Carlisle United 1 Colchester United 1: Courtney Senior strikes, but U’s are held to a draw in Cumbria
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Carlisle United 1 Colchester United 1
Courtney Senior’s third goal in just six league appearances, for Colchester United, was not enough to force an away-day win in Cumbria this afternoon.
Senior struck in the 44th minute with the opening goal, but Jamie Devitt salvaged a point for Carlisle via 79th minute free-kick.
The opener was from a clinical break by the U’s, stemming from Carlisle’s own free-kick which was punched to safety by Sam Walker.
Mikael Mandron brought the ball forward and found Ben Stevenson, who in turn sent Kurtis Guthrie powering goalwards with just keeper Jack Bonham to beat.
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Bonham managed to block Guthrie’s rather weak shot, but the loose ball fell kindly for Senior, who planted the rebound into a gaping net from 12 yards out.
The U’s looked fairly comfortable during the second half, until Devitt curled a delightful free-kick into the top corner of the net, with 11 minutes remaining.
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Mandron struck a post late on, but John McGreal’s men could not fashion a winner.
The U’s made a bright start and they threatened from an early free-kick, with Tom Eastman’s low drive being cleared from inside the six-yard box.
Senior, fresh from his man-of-the-match performance against Newport last weekend, nearly sneaked through via a one-two with Mandron on 12 minutes.
But the ball ran away from him at the vital moment and keeper Bonham scooped up.
Only an instinctive save by Walker denied Carlisle an opening goal in the 18th minute.
Former U’s loanee winger, Jamal Campbell-Ryce, swung over a teasing cross to the edge of the six-yard box, where striker Cole Stockton’s firm header was brilliantly turned away by the acrobatic Walker.
That was a wonder save.
Four minutes later and Walker was called into action again, this time diving low to his left to palm away Mike Jones’ long-range shot, down at his near post.
At the other end, Frenchman Mandron rather scuffed an angled drive that rolled a couple of yards wide of the far upright, on 25 minutes.
On the half-hour mark, Drey Wright whipped over a dangerous cross into the danger zone, where veteran defender Clint Hill stuck out a boot to divert the ball over his own bar.
Walker made his third fine save of the first period in the 32nd minute. He launched himself to his right to turn away a 20-yard firecracker from Stockton.
And Walker’s acrobatics paid dividends at the other end when Senior calmly slotted the U’s into the lead, just before half-time, after Guthrie’s initial shot have been blocked by keeper Bonham.
Into the second half and Ryan Jackson was twice denied by smart saves from Bonham, on 47 and 51 minutes, before Guthrie limped off injured, to be replaced by Liam Mandeville for his U’s debut.
Carlisle did not threaten in the second half until the 69th minute, when Luke Prosser pushed Kris Twardek just outside the penalty area. The ensuing free-kick, taken by Devitt, beat Walker but flew off the top of the bar and ballooned to safety.
Four minutes later and ex-Braintree Town winger Twardek volleyed a good chance over the bar, from Devitt’s delivery.
But Devitt came good in the 79th minute, guiding a free-kick into the roof of the net after Prosser had felled substitute Reggie Lambe just outside the box.
Debutant Mandeville nearly conjured up a winner in the 85th minute, but his strong run ended with a cross which James Brown cleared off his goal-line.
Seconds later and only the woodwork denied the visitors, as Mandron’s rising shot cannoned back off the post.
CARLISLE: Bonham, Brown, Liddle, Hill, Parkes, Etuhu, Jones (sub Lambe, 67), Campbell-Ryce (sub O’Sullivan, 78), Devitt, Twardek, Stockton (sub Bennett, 72). Unused subs: Gray, Hope, Ellis, Nadesan.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Eastman, Prosser, Kent, Jackson, Comley, Stevenson (sub Murray, 80), Wright, Senior (sub Szmodics, 72), Mandron, Guthrie (sub Mandeville, 55). Unused subs: Gilmartin, Lapslie, Inniss, Ogedi-Uzowke.
Referee: Ross Joyce (Yorks)
Attendance: 4,006 (144 away fans)