Five talking points: Impressive Colchester United earn good point but the play-offs now look less likely

Chris Porter and Tom Eastman have their hands on their heads after a late free kick fails to yield a

Chris Porter and Tom Eastman have their hands on their heads after a late free kick fails to yield a winner against Plymouth on Saturday. Porter peppered the target all afternoon. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Here are five talking points from Colchester United’s 0-0 home draw against Plymouth Argyle on Saturday.

U's midfielder Sean Murray goes over the top of Plymouth substitute Paul Garita during last Saturday

U's midfielder Sean Murray goes over the top of Plymouth substitute Paul Garita during last Saturday's 0-0 draw at the Weston Homes Community Stadium. Picture: STEVE WALLER - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

In a nutshell

Colchester United really needed to beat already-promoted Plymouth Argyle, to give themselves a better-than-even chance of making the play-offs.

And they were unlucky not to achieve their aim against title contenders who were on the ropes, but able to avoid being floored by a killer blow.

A win for the U’s would have left them just one point and one place adrift of the play-offs, with two very winnable games remaining at already-relegated Leyton Orient and against lowly Yeovil.

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A haul of six points from six would probably have been enough for John McGreal’s men to finish in the top seven, but now those chances seem very slender.

Not only are they three points off the pace, but they have also dropped down to 12th in the table, due to the large number of play-off candidates.

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The U’s created the better of the scoring opportunities against a Plymouth side boasting the best away record in League Two, with an impressive 13 wins on the road.

The Devon travellers rarely looked like celebrating away win No. 14, because they spent most of the afternoon on the back foot, soaking up some intense pressure.

Chris Porter squandered several good chances to celebrate his 16th goal of the season, heading wide in the first half from a great position, and then peppering the target with a shot-on-the-turn and also a deft header from Richard Brindley’s free-kick, both late on.

Tarique Fosu, again one of the U’s best performers, set the tone by curling a shot narrowly over the bar inside the first three minutes. He was also pained to see his angled drive skid past the far post in first-half stoppage time.

At the other end, Sam Walker had a relatively comfortable afternoon on his way to an 11th clean-sheet from 44 league games

The closest the Pilgrims came to a goal, which they hardly deserved, was when Graham Carey released Antoni Sarcevic, who fired across goal and wide with Walker at full stretch.

The second-half was one-way traffic, with the hosts searching for that vital winner.

Alas, Porter’s scoring touch eluded him. The U’s live to fight another day, but the odds are now stacked against them prolonging their season beyond May 6.

Porter’s chances

Chris Porter had a nearly-day. He peppered the Plymouth goal with headers and shots, but was ultimately unable to add to his 15 goals for the season.

Here is a run-down of his best attempts and near misses

10mins: Registered the game’s first effort on target, although his header from Brennan Dickenson’s cross flew straight into the arms of keeper Luke McCormick.

27mins: Drey Wright’s shot was half charged down and nearly rolled into the path of Porter, but keeper McCormick smothered the loose ball at the striker’s feet.

37mins: The U’s No. 9 met Dickenson’s cross with a free header that dropped wide of the far post. He could not get clean contact with that header, with what was probably his chance.

53mins: Porter was unable to capitalise on Dickenson’s cross-cum-shot, the ball coming at him too quickly for him to steer home.

83 mins: He was within a whisker of finding the net with a shot-on-the-turn, from Wright’s delivery. The ball flew inches wide.

89mins: He heads over the top from Richard Brindley’s free-kick.

In summary, it was just one of those frustrating days for the U’s club skipper.

One, two three

The U’s have drawn their last three matches, and yet they could have won all three of them. Manager McGreal was delighted with his side’s point, from Saturday’s game, just as he was against leaders Doncaster on Good Friday.

But it was the result at lowly Morecambe, on Easter Monday, that the U’s might live to regret. McGreal was dejected at the end of that match, following Michael Rose’s leveller from an 87th minute spot kick.

A haul of five points from those last three games, rather than just three, would have made the world of difference.

The final equation

The U’s can only to get to 69 points, if they win their last two matches, and that might not be enough to make the play-offs.

But it would be terrific to at least still be in contention, going into the final weekend of the season, when results elsewhere will also have a bearing.

Next up

Leyton Orient, condemned to relegation following Saturday’s 3-0 defeat at Crewe, are the hosts for the U’s final away game.

It will be an emotional affair, being the O’s last home game after an unbroken 112 years as a Football League club.

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