U’s play-off hopes suffer setback with another draw
Colchester United 1 Carlisle United 1
COLCHESTER United were held to their fifth draw in succession, as their faint play-off hopes took a big hit against Carlisle United this afternoon.
The U’s really needed a victory to boost their top six chances, and Martin Rowlands gave them a platform with an opening goal inside six minutes of the second half.
However, midfielder James Berrett rescued a point for the Cumbrians with a 68th minute equaliser.
With just eight games left, the ninth-placed U’s are now very unlikely to make that late dash for the play-offs.
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Rowlands broke the deadlock with a slick move and a sweet finish on 51 minutes.
Rowlands exchanged a one-two with Steven Gillespie, who back-heeled back into the ex-QPR midfielder’s path.
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And Rowlands advanced a few more yards before beating keeper Adam Collin with a low drive, to chalk up his second goal for the club.
But Carlisle were level 17 minutes later. Berrett raced onto Tom Taiwo’s flick, with Magnus Okuonghae wrong-footed, to beat the advancing Ben Williams with a low shot into the far corner of the net.
The U’s could not find a winner during the final quarter of the game.
U’s boss Ward made two changes to the side that drew 0-0 at Stevenage on Tuesday night.
Rowlands returned after a three-game absence with a groin injury, and Gavin Massey was handed his first start since his return to the club on loan from Watford.
Andy Bond and Kayode Odejayi were the duo to drop to the bench.
It was a very tight first period, with Carlisle bossing the opening 15 minutes, before the U’s began to enjoy some pressure.
Gillespie had a couple of half-chances, both from teasing crosses by Ian Henderson. He miscued with a volley and ballooned a header over the bar.
Tom Eastman headed straight into the arms of keeper Adam Collin, from a 24th minute corner by Rowlands, but otherwise neither keeper was seriously troubled before the break.
Carlisle almost scored at the start of the second half, and the U’s were relieved to see Liam Noble’s goal-bound shot take a deflection on its way wide.
It was the U’s who took the lead, thanks to Rowlands’ first home goal in a U’s shirt, only for Berrett to slot home the equaliser for Carlisle with 22 minutes remaining.
The U’s had strong appeals for a penalty turned down in the 89th minute, when Cumbrians defender Danny Livesey appeared to handle in the box. But referee Gary Sutton remained unmoved.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Williams, Wilson, Okuonghae, Eastman, White, Izzet, Rowlands (sub Bond, 56), Wordsworth, Massey (sub Sears, 85), Gillespie (sub Odejayi, 66), Henderson. Unused subs: Heath, Duguid
Carlisle United: Collin, Simek, Livesey, Murphy, McGovern, Taiwo (sub Cook, 87), Noble, Berrett, Chantler, Zoko (sub Welsh, 82), Miller. Unused subs: Madden, Michalik, M Gillespie
Referee: Gary Sutton (Lincolnshire)