Morecambe 0 Colchester United 0: Dour stalemate is another blow to U’s fast-fading play-off hopes

Brandon Comley, left, battles with Garry Thompson during the first half at Morecambe. Picture: RICHA

Brandon Comley, left, battles with Garry Thompson during the first half at Morecambe. Picture: RICHARD BLAXALL - Credit: Richard Blaxall / Pagepix

Morecambe 0 Colchester United 0

Sammie Szmodics goes in high with Morecambe defender Sam Lavelle. Picture: RICHARD BLAXALL

Sammie Szmodics goes in high with Morecambe defender Sam Lavelle. Picture: RICHARD BLAXALL - Credit: Richard Blaxall / Pagepix

Colchester United’s play-off hopes were already “a bit distant,” in the words of manager John McGreal, before tonight’s dour stalemate at Morecambe.

And after this evening’s disappointing encounter, on a tricky pitch at the Globe Arena, the U’s top-seven ambitions look even more far-fetched.

With just seven matches remaining, the U’s are nine points adrift of the play-off zone.

They have now collected just two points from a possible 15 in their last five matches, with two draws and three defeats.

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This was also the fourth draw from four meetings between these two clubs, the clash at the Community Stadium also ending goalless from last November.

All in all, it was a night to forget, played out in front of a disappointing crowd of just 893.

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The U’s showed three changes to the side that were beaten 1-0 by Yeovil Town on Saturday.

In came Ryan Jackson, Brennan Dickenson and Mikael Mandron, and out went Liam Mandeville, Kurtis Guthrie and Frankie Kent, for differing reasons.

Kent was in the original starting line-up, but injured himself in the warm-up and so was replaced by Tom Eastman. Mandeville was on the bench but Guthrie was not even in the 18-man squad.

Morecambe were fresh from a good 2-1 home win over play-off candidates Exeter over the weekend, and they settled first with midfielder Alex Kenyon blasting a 20-yarder narrowly wide on eight minutes.

At the other end, Mikael Mandron worked hard to rob defender Dean Winnard inside the penalty area, although the move ended with Ryan Jackson drilling a long-range shot wide of the near post.

The Shrimps had a let-off in the 16th minute, as an attempted headed clearance by Winnard, under pressure from Mandron, bounced off his own bar and dropped behind for a corner.

Otherwise, there was precious little to enthuse over during a drab first quarter of the game, with neither keeper forced into any save of note.

Home striker Adam McGurk threatened an opening goal in the 27th minute, but his first shot was blocked and his follow-up effort ballooned over the bar, with Sam Walker untroubled.

Just after the half-hour mark, left winger Dickenson, enjoying only his second start of the season after long-term injury, sneaked in a header which nearly surprised Roche. The keeper eventually shepherded the ball away from his far upright.

A rather tame first period drifted towards a predictable stalemate, winger GreggWylde pulling a 15-yard drive wide of target on 43 minutes.

But there was some goalmouth action in first-half stoppage time, Walker having to dive full length to his left to palm away a stinging low drive by left-back Luke Conlan.

Garry Thompson pounced on the loose ball but could not tuck home from an acute angle.

Ten minutes into the second half and Kane Vincent-Young burst into the Shrimps’ penalty area. His cross was blocked, but Szmodics was able to guide the ball into the danger zone, where the hosts managed to scramble away before Mandron could pounce.

Ex-U’s left-back Michael Rose, operating in central midfield for the hosts, was looking dangerous at times and one of his trademark left-footed shots was cleared behind for a corner by Vincent-Young.

The hard-working Tom Lapslie was in the action in both boxes, around the 66-minute mark. He had a well-struck volley diverted over the bar by a defender, and was then at the other end to charge down a shot by Wylde.

Home keeper Roche was finally called into his first serious save of the evening, as late as the 75th minute, when he dived to his right to push away a goalbound free-kick by Dickenson.

Both sides made a flurry of late substitutions, and one of these, Sean Murray, lifted a free-kick over the bar on 87 minutes.


MORECAMBE: Roche, McGowan, Lavelle, Winnard, Conlan, Wylde (sub Wildig, 87), Kenyon, Thompson, Rose, McGurk (sub Oliver, 78), Lang (sub Campbell, 82). Unused subs: Nizic, Old, Fleming, Lund.

COLCHESTER: Walker, Jackson, Prosser, Eastman, Vincent-Young, Comley (sub Stevenson, 79), Wright, Lapslie, Szmodics (sub Senior, 84), Dickenson (sub Murray, 84), Mandron. Unused subs: Barnes, Shodipo, Murray, Rooney, Mandeville.

Referee: Richard Clark (Northumberland)

Attendance: 893 (52 away fans)

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