Stoke City V Colchester
The Britannia Stadium
Saturday 28 April
The fourth-best attended league in the world draws to an exciting conclusion for Colchester United and Stoke City in this Campionship fixture.
With Southamton, Stoke and Colchester all going into the game level ob 69 points and anyone up to 10th place take still make the top six, a win is vital for some addeded time during the U's maiden strint at the level. Somewhere, hearts will be broken...
Stoke: “This club has a very weak entomic base and, unless we can change, the club doesn’t have a long-term future in terms on top-flight football. That means better season-ticket sales, commercial income, better everything.
“At the moment, our income puts us in the bottom end of the Championship, but here we are in the top third of the table on the field.” – Chairman, Peter Coates
Colchester: “I think Stoke’s strength lies in their organisation.” “They play in banks of four and the thing that swung it in our favour in the home game was that we scored first.” “It’s important that we don’t go in gung-ho and leave ourselves open at the back.” – U's manager, Geraint Williams
Stoke Team News:
Stoke are boosted by the return of fit-again Salif Diao, who has recovered from a groin injury after and re-gained sharpness after a week of intensive training.
And while defenders John Eustice and Dominic Matteo will miss out, the Potters welcome Lee Hendrie back into the fold after he had injections this week in his knee.
Darrel Russell is pushing for a recall, having emerged from the bench during the past two matches, and Carl Dickinson will again deputise at left-back for the missing Andy Griffin (leg).
Player to watch: Lee Hendrie
The becalmed beast is Stoke’s biggest attacking threat from midfield, although has a worrying and undeniable talent for self-destruction.
Kem ‘Hatchet Man’ Izzet will also want to know how long it has been since his Ferrari last had a clean, too…
Colcester Team News:
Colchester’s only doubt is midfielder Johnnie Jackson, who will undergo a late fitness test on the ankle injury that forced him to depart the field during the first half during the emphatic win against Sunderland.
U’s sub for Jackson that day, Hogan Ephraim, is expected to “step up and wear the shirt with pride” again, according to manager Williams and will slot in on the left hand side if Jackson is not risked to give Stoke a lesson in tango on the ball.
Ever-present defender Wayne Brown will continue in defence, meaning he is yet to miss any second of the season so far.
(Probable) Gerken; Duguid, Brown, Baldwin, Barker; Garcia, Izzet, Watson, Ephraim; Iwelumo, Cureton
Player to watch: ‘Big’ Chris Iwelumo
Did you see his header against Leeds on Easter Monday? Class. Especially after his torrid afternoon against Michael Grey at the back that day. What about his back-heal against Norwich in the box? Fantastic.
The big man spent four years, with loan spells in between, at Stoke and wants to score against them today. He’ll get a good reception, after giving up the chance to represent Scotland’s-B side to help them win promotion in 2002, and should add to his 36 Colchester goals to date.
Sing up today; it might make him renew his contact!
Match Facts & Stats
Stoke or Broke?
Stoke Last five games: WWWDD
Colchester Last five fames: WWWDW
The last game of the season, the 1pm kick-off at home to Crystal Palace, is already a sell out.