Gallery: U’s pay the penalty in home draw
COLCHESTER United dictated for an hour but in the end had to be happy with a 1-1 draw against Wycombe Wanderers in their first home game of the season.
A 25th minute strike from Ashley Vincent was all that the U’s had to show for their complete dominance, and a 61st minute penalty from Scott Rendell rescued a point for the visitors.
It was a smart finish from Vincent, who ghosted in at the far post to volley home Michael Rose’s exquisite cross from the left flank.
The U’s spurned several chances to score the all-important second goal, with Ian Henderson twice striking the bar with rising shots, either side of half-time.
And they were made to pay for these missed opportunities when Michael Rose fouled Scott Donnelly in the penalty area, enabling Rendell to convert the spot kick on 61 minutes.
U’s boss John Ward named an unchanged side for the third match running, at the start of this season, and even the five-man bench was the same as last weekend’s opening day victory at Preston.
Wycombe manager Gary Waddock recalled the experienced Gareth Ainsworth to his midfield, after the 38-year-old was rested for Tuesday night’s penalty-shoot out victory over the U’s in the Carling Cup.
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Chairboys striker Ben Strevens was also back in the starting line-up after missing the Carling Cup tie due to a one-match suspension.
The U’s created the first chance on three minutes. Kayode Odejayi slid the ball into the path of Kem Izzet, who blasted a long-range shot well over the bar.
And it was the hosts who continued to dominate the early stages, none more so than when Magnus Okuonghae’s close-range shot, following Michael Rose’s free-kick, was smoothed on the goal-line by keeper Nikki Bull.
It was only Bull’s agility that prevented the U’s from taking the lead in the 18th minute. John-Joe O’Toole spotted Odejayi unmarked in the six-yard box and curled over a delightful cross which the U’s striker headed goalwards, only for Bull to claw the ball to safety with a reflex save.
Seven minutes later and the U’s were deservedly in front, thanks to Vincent’s first goal of the season.
Wycombe had not threatened at all, before the U’s goal, although they did come close to an equaliser in the 28th minute. Ainsworth outwitted Rose and drilled over a low cross-cum-shot which Mark Cousins did well to palm to safety.
Only the woodwork denied Colchester a second goal on 35 minutes. A slip by John Halls enabled Odejayi to power into the box and set up Ian Henderson, whose delicate lob beat Bull all ends up as it bounced off the bar.
The rebound dropped at the feet of Kem Izzet, but he chose to pass rather than shoot and the chance went begging.
Goalscorer Vincent suffered injury anguish in the 42nd minute. He upended Ainsworth on the edge of the box, and appeared to injure his ankle in the process, calling for medical assistance straight away.
He was eventually stretchered off after receiving treatment on the pitch, to be replaced by Steven Gillespie.
And Gillespie was close to firing the U’s into a 2-0 lead in first-half stoppage time. He swooped onto Rose’s cross, but could not beat Bull with a fierce low drive that Wycombe’s keeper blocked.
Henderson was again thwarted by the woodwork early in the second half. He raced onto Odejayi’s excellent through ball and eyed up the target with a rising shot that clipped the bar from 18 yards out.
The U’s continued dominance counted for very little when Rendell converted a 61st minute penalty for the equaliser, after Rose had tripped Donnelly in the box.
That equaliser really knocked the U’s out of their stride, and Cousins came to his side’s rescue with a marvellous save from Joel Grant to prevent Wycombe from taking the lead in the 81st minute.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Cousins, Wilson, Okuonghae, Heath, Rose, Izzet, O’Toole, Henderson, Wordsworth (sub James, 73), Vincent (sub Gillespie, 45), Odejayi. Unused subs: Baldwin, Coker, White.
WYCOMBE WANDERERS: Bull, McCoy, Winfield, Tunnicliffe, Sandell, Donnelly, Ainsworth (sub Benyon, 66), Halls (sub Harding, 68), Grant (sub Beavon, 86), Rendell, Strevens. Unused subs: Foster, Johnson.
Referee: Mr Gary Sutton (Lincs)