Platt earns U's precious point

Colchester United 1 Southampton 1COLCHESTER United remain marooned at the foot of the table, but they showed terrific character to earn a precious point at home to Southampton today.

By Carl Marston

Colchester United 1 Southampton 1

COLCHESTER United remain marooned at the foot of the table, but they showed terrific character to earn a precious point at home to Southampton today.

A double dose of bad luck allowed the visitors to take a 20th minute lead through Jhon Viafara, only for Clive Platt to sweep home the equaliser just two minutes into the second-half.

The U's had done well to get back into this festive clash, against former manager George Burley's dangerous side, but they were indebted to a couple of wonder saves from keeper Dean Gerken to preserve a point.

Gerken grabbed the man-of-the-match award for his last gasp cameo role. Firstly, he diverted substitute Grzegorz Rasiak's goalbound header at point blank range.

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That was a superb block, but Gerken repeated the feat in the 90th minute by arching back to claw away defender Andrew Davies' header, right on his goal-line. For good measure, he also kept out the follow up from the same player.

It was a breathless end to what had been a game of very few chances, and there was still time for Johnnie Jackson to force ex-Ipswich keeper Kelvin Davis into a smart save in stoppage time.

That would have secured only the U's fifth win of the season, but ultimately they had to be content with a draw to stay bottom of the Championship.

The misfortune that led to Southampton's opener involved a ricochet off defender Danny Granville, which rolled into the path of the onrushing Stern John. The Saints striker was through on goal, and although his mis-hit low drive was skidding wide of the far post, the grateful Viafara was on hand to tuck home the loose ball from point blank range.

Colchester's equaliser was well-worked, with the wingers combining to good effect. Kevin McLeod cushion-headed Mark Yeates' delivery to the near post, where Platt neatly converted from close-in. It was his seventh goal of the season.