Gillespie salvages a point

Scunthorpe United 1 Colchester United 1

SUPER sub Steven Gillespie earned Colchester United an away draw at 10-man Scunthorpe this afternoon.

Gillespie cancelled out Bobby Grant’s 38th minute opener, although the visitors were indebted to some fine saves from keeper Mark Cousins to hold out for a point.

The Iron achieved the breakthrough in the 38th minute. Matt Heath tried to head away Jimmy Ryan’s corner, but the ball seemed to take a couple of ricochets in a congested six-yard box on its way into the net.

Grant claimed the goal, although he may not have known much about it.

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Five minutes later and Grant was sent off for his role in an ugly off-the-ball clash on the edge of the U’s penalty area.

The Iron striker had already been booked for a deliberate dive inside the box (14 minutes), so a second yellow card prompted an early bath.

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Colchester salvaged a point with 16 minutes remaining. Gillespie raced onto Odejayi’s through ball to beat the onrushing Josh Lillis with a delicate lob over the keeper.

Gillespie’s celebrations were initially halted by a referee’s whistle, although that was to summon assistance for Lillis, who was injured in the collision.

It was Scunthorpe who actually looked the more likely winners during the final 15 minutes, but the U’s held on for a valuable point.

U’s striker Kayode Odejayi had the ball in the back of the net after just 60 seconds, but referee Nigel Miller ruled out the goal for a foul on keeper Lillis as the two jumped for the ball. Odejayi was also rather harshly booked for that challenge.

Otherwise it was Scunthorpe in the early ascendancy and Andy Barcham, who was a transfer target of U’s boss John Ward last summer, was denied twice within 60 seconds.

Barcham rattled the near post with a low shot on nine minutes, and then forced an acrobatic save from keeper Cousins, who diverted the striker’s rising shot over the bar.

A rare U’s break saw Michail Antonio leave defender Michael Nelson trailing in his wake down the left flank. Antonio checked inside the box and tried to find Anthony Wordsworth with a pass.

However, Wordsworth had already hit the deck following an off-the-ball challenge, which incensed the U’s midfielder. But unluckily for him, referee Mr Miller did not see the incident.

Antonio, the U’s best outfield player, came close to breaking the deadlock just after the half-hour mark. The Reading loanee charged onto Odejayi’s pass and made room for himself inside the box, before drilling in a shot that was deflected narrowly wide of target.

The U’s had three quickfire chances to score, just before Scunthorpe took the lead. Ian Henderson lost control of the ball at the vital moment, but keeper Lillis could not smother. Wordsworth was quick to react, with Lillis managing to block his follow-up shot. Still the danger was not over, but John-Joe O’Toole’s final effort was diverted wide.

Grant’s scrappy goal put the Iron 1-0 up in the 38th minute, but Grant turned from hero to villain just five minutes later when he was shown a second yellow card and ensuing red, for his involvement in a fracas on the edge of the U’s boss. Magnus Okuonghae was also booked.

So the home side had to play the final 47 minutes with just 10 men.

The U’s started the second half brightly and Henderson was homing in on goal within 10 seconds of the restart. Lillis pushed his shot around his near post.

But otherwise the visitors were struggling to make their numerical advantage count. To try and rectify that, Ward introduced attacking substitute Gillespie for midfielder O’Toole just after the hour mark.

And the plan worked with Gillespie netting a 74th minute equaliser, for his first league of the season.

Cousins kept the U’s on terms by saving smartly from substitute Garry Thompson in the 80th minute.

And there was still time for the impressive Cousins to make another terrific save, palming Barcham’s goalbound shot over his bar on 88 minutes.


SCUNTHORPE UNITED: Lillis, Wright, Nelson, Reid, Nolan, Ryan, Togwell, Mozika, Barcham, Dagnall (sub Thompson, 67), Grant. Unused subs: O’Connor, Duffy, Palmer, Slocombe.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Cousins, Wilson (sub Duguid, 82), Okuonghae, Heath, Coker, O’Toole (sub Gillespie, 61), James, Wordsworth, Henderson, Odejayi, Antonio (sub Bond, 85). Unused subs: Baldwin, Izzet.

Referee: Mr Nigel Miller (County Durham) 6

Attendance: 3,700

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