U's fail to catch the Shrimps cold in stalemate
PUBLISHED: 16:52 29 December 2018 | UPDATED: 16:55 29 December 2018
© Copyright Stephen Waller
Colchester United 0 Morecambe 0
Colchester United’s frustrating festive period continued, with a goalless stalemate at home to lowly Morecambe this afternoon.
The Shrimps had lost their previous four away games, but they looked solid at the Jobserve Community Stadium, rarely giving the U’s a sight of goal.
Coming just three days after the 2-1 home defeat to Stevenage, this made it five points dropped from a possible six in two home fixtures from which manager John McGreal would have hoped for a far bigger haul.
Shrimps keeper Mark Halstead was rarely troubled throughout the afternoon, so the U’s will have to up their game when they travel to Crawley Town on New Year’s Day.
The closest they came to a goal was in the 87th minute, when Kane Vincent-Young’s stunning shot cannoned back off the inside of the far post. That was a great effort, and really deserved a goal.
The U’s showed two changes to the side that were beaten 2-1 by Stevenage on Boxing Day. Centre-half Tom Eastman and midfielder Harry Pell dropped to the bench, with Vincent-Young and Brandon Comley in to replace them.
The hosts searched for an early goal, but Luke Norris could not get enough power behind his low drive on two minutes.
Morecambe had a sight of goal on 10 minutes, although lone strike Ajay Leitch-Smith’s shot was charged down by left-back Vincent-Young.
Sammie Szmodics scooped a 20-yarder over the top for the U’s, but otherwise there was little to enthuse over during a rather dour first quarter of the game.
The Shrimps had a half-chance when Frank Nouble felled Jordan Cranston with a strong challenge. The advantage was played, because the ball broke for Leitch-Smith, but his shot trickled wide of the far post.
There was a better chance for the visitors, on the half-hour mark. Gilmartin did well to parry a long-range bullet from Cranston, only for the onrushing Rhys Oates to blaze the rebound high and wide from a promising position.
Morecambe defended very well in the first half, and even when Szmodics had an opportunity to shoot goalwards from Nouble’s cross, he was block-tackled by left-back Luke Conlan when about to pull the trigger.
A frustrated Norris cracked a shot over the top, on 41 minutes, but otherwise the Shrimps looked fairly comfortable, often with 10 men behind the ball.
The visitors had a chance to break the deadlock, early in the second half. The U’s failed to clear a corner delivered by former U’s loanee Liam Mandeville, only for Oates to see his free header fly wide of the far upright.
Vincent-Young brought the crowd to life with a wonderful run, just before the hour mark. He did well to keep the ball in play, before getting to his feet to beat three defenders and crack in an angled drive which was clawed away for a corner by keeper Halstead.
Still the U’s could not really get out of first fear, Norris pulling a shot wide of the near post in the 70th minute, while at the other end substitute Kevin Ellison tested Gilmartin with a well-struck 25-yarder, although it was aimed straight at the U’s keeper.
COLCHESTER: Gilmartin, Jackson, Prosser, Kent, Vincent-Young, Lapslie, Comley (sub Pell, 73), Nouble, Szmodics, Dickenson (sub Senior, 63), Norris (sub Mandron, 73). Unused subs: Barnes, Wright, Eastman, Gondoh.
MORECAMBE: Halstead, Yarney, Old, Lavelle, Conlan, Kenyon, Mendes Gomes, Cranston, Oates (sub Ellison, 73), Mandeville (sub Oswell, 73), Leitch-Smith (sub Thompson, 89). Unused subs: Szcezpaniak, Mills, Brownsword, Hedley.
Referee: John Busby (Oxon)
Attendance: 3,653 (71 away fans)