Williams performs heroics as U’s claim battling draw
Tranmere Rovers 0 Colchester United 0
HARD-working Colchester United recorded only their second goalless draw of 2011, following a typically battling away display at Tranmere Rovers this afternoon.
Rovers forced the pace for most of the game, and the U’s were indebted to some fine saves from Ben Williams, especially late on.
United could have stolen all three points themselves during the last quarter of the game, with Michail Antonio seeing his shot saved by keeper Owain Fon Williams, and Magnus Okuonghae’s header cleared off the goal-line from the ensuing corner.
But the U’s will be happy with this point.
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Their only other 0-0 draw this year had come back way back in January, with a stalemate at Huddersfield.
Manager John Ward made just one change to the side that had impressed in a 4-2 home win over Notts County the previous weekend. It was an enforced change, with the injured Steven Gillespie replaced by Ashley Vincent in a 4-4-2 formation.
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Tranmere dominated the first half-hour, with the U’s forced further and further back.
A 10th minute free-kick by Anthony Wordsworth was deflected wide off the defensive wall, but otherwise it was Rovers creating all the chances.
Les Parry’s men should really have been in front on 27 minutes, because Ash Taylor missed a sitter from deep inside the six-yard box.
Taylor looked certain to score, when John Welsh’s cross sailed over the head of keeper Ben Williams, but the unmarked Rovers centre-half merely headed the ball downwards with the rebound flying over the bar from just two yards out.
Just after the half-hour mark and the U’s were breathing a sigh of relief again. This time skipper Welsh blasted wide with his volley from Ian Goodison’s knock-down.
United’s only effort on target in the first period was a tame 20-yarder from Anthony Wordsworth, which hardly troubled keeper Owain Fon Williams.
Rovers continued to take the initiative in the second half and Ben Williams did well to smother a shot on the turn from livewire Lucas Akins in the 66th minute.
Seven minutes later and Brian Wilson spurned an excellent chance for the U’s. The unmarked right-back drilled wide at the near post, following a cross-cum-shot by Wordsworth.
Antonio, playing the final game of his loan spell from Reading, nearly grabbed a solo goal in the 80th minute. The winger powered his way past two defenders, but could not squeeze his shot past keeper Fon Williams.
From the ensuing corner, Magnus Okuonghae saw his goalbound header diverted wide.
But it was Tranmere who came closest to stealing a win late on, only to be thwarted by some excellent saves by man-of-the-match Williams.
Williams denied Adam McGurk with a point blank range save, and also beat away a firecracker from Robinson to ensure a battling point.
TRANMERE ROVERS: Fon Williams, Raven, Goodison, Taylor, Buchanan, Welsh, Weir, Robinson, Akins, Tiryaki, McGurk. Unused subs: Bakayogo, Labadie, Showunmi, Holmes, Coughlin.
COLCHESTER UNITED: Williams, Wilson, Okuonghae, Heath, Coker, Antonio, Bond, Wordsworth, Vincent (sub Izzet, 87), Henderson, Odejayi. Unused subs: Thomas, James, White, Duguid.
Referee: Graham Salisbury (Lancashire)