring encounter.

Tip: Colchester to win and Under 3.5 goals

Odds are correct at the time of posting

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