U's halt losing run against Cardiff

Colchester United 1 Cardiff City 1By Carl MarstonJOHNNIE Jackson's fantastic second-half strike was enough to end Colchester United's rotten run of five straight defeats, although this draw did their cause at the bottom of the table very few favours.

Colchester United 1 Cardiff City 1

By Carl Marston

JOHNNIE Jackson's fantastic second-half strike was enough to end Colchester United's rotten run of five straight defeats, although this draw did their cause at the bottom of the table very few favours.

Cardiff took the lead after just 11 minutes, when Paul Parry beat Dean Gerken with a marvellous shot from outside the box that soared into the top corner of the net.

But the U's came storming back and should really have won this game. Kevin Lisbie was a threat all afternoon, and he had a good shout for a penalty turned down in the first half, as well as clipping the post with a close-range shot.

The Bluebirds were reduced to ten men in the 62nd minute. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was sent off for violent conduct, after raising his boot in the face of Gerken as the two contested a loose ball.

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Jackson levelled with a real screamer in the 71st minute. His half-volley from Medy Elito's cross flew like a rocket into the roof of the net.

The U's put ten-man Cardiff under intense pressure for the rest of the match, but were unable to find the winner that they really needed to stand any chance of cheating relegation.

PARRY'S ninth goal of the season gave Cardiff an 11th minute lead - and it was a real cracker.

The U's were caught out by a throw-in, with Peter Whittingham threading the ball through for Parry, who was standing with his back to goal outside the box.

Parry turned superbly, completely deceiving Virgo and then curling a delightful 22-yard shot beyond the reach of Dean Gerken and into the far corner of the net. It was a precision effort from the ex-Hereford attacker.

That early goal ensured that the U's had now gone 36 games without keeping a clean-sheet, a terrible record. They have still only kept one clean-sheet all season.

Kevin Lisbie nipped in beyond left-back Tony Capaldi to open up the Bluebirds defence in the 25th minute. The ex-Charlton striker squared for Duguid, who was lurking just eight yards from goal, but the U's skipper dragged his shot across goal and wide.

Williams' men were on the offensive again when Lisbie latched on to Phil Ifil's delicate cross. The U's leading scorer appeared to be dragged back as he rather scuffed his shot, but referee Kevin Wright waved away appeals for a penalty.

Only the woodwork denied Colchester an equaliser on the half-hour mark. Again Lisbie was in the thick of the action, sneaking onto Platt's knock-down and lifting his shot over keeper Peter Enckelman from close range. However, the ball clipped the far post and dropped to safety - proving that when you're down at the bottom of the table, the luck tends to desert you!

City were reduced to ten men when Hasselbaink was sent off for violent conduct in the 62nd minute.

Virgo allowed the ball to sail over him, forcing Gerken to lunge forwards to try and collect the loose ball. Hasselbaink's boot was high as he connected with Gerken's face rather than the ball, and referee Mr Wright deemed that act to be violent conduct and so flashed the experienced striker the red card.

Gerken needed a few minutes treatment before he was able to continue, and Hasselbaink trudged off the pitch shrugging his shoulders.

Cardiff therefore had to play the final 28 minutes with just 10 men, although they almost doubled their lead just seconds after Hasselbaink's departure. Whittingham met Parry's deep cross with a header that ballooned over the bar from just six yards out. That was a bad miss.

The U's were deservedly level in the 71st minute, and JACKSON took the plaudits for a fantastic strike.

Duguid took the U's second corner of the afternoon short to Elito, and his cross dropped into the path of Jackson, who connected with a stunning half-volley that screamed into the roof of the net, giving keeper Enckleman no chance.

Jackson was standing 25 yards from goal when he eyed up the target. It was his seventh goal of the campaign.

The visitors really needed to fashion a winner, and manager Williams threw caution to the wind by introducing attacking substitute Scott Vernon for defender White in the 83rd minute.

Anthony Wordsworth also appeared as an 88th minute substitute for Elito, to make his league debut, and Platt nodded wide from eight yards out as United kept up the pressure.

In the last minute of normal time, Jackson swung over a corner that Enckleman punched to safety. The U's also earned four more corners in stoppage time, but United could not capitalise. Vernon headed tamely downwards from one delivery, and Virgo nodded over the bar from the fourth corner.

Platt also had a shot charged down in the third minute of injury-time, but try as they might, Colchester could not find that elusive winner.

Squads

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken 7, White 7 (sub Vernon, 83), Heath 7, Virgo 6, Ifil 6, Duguid 7, Hammond 7, Jackson 8, Elito 7 (sub Wordsworth, 88), Platt 7, LISBIE 8. Unused subs: Izzet, Balogh, Bankole.

CARDIFF CITY: Enckleman 7, Blake 6, JOHNSON 8, Loovens 7, Capaldi 6, Rae 6, Ledley 6 (sub Thompson, 77), Ramsey 7 (sub Scimeca, 77), Whittingham 6 (sub Sinclair, 66), Hasselbaink 6, Parry 7. Unused subs: Purse, Oakes.

Referee: Mr Kevin Wright (Cambridgeshire) 6

Attendance: 4,699

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