U’s hold crowned champions

COLCHESTER United held already crowned champions Brighton to a 1-1 draw in an entertaining lunchtime match played in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

npower League One

Colchester Utd 1 Brighton 1

COLCHESTER United held already crowned champions Brighton to a 1-1 draw in an entertaining lunchtime match played in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

The U’s were by far the better side in the first half and deservedly took the lead in the 16th minute when Ian Henderson capitalised on a comedy of errors in the visiting defence.

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In an embarrassing moment in front of the television cameras, there was a keeper fumble and two defensive mis-kicks before Henderson side-footed in his third goal in four games.

Brighton keeper Casper Ankergren immediately signalled that he needed to come off the goal having clashed heavily with Henderson minutes before and he was soon replaced by sub Peter Brezovan.

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There was no excuse, however, for defenders Tommy Elphick and Inigo Calderon who have ensured their place on football gaffe DVDs for years to come.

The Seagulls – who made four changes to their side following their 1-0 home loss to Southampton less than 48 hours previous – looked anything but a side that has runaway with the title in such convincing fashion.

Henderson almost doubled the home side’s lead in the 42nd minute when he diverted a Lloyd James shot narrowly over the bar from close range, while Brezovan made two super saves in quick succession in the 57th minute, blocking at the feet of Henderson and tipping David Mooney’s follow-up chip over the bar, as Colchester pressed for a killer second.

Brighton – playing a lop-sided formation with no right-midfielder – had rarely threatened in the first hour. However, facing up to their first consecutive defeats of the season, they finally began to look like a team that has earned so many plaudits.

Craig Noone and Ashley Barnes both shot narrowly wide for the visitors, while Brian Wilson had to clear off the line before Brighton finally found a leveller in the 72nd minute.

Barnes was the man to get it, finishing at the near post after Elliott Bennett’s run and cross from the right.

Brighton pushed hard for a winner in the closing stages and Colchester had keeper Ben Williams to thanks for acrobatically tipping over Elphick’s header.

The U’s could have nicked it themselves at the end though when Mooney, with plenty of time and space on the edge of the box, shot tamely at Brezovan.

And there was still time for one last Brighton chance as Chris Wood headed just wide with the final touch of the game.

– Reaction to follow. Full report in tomorrow’s EADT.

COLCHESTER UTD (4-3-3): Williams; Wilson, Heath, Smith, Powell; Izzet (Bond 70), O’Toole, James; Henderson, Mooney, Vincent (Wordsworth 79).

Unused Subs: Cousins; Clarke, White, Coker; Odejayi.

Booked: James (27), Wilson (53).

BRIGHTON (4-4-2): Ankergren (Brezovan 19); Calderon, Elphick, Dunk, Painter; Bennett, Navarro, Dicker, Noone; Barnes, Wood.

Unused Subs: El-Abd, Sparrow, Hart, Sandaza, Kishishev, Bridcutt.

Booked: Bennett (40).

U’s Man-of-the-Match: Kemi Izzet

Attendance: 5,132

Referee: Mr Keith Stroud.

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