DANNY Cowley believes the trip to play in-form Harrogate Town this weekend will be Colchester United’s biggest test since he took over.

The U’s are four games unbeaten in League Two but come up against a Sulphurites side who have lost only one of their last ten matches and are only currently out of the play-off positions on goal difference.

U’s boss Cowley said: “It’ll be a really good test of exactly how far we’ve come.

“I think it’s our biggest test, in terms of the quality of the team that we’ve played to this point.

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“So there’s a lot to respect for the opponent but for us, it’s just a great test a game we’re really looking forward to.

“We get the opportunity to show ourselves against one of the best teams in the division.

“I have a lot of respect for Simon Weaver and Harrogate Town and the job that they’ve all done.

“To come through the divisions like they have and to establish Harrogate Town as a Football League club and now to be flying at the top end of this division I think is credit to everybody.


“I think there’s a lot to like – they have a togetherness and a real spirit and even when they have to sell players, they’re able to replace them.

“In recent times, they’ve lost (Luke) Armstrong, one of the best target men in the league and I think as a consequence of him going, they’ve actually adapted to the way that they play and they’re now more of a possession-based team, who like to play through the thirds and draw the press on and play over the press and play over the front.

“They’re a really humble team and I know a couple of their boys – Jack Muldoon who’s one of the greatest professionals we’ve worked with, Matt Daly was a young boy at Huddersfield when we arrived and is now in my opinion one of the best tens in the division."

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Weaver, who has today been named the Sky Bet League Two Manager of the Month for January, has been in charge at Harrogate since 2009 and is currently the longest-serving boss, in the top four divisions.

He has plenty of success in the time he has been in charge and led Harrogate to the Football League for the first time in the history via the play-offs, in 2020.

“Simon is someone I’ve got to know well," added Cowley.

“We speak on the phone and when they were coming through the divisions, I was always picking his brains on players.

“I think he’s done a brilliant job at that club with incredible achievements, to firstly get Harrogate into the Football League and then to really establish them as a Football League club.


“I think this season, the stats speak for themselves with only one loss in the last ten games and really, really good away from home and more recently, their home form has been very good as well.

“We know what to expect – 4-2-3-1 and they’ll want to dominate the ball, play through the thirds, like to draw you on.

“We understand the challenge in front of us and it’s a really great time for us to play Harrogate."