Colchester United hit woodwork three times in a frustrating draw at Crawley
Crawley Town 0 Colchester United 0
Colchester United hit the woodwork on no fewer than three occasions as they were held to a goalless draw at fellow strugglers Crawley Town this afternoon.
George Moncur struck the post and Freddie Sears rattled the bar in a first half which the U’s completely dominated.
Sammie Szmodics actually headed home the follow-up from Sears’ effort, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
The visitors were also in the driving seat in the second period, and the unlucky Sears had a rasping shot cannon back off the inside of the post on 56 minutes.
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But try as they might, Tony Humes’ men could not find the goal to beat Crawley, who have now gone 10 games without a win.
As a result, the U’s stay in the relegation zone going into the new year.
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The U’s showed just one change to the side that lost 2-1 at home to Gillingham on Boxing Day. Szmodics, who had scored as a second-half substitute in that game, was preferred to Craig Eastmond in the middle of the park.
And Szmodics had a half-chance early on. He received Sears’ excellent through ball, but was robbed by right-back Lewis Young before he could shoot.
Only the woodwork denied the U’s an opening goal in the 10th minute. Good build-up, featuring Sears and Gavin Massey, ended with Moncur’s 10-yard shot cannoning back off the foot of a post, with keeper Brian Jenson well beaten.
Crawley were looking unsettled at the back, during these opening exchanges, perhaps not surprising when considered that they had just one specialist defender in an otherwise makeshift back four.
And more hesitancy in the home back-line allowed Elliott Hewitt to whip over a dangerous cross on 15 minutes. Sears ran onto the ball, on the edge of the six-yard box, but his control let him down and the chance went begging.
It was one-way traffic and Szmodics earned a free-kick, on the left-edge of the penalty area. David Fox’s low, unorthodox delivery was only half-cleared, and Massey’s first time shot flew just the wrong side of the near post.
Crawley struggled to get going, and Sam Walker had nothing of note to do during the first half-hour.
Home striker Izale McLeod, who had a short loan spell with the U’s back in 2008 –
his stay was cut short by a broken leg – did have a shot deflected wide off a defender on 23 minutes, while left winger Gwion Edwards pulled a shot off target just five minutes later.
The luckless U’s were denied by the woodwork for a second time in the 32nd minute. Sears’ initial shot was deflected onto the bar, from just eight yards out, and although Szmodics slotted the rebound into an empty net, the assistant referee’s flag had already been raised for offside against the teenage midfielder.
Into the second half and Kaspars Gorkss chopped down McLeod, just outside the box, only for Conor Henderson to lift the ensuing free-kick well over the bar.
At the other end, Sears looked odds on to score from close in on 49 minutes, but his goal-bound shot was superbly palmed away by Jensen.
Six minutes later and Sears was thwarted by the woodwork yet again. He trapped Tom Eastman’s fine long pass before curling his shot beyond Jensen, the ball ricocheting off the inside of the post and rolling to safety.
The final half-hour was more even, with fewer chances, although Moncur tested Jensen with a low shot on 86 minutes, the Red Devils keeper saving with ease.
The U’s also had an effort cleared off the goal-line in stoppage time – it was certainly not their day!
CRAWLEY: Jensen, Young, Walsh, Elliott, Bawling, Edwards (sub Banya, 78), Smith, Henderson, Miller, Harrold (sub Tomlin, 46), McLeod. Unused subs: O’Connor, Richefond, Isaacs.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Clohessy, Eastman, Gorkss, Gordon (sub Kpewaka, 78), Fox, Moncur, Szmodics, Hewitt (sub Watt, 74), Sears, Massey. Unused subs: Lewington, Eastmond, Healey, Bonne, Lapslie.
Referee: Pat Miller (Beds)