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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Big Match Preview

Colchester United vs. Sheffield Wednesday
Saturday August 14, 15:00, Weston Homes Community Stadium

Two sides hoping to be involved towards the top of League One this season meet at the weekend as Sheffield Wednesday make the trip south to face Colchester United.

For the visitors, it's their first away trip of the season as they adjust back to life in the third tier following relegation from the Championship in May.

While the hosts, who competed for a top six position last season but ultimately missed out on the cut, will be hoping to be in and around the play off challenge again.

It's been a summer of change in Essex as boss Aidy Boothroyd left the club after less than a year to take charge at Championship team Coventry.

United turned to his assistant, the experienced John Ward, to take over at the helm and are hoping he can repeat his success at Carlisle - when he took the Cumbrians into the League One play offs in 2008.

They started the season with a topsy turvy 2-2 draw at Exeter where, having fallen behind early on, two goals in as many minutes from Anthony Wordsworth turned the match in their favour.

However, a late leveller from Richard Logan prevented the U's from travelling back from Devon with all three points - and Ward will be looking to lift his side from that disappointment for the visit of the Owls.

He will also hope they can maintain the excellent home form they displayed at the Weston Homes Community Stadium last term - winning 15 and losing just three of their home matches.

Notable names in the Colchester team include midfield duo Kem Izzet and David Perkins, and strikers Ian Henderson and Kayode Odejayi - who provide an awkward front duo for opposition defences.

Young striker David Mooney, on loan from Reading, also bagged a brace in their League Cup 3-0 win at Hereford in midweek and will be hoping for a start at the weekend.

If he selected though, he'll face a difficult time against Wednesday - one of the pre-season favourites for promotion straight back up to the top two divisions.

Alan Irvine's side got their season off to the perfect start at Hillsborough last weekend, too, as they comfortably saw off minnow Dagenham & Redbridge 2-0.

Sheffield Wednesday boss Alan Irvine is a man under pressure this season

It was the kind of high-pressure and potential banana-skin affair that the Yorkshire club will have to get used to this season with expectations of success high amongst supporters.

They also successfully negotiated their way past Bury in the League Cup on Tuesday night - to continue their 100 per cent start to the campaign.

Irvine will know that continuing that good start is essential - not least to help him remain in a job. Fortunately, his summer recruitment means the Owls are blessed with one of the strongest squads in the division.

Particularly up-front, where the likes of Clinton Morrison, Marcus Tudgay, Paul Heffernan, and on-loan Neil Mellor offer an embarrassment of riches that's the envy of the rest of League One.

Wednesday also have a blend of midfield strength and creativity in the form of summer signings Chris Sedgwick, Gary Teale, and Giles Coke.

Whether a squad high in quality can handle the tag of being one of the favourites remains to be seen - and a trip to Colchester should provide them with a stern examination.

Both sides have got off to promising starts to the season - and United will be keen to claim the scalp of the Owls. However, I think this one may end all square.

Nobes' Prediction: Colchester United 1 Sheffield Wednesday 1

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