Colchester United held to a draw by Phil Parkinson’s men

Colchester United 0 Bradford City 0

Colchester United were held to a goalless draw by Phil Parkinson’s stubborn Bradford City at the Weston Homes Community Stadium this afternoon.

The U’s created most of the better chances, and rained in shots from all angles, but they could find no way past keeper Jason Pickford.

The Bantams’ goal led a charmed life at times, with Freddie Sears in particular registering numerous goal attempts during a frustrating afternoon.

Although the U’s are still searching for their first home win of the season, this was another encouraging performance from Tony Humes’ side.

Bradford threatened first, on five minutes, when striker Aaron Mclean shrugged off the challenge of Ben Gordon inside the U’s box. The angle was tight, and Mclean’s snap shot was well gathered by Sam Walker, down on his haunches.

In the 13th minute, a poor kick from keeper Pickford saw Gary Liddle lose possession to Craig Eastmond. The U’s midfielder homed in on goal, before he was crudely brought to ground by Liddle.

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The Bradford midfielder picked up a yellow card, before Sanchez Watt’s curling shot from the ensuing free-kick was easily caught by Pickford, under his bar.

George Moncur came closer to a goal in the 17th minute. The West Ham loanee controlled superbly on the edge of the box before lashing in a goalbound shot which Pickford did well to palm over his bar.

Seven minutes later and Sears, who has made such an impressive start to the season, created a half-chance for himself by stealing behind the Bantams’ back-line.

The angle was very acute, but Sears still fired in a low drive on target that forced Pickford into a smart save.

Former U’s winger Mark Yeates, a member of Phil Parkinson’s promotion-squad of 2005-06, created space for himself just outside the penalty area on 28 minutes, but his final shot was deflected wide off the boot of Frankie Kent.

Bradford had been quick to close down U’s midfielders, and also get 11 players behind the ball at times, which made creating chances a real problem for the hosts.

Sears was looking the most likely to break the deadlock, and another of his instinctive shots flew into the side netting, from relatively close-in, just after the half-hour mark.

Into the second half and Yeates tried his luck with an angled drive which Walker did well to block, and then smother at the second attempt, on 50 minutes.

At the other end, Moncur teed up Sears for a shot, but the ex-West Ham attacker was unable to find a way past the solid Pickford, who saved with comfort.

A sparkling run by Watt, who scampered half the length of the pitch with right-back Stephen Darby trailing in his wake, set up another opportunity for Sears. Again the U’s striker unleashed a shot, but this time it flashed across the face of goal and wide.

Sears was within a whisker of scoring in the 64th minute. He charged onto Gavin Massey’s through ball and arrived before keeper Pickford, only for his shot to be cleared off the goal-line by the back-tracking Darby.

Sears was also taken clean out by Pickford in that move, which further frustrated the U’s.

In the 70th minute, Alex Gilbey’s deft header sent Moncur running down the middle on the breakaway. He finally squared for Watt, who was about to unload his shot when Gary Liddle intervened with a last gasp interception.

Sears was thwarted twice more before the 80-minute mark. Firstly, he ran onto Massey’s superb through ball, only for his shot to be deflected wide off centre-half Rory McArdle, and then seconds later keeper Pickford pushed away another shot from the dangerous Sears.

COLCHESTER: Walker, Clohessy, Kent, Eastman, Gordon, Moncur, Eastmond, Gilbey, Massey (sub Drey Wright 84), Sears, Watt. Unused subs: Lewington, David Wright, Bean, Lawrence, Vose, Bonne.

BRADFORD: Pickford, Darby, Routis, McArdle, Meredith, Kennedy, Liddle, Knott (sub Morais, 66), Yeates, Mclean (sub Bennett, 66), Clarke (sub McBurnie, 79). Unused subs: Williams, Wright, King, Webb-Foster.

Referee: Keith Hill (Herts)

Attendance: 3,524 (490 away fans)