U's denied chance to take three points

Bristol City 1 Colchester United 1By Carl MarstonCOLCHESTER United earned a precious point at promotion-chasing Bristol City, but they will feel that they should have been awarded a last gasp penalty in an entertaining Championship duel.

Bristol City 1 Colchester United 1

By Carl Marston

COLCHESTER United earned a precious point at promotion-chasing Bristol City, but they will feel that they should have been awarded a last gasp penalty in an entertaining Championship duel.

Kevin Lisbie had fired the U's into a sixth minute lead, before Ivan Sproule grabbed an equaliser just after the half-hour mark.

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Geraint Williams' men had to soak up a lot of pressure during the second period, but in the fifth and last minute of injury-time, Lisbie appeared to be dragged down by Tamas Vasko in the box. Referee Grant Hegley thought otherwise, and merely waved play on.

Earlier, Lisbie had handed the U's a perfect start by latching onto Johnnie Jackson's header and then beating keeper Adriano Basso with a sublime finish. It was his ninth goal of the campaign.

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However, United could not fashion a second goal, when they were on top, and winger Sproule made them pay by rifling home the equaliser in the 33rd minute.

This was a great point for the U's, but Preston's victory over Watford meant that the Essex club returned to the basement.

U's boss Williams handed debuts to both of his new signings. Chris Coyne, snapped up from Luton Town on Thursday, started alongside Adam Virgo in the heart of defence, while Phil Ifil made his first appearance at right-back following his move from Tottenham.

The U's who took the lead, thanks to a super cool finish from LISBIE after just six minutes.

Skipper Jackson helped on Platt's cross and suddenly Lisbie was away in the clear, benefiting from hesitancy in the City back-line.

Platt advanced a few yards before slotting a right-footed shot low past the advancing Adriano Basso, the ball rolling in at the far post. It was Lisbie's ninth goal of the season, following hot on the heels of his brace at Charlton on New Year's Day.

And Lisbie spurned a golden chance to score again in the ninth minute. This time the ex-Charlton striker burst onto Mark Yeates' through ball, leaving defender Tamas Vasko trailing in his wake. However, his scooped shot was well saved by Basso, who stretched to his left to palm the ball to safety.

The home side had appeals for a penalty turned down in the 23rd minute, when Sproule took a tumble in the box under a challenge from Ifil. However, referee Grant Hegley was not impressed, merely waving play on.

City had further appeals for a penalty dismissed by Mr Hegley in the 28th minute, when skipper Jamie McAllister felt that he had been held back by Coyne. The decision was a goal-kick.

The U's did concede an equaliser in the 33rd minute, with SPROULE on target with a fine solo goal.

Sproule burst onto McAllister's pass and beat Virgo for pace down the left edge of the penalty area. He cut inside the Celtic loanee and buried a low shot past Gerken, the ball flying in off the far post.

It was Sproule's second goal of the season, although the right winger was booked for over-celebrating.

City thought that they had taken the lead just a minute later. Gerken could only parry McIndoe's goalbound free-kick, rifled in from the right, and although Vasko was able to bundle the rebound into an empty net, the assistant referee had already raised his flag for offside.

Only the woodwork denied City the lead on 39 minutes. The impressive McIndoe spotted Gerken off his line and tried his luck with a superb shot from the edge of the box that thudded off the bar.

Jackson should really have fired Colchester ahead in the 56th minute. Lisbie nipped on to Yeates' cross and squared for Jackson, who was standing just eight yards from goal. However, the ex-Tottenham midfielder saw his goalbound shot deflected over the bar by Johnson for a corner.

Yeates fancied his chances from a free-kick situation when Izzet was upended by a late challenge from Sproule in the 70th minute. The City winger had already been booked in the first-half, and was so relieved that he was not shown a second yellow and ensuing red card. Yeates' free-kick whistled a couple of yards over the bar.

Gerken then bravely punched away a cross-cum-shot by Sproule. He took a knock in making the interception, taking a boot in the face, and there was then confusion about whether or not he was going to come off.

Gerken wanted to stay on, but he was still clearly struggling with a head injury, so substitute keeper Mark Cousins replaced him for the last eight minutes.

The U's believed that they should have been given a penalty in the fifth and last minute of stoppage time when Lisbie appeared to be dragged down by Vasko.

However, Mr Hegley chose not to give the spot kick, so the U's had to make do with a hard-earned point.


BRISTOL CITY: Basso 7, Orr 7, Fontaine 7, Vasko 6, McAllister 7, Sproule 8, Johnson 6, Elliott 7, McIndoe 8, Trundle 7 (sub McCombe, 90), Byfield 6 (sub Showunmi, 79). Unused subs: Noble, Skuse, Weale.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken 7 (sub Cousins, 82), Ifill 7 (sub Balogh, 90), Virgo 7, Coyne 8, White 7, Yeates 8, Guttridge 7, IZZET 8, Jackson 7, Platt 7, Lisbie 8. Subs: Granville, Sheringham, McLeod.

Referee: Mr Grant Hegley (Hertfordshire)

Attendance: 16,484

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