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Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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29 December 2020 Venue JobServe Community Stadium Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Previews

Preview: Colchester United

29 December 2020

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2020 is brought to an end by Cheltenham Town on the road at Colchester United on Tuesday evening (kick-off: 7.45pm).

A testing year will be seen out under floodlights and behind closed doors at the JobServe Community Stadium.

The Robins will be looking to follow up a home draw with Stevenage on Boxing Day by ending 2020 on a high.

Colchester, like Cheltenham, reached the League Two play-offs last season and currently sit 11th in the division.

You can watch the match in full online by subscribing to an iFollow match pass.

Team news

There are no fresh injury concerns for Cheltenham heading into the match.

Conor Thomas and Sean Long both remain out but are making progress from their injuries. Goalkeeper Scott Flinders will miss out again so Max Harris will be involved.

Opposition

Play-off semi-finalists last season, Colchester were denied a place at Wembley when they lost to eventual play-off final losers Exeter City.

Manager John McGreal was shown the door and his former assistant, Steve Ball, is now in charge.

He has guided the U's to 11th place heading into Tuesday's game and they sit three points off the play-off places.

They are currently in a poor run of form though and have lost three times in a row with their latest defeat coming on Boxing Day against lowly Southend United.

Their squad includes experienced goalkeeper Dean Gerken and a defensive set-up that features the likes of New Zealand international Tommy Smith, the towering Omar Sowunmi and long-serving Tom Eastman.

In midfield areas they can call upon the likes of Ben Stevenson, Tom Lapslie, Courtney Senior and youngster Kwame Poku. Malta international Luke Gambin is another option in a wide area, however captain Harry Pell is likely to not be involved because of a knee injury he picked up in training a few weeks ago.

Their forward options include Jevani Brown who has 11 goals to his name this season. That included two hat-tricks in the space of a week in November.

Otherwise summer addition from Watford, Michael Folivi, could be involved. Two experienced strikers who look like they may miss out because of fitness concerns are Luke Norris and Callum Harriott.

The manager: Steve Ball

After four years spent as John McGreal's number two, Steve Ball was appointed as Colchester's Head Coach in July and it is his first managerial job in the Football League.

Previously though he's held managerial positions at Stanway Rovers, Clacton Town, Leiston and Maldon & Tiptree.

The 51-year-old was a former teammate of current Cheltenham assistant Russell Milton at Arsenal in his younger days at the beginning of a career that saw him have two spells as a player at Colchester.

The former midfielder also featured for Norwich City and Cambridge United before dropping into the non-league game with Sudbury Town, Heybridge Swifts and Long Melford.

His assistant is ex-West Ham United and Crystal Palace midfielder Hayden Mullins who last season had two spells as caretaker manager of Watford in their Premier League campaign where he had served as under-23s manager of the Hornets.

One to watch: Jevani Brown

Former Jamaica youth international Jevani Brown is enjoying a goal scoring campaign having netted 11 times in 25 matches for Colchester in what is his second season at the JobServe Community Stadium.

He's kicked on after a disappointing first season that saw him fail to register a single goal and he ended the season on loan at League Two counterparts Forest Green where he again struggled to find the net for the Little Club on the Hill.

The U's paid an undisclosed fee to sign him from Cambridge United in the summer of 2019 after he'd made the step up into the Football League in 2017 with Cambridge after several seasons playing in non-league with the likes of Barton Rovers, Kettering Town, Stamford and St Neots.

Though he has enjoyed a better showing in front of goal this season, he hasn't found the back of the net since mid-November, going without a goal in nine matches heading into Tuesday's contest.

Watch the match on iFollow

There may be no fans allowed into the JobServe Community Stadium on Tuesday evening but you can still check out all of the game by watching online.

Purchase a match pass on iFollow to enjoy the whole match online. A pass is available to subscribe to online at a price of £10.

Coverage

Stay up to date with goings on in Essex by following @CTFCofficial on Twitter. You can also keep up to date with the latest score and team news before kick-off on the CTFC Facebook page and Instagram account.

