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Cardiff home form under Slade key ahead of Colchester cup clash

Colchester United could continue their FA Cup run, a rare escape from League One struggles, as third round hosts and Championship club Cardiff City have lost their last two outings in front of their own fans, and failed to win since the end of November.

The Essex outfit are 6/1 match outsiders with Coral, but raised their game in the last round to beat Peterborough United. Prior to defeats at the hands of Watford and Brentford, the Bluebirds boasted an unbeaten home record under new boss Russell Slade, however, and are thus odds-on 4/9 favourites to win.

A draw in the Welsh capital, which would mean a replay in Colchester, is a 10/3 chance. The visitors are improving, a fact evidenced by two clean sheets in as many away outings, and they are temptingly long at 7/1 to shut Cardiff out here.

Slade is expected to shuffle his pack because of the festive fixture pile-up. Long-serving Bluebirds playmaker Peter Whittingham has a goal against Colchester on his CV, and is always worth backing in the anytime market (13/5 here) as he is deadly with dead balls.

Republic of Ireland winger Anthony Pilkington could return from a hamstring problem, and he is slightly better value than Whittingham to net here at 14/5.

Kenwyne Jones, meanwhile, has scored in both of the Bluebirds’ two home games over Christmas, so take tempting odds of 7/2 for him to grab the opener, or be on target last.

Cardiff will have to be wary of West Ham academy products George Moncur and Freddie Sears. The former scored a late winner over Posh in round two, and is a 5/1 anytime scorer chance to break from midfield again.

Sears, meanwhile, is Colchester’s leading marksman with 12 across all competitions. He is 13/5 to add to this haul here and end a seven-game goal-drought.

It’s a long cross-country trip for the Essex outfit, though, and odds for a Bluebirds victory with both teams scoring are tasty at 11/5.