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Aug 8, 2015 at 3pm UK at Colchester Community Stadium
ColchesterColchester United
Gilbey (22'), Ambrose (56')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Cullen (18', 45')

Preview: Colchester United vs. Blackpool

Sports Mole previews the League One fixture between Colchester United and Blackpool.

Colchester United will look to start their League One campaign as they finished the last, with a home victory.

However, they entertain a Blackpool side who endured a nightmare season that saw them drop out of the Championship and with the fans at loggerheads with the club's hierarchy over their running of the Tangerines in recent years.

Colchester United

George Moncur of Colchester United celebrates his goal during the pre season friendly match between Colchester and West Ham United at Weston Homes Community Stadium on July 21, 2015© Getty Images

The U's retained their League One status in dramatic fashion with a final-day victory over Preston North End.

Since that day, Colchester boss Tony Humes has tried to bolster his squad by adding the experience of Darren Ambrose, after the midfielder's release by Anglian rivals Ipswich Town.

United's late-season form helped set up that last-day escape, with the Essex club taking eight points from a possible 12 to finish.

New recruits from around League One may see the Blues dodge another fight for survival, but recent history suggests that United are perennial strugglers in the division.

The U's have finished in the bottom half in each of the last three seasons and two of those campaigns have seen the team narrowly avoid relegation.

Recent form: LLDWDW


Supporters of Blackpool protest against chairman Karl Oyston at the beginning of the second half during the Sky Bet Championship match between against Cardiff City at Bloomfield Road on October 3, 2014© Getty Images

The fact that the club were relegated by some distance might, in any other season, prove to be the biggest talking point for Blackpool fans, but events off the pitch have overshadowed their team's plight.

The Tangerines' last game of the fateful Championship campaign, which saw them finish bottom of the table, was abandoned after fans invaded the pitch at Bloomfield Road.

However, the lack of football appeared to be the last thing on the minds of supporters, who occupied the centre circle to vent their frustration at chairman Karl Oyston, with one masked spectator even trying to break into the director's box.

Days before that abandoned fixture, the club were criticised for removing a statue of Blackpool hero Stan Mortensen from outside the stadium, reportedly in a bid to take away a focal point for protesters.

During pre-season, fans invaded the centre circle again during a friendly at Lancaster City, which inevitably led to the match being called off.

A group of fans have constructively tried to take matters into their own hands over the off-season with a takeover bid for the club, which owner Owen Oyston said he was "seriously considering".

The ongoing stand-off may not be good for the club's league fortunes, with a suspended three-point deduction hanging over them for that Huddersfield abandonment, but they will be looking to arrest a woeful away run, having failed to win on their travels through the 2014-15 season.

However, a narrow defeat at Cardiff City as well draws against Ipswich Town and Reading in the run-in may, at least, give Blackpool hope of rediscovering their form when they resume life in the third tier.

Recent form: DDLLLL

Team News

Darren Ambrose for Ipswich Town on January 4, 2015© Getty Images

Ambrose could make his Colchester debut, having had a full pre-season to prove his fitness at Ipswich ahead of the start of this campaign.

Humes may also look to bring fellow recruits George Elokobi, Matthew Briggs and ex-Yeovil Town player Joe Edwards into the fold.

The Tangerines have new signings of their own, with Emmerson Boyce leaving Wigan Athletic after nine years, and the defender could make his competitive debut for the club.

With manager Neil McDonald unveiling his squad numbers on Thursday, there is a hint that Mark Cullen and Jack Redshaw could form his first-choice strike force this term.

Colchester United possible starting lineup:
Parish, Brindley, Kent, Wynter, Vincent-Young; Ambrose, Edwards, Moncur; Massey, Porter, Bonne

Blackpool possible starting lineup:
Doyle, Boyce, Jones, Robertson, Ferguson, Osayi-Samuel, Potts, McAlister, Cameron, Redshaw, Cullen

Head To Head

One crumb of comfort for travelling Tangerines fans is Blackpool's record against Colchester, having lost only once away from home against the U's in more than 31 years.

In that period, there have been 10 draws between the sides, and the Fylde club have won only three at Colchester's old Layer Road ground, with the last meeting coming in December 2007.

However, in that fixture, United boasted one Teddy Sheringham in their ranks, although the ex-England international could do nothing for his team as a Scott Vernon brace saw the Seasiders win 2-0.

Sports Mole Logo

We say: Colchester United 1-0 Blackpool

The bookmakers have Blackpool as the outsiders in this one and it is hard to disagree with them at the best of times, let alone after the last 12 months the Tangerines have endured. The experience of Boyce at the back could help settle the much-troubled club down on the pitch. That said, we've gone for a narrow United victory.

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Yeovil's  Joe Edwards in action during the match against Burnley on August 17, 2013
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