Colchester United 0 Cambridge United 0, match report: stalemate in East Anglian derby
PUBLISHED: 16:54 01 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:39 01 January 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Colchester United 0 Cambridge United 0
Colchester United extended their impressive run to just two defeats in their last 17 matches, although they had to make do with just a point at home to Cambridge this afternoon.
John McGreal’s men had the better of the first half, but the visitors gained the ascendancy after the break and looked the likely more winners, until a late flurry of chances from the hosts.
Drey Wright squandered the best of Colchester’s first-half opportunities, while Tom Eastman, Kurtis Guthrie and Ryan Jackson all went close during the final quarter-of-an-hour.
But at least this was a third clean-sheet on the bounce for the promotion-chasing hosts.
After a quiet opening, with both sides rather feeling their way, there was a promising moment when Sammie Szmodics burst through onto Mikael Mandron’s pass on 10 minutes.
The U’s leading scorer made room for himself in the box, but his final shot was charged down.
A mix-up between keeper David Forde and his defenders gifted Drey Wright a chance in the 13th minute. However, Wright’s angled drive flew into the side-netting, so leaving the 22-year-old still waiting for his first goal of the season.
A minute later and the hosts were threatening again. Mandron headed on a long throw by Ryan Jackson, in the direction of Frankie Kent, whose effort on the turn was scuffed wide of target.
Cambridge registered a rare goal attempt in the 24th minute, leading scorer Uche Ikpeazu, who had scored the winner in the 1-0 success over Colchester at the Abbey Stadium, having a shot blocked by Cole Kpekawa.
Left-sided centre-half Kpekawa enjoyed a good first half-hour back in the starting line-up, one of two changes to the side who had played the four previous matches.
Sean Murray was the other to enjoy a rare start, with Brandon Comley and Kyel Reid given a much-needed on the bench after the flurry of festive fixtures.
Wright was presented with another scoring chance in the 28th minute. He charged into Tom Lapslie’s well-weighted pass, only for keeper Forde to make a smart save low down.
A third opportunity fell to Wright on 35 minutes, and this time his firm header was parried by Forde, on his goal-line.
And a fourth soon followed, with Wright slicing a 20-yarder wide from Kane Vincent-Young’s cross.
Into the second half and Cambridge were on the attack in the 51st minute. In fact, Ikpeazu should have better from Jevani Brown’s cross, only to head behind him rather than in the direction of the goal.
Shortly afterwards and Walker was forced into his first real save of the afternoon, smothering Brown’s shot from 15 yards out.
The home side had appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Craig Breakspear on 55 minutes, after Vincent-Young’s strong run ended with him lying on the deck following a defensive challenge.
Just after the hour mark, Walker made the save of the afternoon by launching himself to his right to palm away a stinging drive by attacking midfielder Brown.
Colchester were second best for long spells of the second half, although Tom Eastman did slice a shot narrowly wide of the near post, after being set up by centre-half partner Frankie Kent on 75 minutes.
Substitute Guthrie also went close, five minutes later, escaping his marker to home in on goal before cracking in a low shot which flew agonisingly wide of the far upright, while Ryan Jackson warmed keeper Forde’s hands with a rasping 25-yarder.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Jackson, Eastman, Kent, Kpewaka, Vincent-Young, Lapslie, Murray (sub Comley, 69), Wright (sub Guthrie, 60), Mandron (sub Hanlan, 78), Szmodics. Unused subs: Gilmartin, Reid, Slater, James.
CAMBRIDGE: Forde, Halliday, Taylor, Legge, Carroll (sub Dunk, 86), Taft (sub Azeez, 52), Maris, Brown, Amoo (sub Elito, 43), Ikpeazu. Unused subs: Mitov, Osadebe, O’Neil, Davies.
Referee: Craig Breakspear (Surrey)
Attendance: 4,789 (777 away fans)