Once the game is over visit the club website to read a match report and to hear from boss Michael Duff.

You'll also be able to see on the club website, and on the EFL iFollow app, extended highlights of the action on iFollow.

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Match Reports

Report & highlights: Colchester United 0-0 Robins

29 December 2020

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Cheltenham Town signed off from one of the most challenging years in their history with a point in Colchester.

Again they were frustrated by their profligacy in front of goal despite creating a string of chances on a freezing night at the JobServe Community Stadium.

They didn't have it all their own way and Colchester could have nicked it but they struck a post and in truth, they never really looked close to claiming the win with Josh Griffiths largely untested.

Elsewhere league leaders Carlisle United's match at Harrogate Town – our opponents in four days time – was abandoned, as was Newport County's while Forest Green Rovers were beaten by Crawley Town so this was perhaps an opportunity missed.

But the bigger picture is that Michael Duff's men finish 2020 in a creditable fourth position with the prospect of an FA Cup third round tie against Mansfield Town, teeing up a fascinating new year at the Jonny-Rocks.

Despite the lack of goals the manager was satisfied with his side's performance after the game.

"I thought it was an excellent performance and we could have had three or four penalties to be honest," he said.

"We almost nicked it right at the end there and that chance probably summed up the game.

"It was similar to the Salford game; Colchester are also a good team so to have so much of the ball, and have so many chances was satisfying.

"There's a pressure that comes with creating so many chances but I'll take that performance every day of the week."

Duff made just one change to the side that were held by Stevenage four days ago, replacing Andy Williams with George Lloyd.

However there was an early blow when Matty Blair was withdrawn as early as the 10th minute after pulling up with an apparent hamstring injury. Tom Sang took his spot at right-wing back in a like-for-like move while the home side had to make a switch of their own midway through the opening 45 minutes when Michael Folivi limped out and Courtney Senior was pressed into action.

The first chance of the match fell to Noah Chilvers, who picked up a cleared corner only to watch watch his 20 yarder miss the target by a matter of inches. At the other end Lloyd went close to catching out Dean Gerken with a clever effort from an angle down the right although on this occasion, the U's number one did enough to clear the danger.

Cheltenham went on to enjoy plenty of the ball and created the lion's share of chances in the first half, forcing a couple of saves by Gerken while Alfie May had the ball in the back of the next with a lobbed effort but the assistant referee rule it out. Finn Azaz saw a header cleared on the stroke of half-time.

There were also four potential penalty shouts but the referee was not impressed and waved away the claims, much to the chagrin of Duff and his staff.

Liam Sercombe did not re-emerge for the second period after picking up an injury before the break and was replaced by Ellis Chapman in midfield, but despite the setback they continued to enjoy a lot of possession and force the home side into long periods of defending.

Cheltenham were almost caught out after 64 minutes when Kwame Pocu cut inside and rifled one in, only to watch it come back off the foot of there left upright.

Next Omar Sowunmi's downward header was cleared as the hosts began to grow into the contest but they couldn't force Griffiths into a meaningful save on the night.

Cheltenham piled on the pressure in the closing stages and Azaz forced a late save as the board went up for added on time. Hussey sent the resulting corner in and Charlie Raglan was a whisker away from snatching a win with a shot in the turn but it flashed wide of post.

COLCHESTER UNITED (4-3-3): Gerken; Welch-Hayes, Sowunmi, Smith, Clampin; Poku (Bohui 77), Lapslie, Stevenson; Norris, Chilvers (Cowan-Hall 85), Folivi (Senior 25). Subs not used: George, Brown, Cracknell, Tchamadeu.

CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): Griffiths; Raglan, Tozer (c), Boyle; Blair (Sang 10), Clements, Azaz, Sercombe (Chapman 46), Hussey; May, Lloyd (Williams 82). Subs not used: Harris (Gk), Bowry, Reid, Freestone.

REFEREE: D Rock

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