Stalemate leaves Colchester United deep in trouble
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Colchester United 0 Millwall 0
Colchester United held play-off chasing Millwall to a goalless stalemate at the Weston Homes Community Stadium this afternoon.
Under normal circumstances, this would have been seen as a good point for Kevin Keen’s men, following the recent back-to-back wins over Doncaster Rovers and Coventry City.
However, the U’s plight at the wrong end of the table meant that they really needed to win this game to step up their bid to escape the clutches of relegation.
As it stands, they now face a must-win game at Blackpool next weekend, and they will probably need to win five of their last six matches to be in the hunt for League One safety.
The U’s played well against the Lions, although it was the visitors who came closest to winning when Chris Taylor’s shot rebounded off the foot of a post in the 78th minute.
The U’s started brightly and Chris Porter headed narrowly wide from George Moncur’s corner on three minutes.
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The hosts continued to press and another corner by Moncur, delivered on 11 minutes, was volleyed high and wide by Tom Lapslie, who was in the starting line-up due to skipper Owen Garvan’s absence.
Just a minute later and Moncur was agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock. His low drive, struck from the edge of the box, was deflected narrowly wide of the far upright.
Play-off chasing Millwall didn’t really threaten until midway through the first half, when Lee Gregory latched onto Steve Morison’s through ball. But the striker couldn’t find his way around Frankie Kent, who dispossessed him and shepherded the ball to safety.
However, Gregory should have done better in the 22nd minute, meeting Aiden O’Brien’s pinpoint cross with a close-range shot which he managed to scoop over the bar, with just keeper Elliott Parish to beat. That was a bad miss.
At the other end, visiting keeper Jordan Archer was forced into the first real save of the match, diving to his left to keep out Elliot Lee’s goal-bound drive on 24 minutes.
Moncur was robbed by rival midfielder Shaun Williams in his own half, which put the U’s under pressure. Gregory made room for himself in the penalty area, but his final cross was volleyed straight at Parish by the onrushing Chris Taylor.
The chances then dried up until the 41st minute. Morison found his strike-force partner Gregory in the danger zone, and although he reached the ball before the onrushing Parish, be scooped his shot over the bar from an acute angle, much to the amusement of the U’s fans behind the goal in the South Stand.
Millwall had ended the first half on top, but the U’s stepped up a gear at the start of the second period.
A scuffed free-kick by Moncur sneaked its way through to Lee, whose shot was charged down by keeper Archer, and seconds later Archer found Moncur’s 18-yard shot too hot to handle, although he mopped up the loose ball at the second attempt.
It was developing into a rip-roaring encounter. Lions’ veteran Morison missed a free header from a 51st minute corner, while Archer was at full stretch to palm away a speculative shot by Gavin Massey.
Parish came to his side’s rescue with an instinctive save in the 64th minute. He beat away Gregory’s close-range shot, on the edge of his six-yard box.
The hard-working Chris Porter escaped his marker on 77 minutes, and was unlucky to see his first-time shot fly only a foot over the bar.
But Millwall went even closer just a minute later, as winger Chris Taylor’s low drive was deflected onto the near post, with Parish beaten. The ball rebounded to safety.
COLCHESTER: Parish, Brindley (sub Vincent-Young, 59), Kent, Eastman, Shorey, Lapslie (sub Ambrose, 65), Gilbey, Moncur, Massey (sub Wright, 77), Porter, Lee Unused subs: Bransgrove, Akinwande, Bonne, Harney.
MILLWALL: Archer, Romeo, Webster, Beevers, Martin, Taylor, Thompson, Williams, O’Brien (sub Ferguson, 46), Gregory, Morison. Unused subs: Forde, Upson, Onyedinma, Nelson, Abdou, Philpot.
Referee: Kevin Johnson (Somerset)
Attendance: 5,377 (1,705 away fans)