U's set to face old boys tonight

COLCHESTER United will come face-to-face with a couple of old boys at Gillingham this evening.

Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United will come face-to-face with a couple of old boys at Gillingham this evening.

Garry Richards, who came up through the youth ranks at Layer Road, will be determined to snuff out his old club's attacks from the heart of defence in this Carling Cup first round tie.

And ex-U's keeper Scott Barrett will be plotting his former club's possible downfall from the sidelines, in his capacity as assistant manager to Paul Stimson at Priestfield. This double act had earlier been in charge, with considerable success, at Grays and Stevenage.

Richards perhaps suffered more than most from the U's promotion to the Championship three seasons ago. The Romford-born defender struggled to make an impact at this higher level, and was eventually transferred to Essex neighbours Southend for £50,000, a victim of Colchester's success.

But U's fans will always remember Richards for his triumphant appearance as a substitute at home to Preston on January 30, 2007, when he celebrated his first ever senior goal with a headed winner against the Lilywhites (1-0), within five minutes of his introduction.

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Earlier in the day, Greg Halford had signed for Reading in a deal worth more than £2m The 22-year-old, after 20 league appearances for the U's and then 10 league games for Southend, moved to Gillingham for an undisclosed fee during the transfer window last January. He made 14 appearances in the second half of the campaign and started in the opening day 1-1 draw at Bournemouth on Saturday.

Barrett, meanwhile, was the U's keeper during their two seasons in the Conference between 1990 and '92. In fact, Barrett was ever-present during those two campaigns.

He ensured that his name will go down in U's folklore by scoring a bizarre goal at promotion rivals Wycombe Wanderers on September 28, 1991, when his goal-kick sailed into the net. The U's won 2-1.

Barrett's landmark goal was to prove crucial in the final analysis, because the U's went on to pip Wycombe on goal difference to return to the Football League.

He left Colchester to join Gillingham in 1992, and also went on to play more than 100 games for Cambridge United. The 45-year-old is now the Gills No. 2.