U’s hit the woodwork in stalemate at Meadow Lane

U's new boy Aaron Collins, on his club debut, is fouled by Notts County defender Richard Duffy durin

U's new boy Aaron Collins, on his club debut, is fouled by Notts County defender Richard Duffy during the first half at Meadow Lane this afternoon. Picture: RICHARD BLAXALL - Credit: mdi/Richard Blaxall

Notts County 0 Colchester United 0

The woodwork denied Colchester United what would have been a fine winning start to their League Two campaign, at title favourites Notts County this afternoon.

Defender Tom Eastman was desperately unlucky as his curling shot, on 75 minutes, beat keeper Ross Fitzsimons all ends up, only to cannon back off the bar.

Even so, this was a good point on the road, in the Meadow Lane sunshine, and certainly an improvement on last year’s opening day trip to Accrington Stanley, which ended in a 3-1 defeat. Stanley went on to win the title.

Luke Prosser was the stand-out performer at County, marshalling the back three superbly, while Harry Pell was a force in central midfielder on his debut.

Young keeper Dillon Barnes, the new No. 1 following Sam Walker’s summer move to Reading, was in the action early on, diving to his right to turn a low drive by Enzio Boldewijn around his post.

Summer recruit Frank Nouble stretched County’s defence with a strong run down the left, which yielded a corner, and from this Frankie Kent’s goalbound header was blocked by Shane Brisley. There was a suspicion of handball against the County defender, but no penalty was awarded.

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Ex-Ipswich front-runner Nouble was one of three players making their full Colchester United debuts. The other two were midfielder Pell and Wolves loanee Aaron Collins.

On 23 minutes, Nouble was in the action again when glancing a header narrowly wide of the far post from Ryan Jackson’s dangerous cross.

At the other end, a snap shot by Nathan Thomas ricocheted off U’s sweeper Luke Prosser and flew behind for a corner. Otherwise, the visitors looked quite comfortable at the back, for the rest of the first half.

The excellent Prosser came to his side’s rescue inside the first minute of the second half, denying Kane Hemmings a goal-scoring chance with a superb last ditch block.

On 49 minutes, Magpies keeper Ross Fitzsimons seemed to handle outside his penalty area, while under pressure from Nouble. However, referee Seb Stockbridge thought otherwise and play was able to continue.

Barnes obliged with a good save in the 68th minute, arching back to claw winger Thomas’ lofted shot over the bar.

Two minutes later and Nouble charged down keeper Fitzsimons’ clearance. Szmodics immediately chipped the ball into the box for the awaiting Collins, but he lost his footing at the vital moment and the chance was gone.

The U’s were denied a goal by the woodwork in the 75th minute, as Eastman’s superb curling shot beat Fitzsimons but thudded back off the bar.

Just a minute later and County also came close to breaking the deadlock themselves. Substitute Kristian Dennis, on his debut, scooped a close-range effort over the bar from a matter of a few feet out, following Boldewijn’s low cross.


NOTTS COUNTY: Fitzsimons, Tootle, Duffy, Brisley, Jones, Hewitt, Vaughan, Thomas (sub Hawkridge, 90), Boldewijn, Hemmings (sub Alessandra, 83), Stead (sub Dennis, 69). Unused subs: Pindroch, Hall, Husin, Zhenyu He.

COLCHESTER: Barnes, Eastman, Prosser, Kent, Jackson, Pell, Lapslie, Dickenson, Szmodics, Collins (sub Mandron, 76), Nouble. Unused subs: Ross, Senior, Norris, A Barnes, Wright, Comley.

Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge (Tyne)

Attendance: 7,136 (369 away fans)

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