Colchester United secure a point in Tony Humes’ first match at the helm

Walsall 0 Colchester United 0

Colchester United began life under new manager, Tony Humes, with a goalless draw at fellow strugglers Walsall in the West Midlands sunshine this afternoon.

Appointed last Monday, as a successor to Joe Dunne, 48-year-old Humes watched his side dominate for large periods, without being able to find a killer touch.

They came closest to breaking the deadlock early on, when Freddie Sears’ snap shot thudded back off the inside of a post.

Humes’ men continued to dictate, but could not convert any of their chances.

So the U’s are still searching for their first victory of the season, from seven league and cup starts. They have only picked up two points so far.

The U’s had to cope without target man Jabo Ibehre, who was sidelined through injury, so in came attacker Sanchez Watt for his first game of the season, following a knee problem.

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Walsall were missing eight first teamers. Liam Kinsella, the son of Mark Kinsella, who left his post as U’s assistant manager on the same day that Dunne departed, was given a start at right-back.

Only the woodwork denied the U’s taking the leading on 12 minutes. Freddie Sears turned to ram in a shot that beat keeper Richard O’Donnell, only to ricochet back off the inside of the post and roll to safety.

Just two minutes later and Walsall hit the woodwork themselves, with Tom Bradshaw’s deft header clipping the top of the bar and bouncing out of play, from ex-U’s loanee Billy Clifford’s free-kick. Bradshaw had already scored two goals in the first five games.

The U’s two full-backs combined in the 17th minute. Sean Clohessy controlled a squared pass from Ben Gordon, only to lash his shot over the top with his less favoured left boot.

Three minutes later and a mis-placed pass by Alex Gilbey put his side under pressure. Adam Chambers released Frenchman Mathieu Manset and then carried on his run, eventually getting on the end of the low cross but steering his shot wide of the near post from just six yards out.

The visitors had a couple of chances around the half-hour mark. Sears had a goal-bound shot blocked by centre-half Paul Downing, at point blank range, while George Moncur crashed in a shot over the top from distance.

United were getting on top and another opportunity went begging in the 33rd minute, Sammie Szmodics’ goal-bound shot was deflected wide off a defender, following Watt’s accurate delivery.

At the other end, Gilbey’s poor pass enabled Manset to charge through the middle, although his final shot whistled wide with Sam Walker untroubled.

Two minutes into the second half and the U’s had appeals for a penalty turned down, when Watt appeared to be fouled in the box by Paul Downing. But referee Pat Miller waved play on.

Chances then dried up with both sides struggling to hit the target, as summed up by Sears dragging a shot wide in the 75th minute.

Dominic Smith, a big young striker signed from Crewe over the summer, made his U’s senior debut as a substitute for Massey on 77 minutes.

Walker preserved a point for the U’s in the last minute of normal time, by diving to his right to divert Anthony Forde’s free-kick around his post.

Squads

WALSALL: O’Donnell, Kinsella, Downing, Taylor, O’Connor, Chambers, Flanagan (sub Benning, 77), Clifford (sub Baxendale, 57), Morris (sub Forde, 57), Manset, Bradshaw. Unused subs: Holden, Bakayoko, Henry, MacGillivray.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Walker, Clohessy, Okuonghae, Eastman, Gordon, Gilbey, Moncur, Szmodics, Massey (sub Smith, 77), Sears, Watt. Unused subs: David Wright, Eastmond, Lawrence, Vose, Kent, Lewington.

Referee: Pat Miller

Attendance: 4,009 (147 away fans)

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