Colchester boss Hayden Mullins expects a much tighter contest against Barrow AFC today than the five-goal encounter at Holker Street earlier in the campaign.

The Essex outfit edged that game in September and now face the Bluebirds at home in a key clash at the wrong end of League Two.

Barrow sit two places and a point above third-bottom Colchester, for whom today’s game is a first home match in six.

Mark Cooper’s side also head into the game on the back of their nine-goal FA Cup epic at Barnsley.

Speaking about the Bluebirds, Mullins said: “They’ve lost [Offrande] Zanzala and they’ve got an injury concern around [Josh] Gordon, so the front two that we face will be different.

“I’m sure that they’ll want to come to our place and get a positive result and set up right but they also won’t want to open it up too much.

The Mail: Colchester won 3-2 at Barrow in September (photo: Mark Fletcher / MI News)Colchester won 3-2 at Barrow in September (photo: Mark Fletcher / MI News)

“When we played them earlier in the season, there were five goals that night and we came out on top – it was a slim one but we came out on top.

“It was a very positive and strong performance from ourselves, going down to ten men and scoring after that was an excellent way to win the game.

“We hope we keep it tighter at the back [today] and hope for a similar scoreline in terms of goals.

“If we can do that, it’ll be a good day for us. “I don’t think either club will want as open a game as the one we had up there.”

Colchester could welcome back Freddie Sears and Armando Dobra after they missed the midweek defeat to Forest Green.

Frank Nouble, Miles Welch-Hayes and Shamal George are also close to returns after injuries.

Mullins admitted an important game is in store and added: “One of the positives is that we’re at home and hopefully, it can help us get a positive result.

“It’s been a long time and it’s definitely something we can build on, from the outset.

“We know where we are in the table and we know where Barrow are. The three points would put us above them and we need to start putting wins together and runs together and we want to start doing that as soon as we can.

“We’re going to attack the game from the outset and be nice and positive and hopefully get the result we want.”