NEWPORT County AFC need to get back to their feisty best if they are to bounce back against an aggressive Colchester United side scrapping for League Two survival, says coach Joe Dunne.

The Exiles are hunting a win in Essex that would take them onto 58 points, hitting manager Graham Coughlan's target of beating last season's tally.

It would also keep them in the mix for the play-offs, with seventh-placed Crawley having a four-point lead and a game in hand, but they face a U’s side who are looking to stay in League Two.

Colchester are a point above the relegation zone and have three games in hand on Sutton and two on Forest Green.

They are fighting for their Football League status and that means the Exiles need to avoid a repeat of their performance at Barrow last weekend, which led to Coughlan criticising his team for a “lack of hunger and desire”.

South Wales Argus: Newport County assistant manager Joe DunneNewport County assistant manager Joe Dunne (Image: PA)

“Over the course of the season there has been a real focus on our energy,” said his right-hand man Dunne. “We know that there are things we need to improve on if we are not quite at it.

“The disappointment from Barrow was, as the gaffer said, we were slightly off it in certain moments. That was the same for both teams in a close game in difficult conditions.

“Getting back to what we are good at is needed at Colchester with the duels that we pride ourselves on winning – the first and second balls – and playing with a lot of energy.

“At times that was certainly missing at Barrow but we have spoken about that and realigned the team to what we are good at.”

Colchester remain in trouble despite appointing Danny and Nicky Cowley, who exploits in getting Lincoln to League One earned jobs at Huddersfield and Portsmouth, in January.

However, the Essex side have proved to be a tough nut to crack as they showed when drawing at leaders Mansfield last weekend.

Colchester’s lack of wins has hurt them – they have drawn eight of their last 11 with a solitary success and two defeats – but they scrap.

South Wales Argus: Colchester boss Danny CowleyColchester boss Danny Cowley (Image: PA)

“Colchester have improved the duel percentage since they have come in and they are in games, which you can see from their results,” said Dunne.

“They have a way of playing and have increased their aggression and they stay in games a lot better, which is evident with a lot of draws.

“They are more competitive for sure, but we pride ourselves on challenges and aggression in games.”

Friday’s game is extra special for Dunne, whose family home is still in Colchester after he played and coached the U’s.

“It’s my hometown club and one that I represented for many years as a player and a coach, from youth development all the way up to manager,” said the Irishman.

“It’s always a buzz to go back and it’s nice to see people that I have a lot of respect for, with ex-players that I played with.”

Dunne will hope to make the short trip home after three points before returning to Newport for Monday’s Rodney Parade clash with Crawley.

Good Friday fixtures: Accrington v Morecambe, AFC Wimbledon v Harrogate, Barrow v Grimsby, Bradford v Tranmere, Colchester v Newport County, Crawley v Doncaster, Forest Green v Stockport, Gillingham v Crewe, Milton Keynes Dons v Walsall, Salford v Sutton, Swindon v Notts County, Wrexham v Mansfield.