Writer: StevieG Col U
Date:Friday April 25 2008
Stoke City are the last ever visitors to Layer Road, as they lock horns with the U's tomorrow.
The U's will be looking to go out on a high following last week's dreadful defeat to Coventry. It is the end of an era for the U's as they prepare to move to their new 10,000 all-seater stadium at Cuckoo Farm next season.
Not only is it a big day for Gertaint Williams men, but his fellow Countrymen Tony Pulis could see his side promoted. The Potters can seal their route to the Premier League, if they beat the U's and Hull loss to Crystal Palace.
U's boss Geraint Williams told The Colchester Gazette: 'We have to put the fact that it's the last game at Layer Road out of our minds.
'Stoke are a strong side and they will come to us looking for promotion to the Premier League.
'They're a big physical, very well-organised side.
'They cause you a lot of problems from set pieces, throw-ins and corners and we have to stand up to that.
'That will be a big test and it's been proven by their results this year that people haven't been able to handle that.'
Stoke manager Tony Pulis, who is good friends with the U's chief, told The Sentinel: 'George (Geraint) did a fantastic job last year. Then he lost Jamie Cureton and Chris Iwelumo, who scored something like 40 goals for them. If you take 40 goals out of any team, you'll struggle.
'On the basis they had got promoted, they were on a roll and had a good start in their first year in the Championship. They've found it a bit tougher this year.
'If they have aspirations of getting back in the Championship next year - which I know they will - I think it's time for them to move on (from Layer Road).
'They understand that and I'm sure George will be looking forward to getting this game over with and moving on next year.
'But they have decent players who could cause us problems if we're not right on it.
'The biggest thing we have to be wary of is that they lost their last game 5-1.
'I know how competitive George is and he'll have them fired up.'
On-loan U's defender Matt Heath (groin) should feature, after missing last weekend's defeat to Coventry.
Veteran striker Teddy Sheringham (foot) is back in full training and could play.
Irishman Mark Yeates, Pat Baldwin and Aiden Davison (all shoulder) are long-term absentees.
Elito has been an impressive figure for the U's since making his debut at Crystal Palace, so much so that he has attracted the attention of the Premiership.
The left-winger will be hoping to put in a good performance, once again.
City are hopeful that Mali front-man Mamady Sidibe (ankle) will be passed fit to play, if not Shola Ameobi could start.
Dominic Matteo (foot) is pushing for return, while Salif Diao (hamstring) is close to full-fitness.
Full-back Andy Griffin (hamstring) misses out.
Sidibe should feature after an ankle injury, and is good form following last week's brace over Bristol City.
The 6ft 4in target man will be looking to cause the U's backline problems.
Last time out against The Potters:
6th October - The Britannia Stadium
Stoke 2 (Shawcross 8, Lawrence 73)
U's 1 (Platt 58)
The U's lined up: Gerken, Duguid (Balogh 33), Baldwin, Virgo, Elokobi, Granville (Guy 77), Jackson, Izzet, Yeates, Lisbie, Platt.
Referee: Kevin A Friend - From Leicestershire.
Yellow Cards: 92
Red Cards: 8
Assistants: J D A Hopkins and G R Russell
Fourth Official: J P Magill
I'll go for a 3-2 U's win!
The U's face Scunthorpe away on Sunday week.
Date:Friday April 25 2008
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