In front of a deserted Layer Road terrace, Tony English shields the ball from a Plymouth Argyle opponent on the opening day of the 1995-96 season.

Despite the backdrop in the picture perhaps suggesting otherwise, a crowd of more than 3,500 turned up to see stalwart English and his Colchester United team-mates get the new Endsleigh League Division Three campaign off to a winning start.

The U’s beat Plymouth 2-1, thanks to goals from Simon Betts and Adam Locke which cancelled out Adrian Littlejohn’s consolation.

Steve Wignall’s side also featured the likes of Mark Kinsella, Tony Adcock and Steve Whitton, whose season was to be cut short by an injury suffered the following month.

Indeed, it proved to be a productive start to the season for Wignall and his troops, who claimed seven points from a possible nine in their opening three games.

Colchester got the bragging rights against Plymouth in their curtain-raiser and claimed four points out of a possible six against the Pilgrims, that season.

However, Neil Warnock’s side were to have the last laugh.

The two clubs faced one another in the play-offs, after the U’s sneaked into the top seven on the final day of the season thanks to a 1-0 home triumph over Doncaster Rovers.

And although Mark Kinsella’s goal gave the U’s the advantage heading into the second leg at Home Park, a late goal in front of a crowd of 14, 525 in the second leg at Home Park secured Plymouth a 3-2 aggregate victory.

It was a controversial affair, with Warnock sent from the dug-out, prompting him to jump into the crowd to watch the remainder of the match with the home supporters.

Plymouth went on to win promotion after beating Darlington at Wembley, with Colchester left to reflect on a seventh-place finish.

The U’s play-off spot was sealed thanks to a strong finish to the campaign, which saw them suffer just two defeats in their final 16 league games.

One of the reasons for their impressive late-season form was Kinsella’s goalscoring exploits and the Irish midfielder finished with seven goals, in that campaign.

It led to Kinsella being named the club’s Player of the Year, while striker Tony Adcock finished as Colchester’s top scorer in that campaign, with 17 goals.

Preston North End finished as champions that season, with runners-up Gillingham and Bury also earning automatic promotion to the third tier.