The Hatters entertain the Essex boys today at 3pm
The Hatters are in action at Kenilworth Road this afternoon when Colchester United are the visitors for a game that pits the fifth-placed Town against a side sitting 13th in the Sky Bet League Two table.
The Essex club are eight points adrift of Nathan Jones’ men but are on a run of good form, having won three and drawn one of their last four matches.
The Town boys are in fine nick too, however, losing just one of their last 13 league matches, two of 18 in all competitions and buoyed by a terrific performance in their last outing nine days when promotion rivals Blackpool were beaten 2-0 at Bloomfield Road.
Top scorer Danny Hylton didn’t net in the north-west, but he has 14 goals for the season and nine in his last 12 games. The 27-year-old has netted in each of his last three outings at Kenilworth Road.
Jack Marriott was on target at Bloomfield Road with his sixth goal of the season, while Cameron McGeehan headed in his tenth and was described in the build-up to Christmas as “the best attacking midfielder in the division” by his manager.
Writing in today’s matchday programme, Talk of the Town, boss Jones urged what is anticipated to be the biggest crowd of the season so far to roar his team onto another three points in the push for promotion.
“I hope that everyone had a great day yesterday and that the celebrations haven’t taken too much out of you to prevent you making it a real electric atmosphere inside this famous old ground today,” says the Welshman.
“It’s one of British football’s great traditions that the family get out of the house on Boxing Day to get some fresh air, and if we have anyone new here today among what’s expected to be our biggest crowd of the season so far, we hope to serve up a performance to entice you back.”
Playing for the first time in League Two since 1998, today’s visitors are slowly settling into life in the fourth tier since their relegation from League One last term.
The U’s were playing in the Championship as recently as 2008, but had been a comfortable third tier side since then, until they finished second bottom, ahead of Crewe Alexandra in the 2015/16 season.
Last season marked a period of managerial instability for the club, as no less than seven bosses patrolled the U’s touchline. One of those is now the current manager, John McGreal.
The former Tranmere Rovers, Ipswich Town and Burnley defender took charge of Colchester for one match last season, before taking over the reins permanently this season.
After a decent start to life in League Two, a ten-match winless run cost Colchester as they slipped down the table, but wins over Crewe and Cheltenham – scoring seven in the process without reply – pushed McGreal’s side within touching distance of the play-off places.
Their last two matches have produced a goalless draw with Mansfield and a 2-1 win over Notts County, to put them just below the halfway mark but four points off the top seven.
Chris Porter is Colchester’s top scorer with six goals so far this season, while fellow striker Kurtis Guthrie and defender Ben Dickenson are one behind on five.
The Town hold the upper hand in the 24 matches with Colchester, the first of which was a 3-1 win at Kenilworth Road in January 1964 for the Hatters. The Hatters have won nine, drawn nine and lost six times.
If you can't be at the game, make sure you follow the Town’s live updates wall on the club’s website here, or if you are a Hatters Player subscriber, tune in for Simon Pitts’ match commentary here.