Last-gasp goal denies U's in derby

Southend United 3 Colchester United 3COLCHESTER United were denied victory at the death when conceding an equaliser with the last kick of the Essex derby.

Carl Marston

Southend United 3 Colchester United 3

COLCHESTER United were denied victory at the death when conceding an equaliser with the last kick of the Essex derby.

The U's had come storming back from 2-0 down, and seemed to have won this pulsating League One clash until conceding from a 94th minute corner, which Jean-Francois Christophe bundled home.

Southend had raced into a two-goal lead inside the first 13 minutes, thanks to goals from defender Peter Clarke and striker Francis Laurent.

But Colchester gradually began to take control and they deservedly pulled a goal back in the 35th minute, via Johnnie Jackson's deflected free-kick in what was his 100th league game for the club.

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Paul Lambert's men dominated the second-half and Mark Yeates equalised with another slick finish in the 71st minute, following good work by David Perkins.

Substitute Anthony Wordsworth seemed to have completed an amazing comeback when heading home John White's cross in the 81st minute, but they could not hang on.

Southend had taken just eight minutes to take the lead, and Southend-born Dean Gerken will not be happy with his contribution.

Defender Pat Baldwin conceded a free-kick, from which Ipswich Town loanee Dan Harding floated over a teasing cross to the far post. Gerken advanced off his line to gather, but centre-half CLARKE arrived first to head powerfully home.

And it was soon a case of double trouble for the U's. Just five minutes later and the Shrimpers were celebrating again, thanks to a close-range finish from LAURENT.

Sawyer ran at the U's defence down the right flank, and his scuffed cross-cum-shot was nudged on by Alex Revell for team-mate Laurent to stab home beyond the reach of Gerken.

The U's miserable start to the game continued when centre-half Chris Coyne, who made one brief appearance for Southend as a loanee in 1999, was booked for a foul.

Team-mate Dean Hammond was also flashed the yellow card on 22 minutes, for a crude challenge on the impressive Sawyer. Left-back Harding, who scored the winner against Leeds United on Tuesday night, was not far adrift from the ensuing free-kick.

Coyne had been clearly struggling with a leg problem. The Australian had tried to run off the injury, but was eventually replaced by substitute Matt Heath in the 25th minute.

Seconds later and the U's could have halved the deficit. Clive Platt squeezed the ball through for fellow striker Scott Vernon. His first touch was excellent, but he then sliced horribly wide with his right foot from an acute angle.

However, the visitors did pull a goal back in the 35th minute with JACKSON on target. There was a slice of good fortune about the goal. Adam Barrett conceded a foul, and Jackson and Yeates argued about who should take the set piece.

Jackson won the argument, and his 25-yard free-kick took a wicked deflection off a defender as the ball wrong-footed keeper Federici and nestled in the far corner of the net. It was his fourth goal of the season.

An entertaining first-half should have ended with the scores level. Yeates pounced onto Platt's knock-down and curled a delightful lob over Federici. The ball cannoned back off the post, but Kem Izzet was poised to head home, only to miss the target with an empty goal beckoning. That was a bad miss, arriving just a minute before the break.

Half-time: Southend 2 Colchester 1

The U's dominated the early stages of the second period, but could not fashion a clear-cut chance. Jackson was then the third U's player to be booked, for a foul on Kevin Betsy on 62 minutes.

Sunday-Akanni Wasiu was introduced as a 69th minute substitute for Vernon, and the U's grabbed the equaliser just two minutes later.

YEATES was again the goal-hero. Perkins embarked on a positive run through the middle, and he squared for Yeates on the edge of the box.

The Dubliner almost lost the ball, but withstood a couple of challenges and kept his balance superbly to direct his shot beyond the reach of Federici. It was his seventh goal of the season.

And the U's seemingly completed their comeback in the 81st minute. White swung over a cross from the right flank and WORDSWORTH connected with the sweetest of headers from eight yards out.

Wordsworth was booked for over-celebrating his goal, though he wouldn't have minded too much, although unfortunately it was not the winner.

In the very last minute of stoppage time, Christophe converted from a corner to deny the U's what would have been a deserved victory.

Squads

SOUTHEND UNITED: Federici 6, Francis 7, Clarke 7, Barrett 7, Harding 7 (sub Sankofa, 46), Betsy 6, CHRISTOPHE 8, Sawyer 7, Robson-Kanu 6 (sub McCormack, 81) Revell 6, Laurent 7 (sub Scannell, 76). Unused subs: Grant, Walker.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken 6, White 8, Baldwin 8, Coyne 6 (sub Heath, 22, 7) Jackson 6, YEATES 8, Hammond 8, Izzet 8, Perkins 7, Platt 7 (sub Wordsworth, 74), Vernon 6 (sub Wasiu, 69) Unused subs: Ifil, Cousins.

Referee: Mr Mike Russell (Hertfordshire)

Attendance: 8,920

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