Colchester United continue their League Two preparation and serve as the Fleet’s first higher-opposition test of pre-season in the Kuflink Stadium’s summer curtain-raiser this Saturday.
And it’s a game with a difference. Or should we say ‘games’, given the nature of the afternoon with two 60-minute contests allowing both managers to cast their eye over their squads and gain a deeper analysis than a regular 90-minute session. And fans get the two games for the price of one, too, so it’s certainly one to capture the imagination in the first of four home friendlies to come for the Fleet.
Colchester, with head coach Ben Garner having arrived after spells with Bristol Rovers, Swindon Town and Charlton Athletic, were of course visitors here last season. The two sides fought out a competitive 2-2 draw, with a strong U’s side taking the lead but needing to equalise in the second-half after Rakish Bingham had pounced twice to give the Fleet a 2-1 advantage.
A number of those Colchester players remain with them this season, not least ex-Fleet local boy and star academy graduate John Akinde, as well as goalscorer that day Noah Chilvers.
Garner took over the reins at Colchester in March, ensuring survival with a couple of victories in those closing weeks in a campaign that at one stage in October 2022 saw the club bottom of the pile and faced with relegation into non-league for a second time.
Colchester will be hoping for much more this time around and they kicked-off pre-season with a convincing 4-0 win at neighbours Maldon & Tiptree, with two different first-team sides taking to the field in each half.
New arrivals under Garner so far include former Exeter City skipper Matt Jay, along with full-back Ellis Iandolo (Swindon Town) and Southampton loanee Nico Lawrence. They also brought in several new faces in the January transfer window.
A couple of notable inclusions are Chay Cooper, a midfielder who scored against the Fleet for St Albans City last season on loan and who played for the Saints in the play-offs. Alongside him Alex Newby played for Chorley against us during our last spell in the National League while defender Will Greenidge returns to friendly duty at the Kuflink Stadium having been in West Ham U23 colours here last summer.
Please remember that the kick-off is at the earlier time of 1.00pm and that online tickets are available to purchase now at https://fleetlive.club – tickets on the day can be purchased at our ticket windows (but not turnstiles) before the match. Turnstiles open at 11am.
While this game is not segregated, we would remind fans that National League games will be subject to such rules and so there will be some Harris fencing moved into place throughout July at the Swanscombe End in preparation for next month.
Furthermore, alcohol will not be permitted in view of the pitch in the National League beginning August 12th so please be aware that this rule will be enforced from then at the start of our league fixtures.