IT WAS left to the U`s to come from behind twice to snatch a point in the latest home encounter against mid-table side Brentford on Tuesday night.
A horrific start for the home team gifted Brentford a 2-0 lead on just 20 minutes but, despite the boos and anger resonating from the stands, the home side managed to claw their way back to 2-2 at half time. Even though the away side got their noses ahead against the run of play, the U`s bounced back again and were unlucky not to nick the points in the dying minutes.
After a string of bad results, including a last-gasp winner for Walsall just three days earlier, the fans were expecting the worst on the twenty minute mark as it looked like the U`s were setting themselves up for an embarrassing home defeat. But the Essex side showed a sense of character and resilience, which had been all-but non-existent in the last few games, to draw level twice.
There were three changes made to the side that crashed at Walsall with Kem Izzet returning from suspension to replace John Joe O`toole, Ian Henderson slotting in at right to replace Ashley Vincent and Phil Ifil filling in for the injured Marc Tierney.
Unsurprisingly it was Colchester which started brightly, threatening early when John White nearly caught out keeper Wojciech Szczesny with a smart toe punt as he lay on the floor, but Szczesny was well positioned to catch it in his mid-rift.
But the game petered out until 13 minutes, when David Hunt made the most of a poor clearance from the U`s defence to volley home from the edge of the area. Colchester United heads dropped, both in the stand and on the pitch.
Brentford, with the wind in their sails, made it 2-0 only four minutes later. Hunt turned provider as he chipped a ball into the six yard box for Leon Legge to power home a header, sending the few Brentford fans into dreamland: Brentford hadn`t scored two away from home since their 3-1 victory over Carlisle on opening day.
The U`s nearly replied instantly as striker Kevin Lisbie was presented with an open goal, but the ball fell awkwardly and the Bees keeper managed to gather it. Szczesny frustrated the home side once again as he smothered an effort from Wordsworth before it could develop dangerously.
On 33 minutes the U`s got a lucky break as Clive Platt`s hard work meant Henderson could drill in a cross which hit Hunt and glided over the keeper into the far of the goal. There were sedate celebrations from the home fans, but it was welcome relief from the horror start.
The home crowd got behind their team as the U`s pressed on the opposition, quicker to the ball than before, with Lisbie squandering an easy chance and midfielder David Prutton coming close with an acrobatic volley.
Henderson and Lisbie were causing the Brentford defence all kinds of trouble as they fed off Platt`s hard-won knockdowns. Just as injury time was starting, Platt assisted for Lisbie, who managed to get a shot away under pressure but it fizzed past the post.
A string of corners at the very end of stoppage time gave United the boost they needed, however. The ball was drifted in to Wordsworth, ready for him to nod in at the far post and draw the U`s level. The half time whistle went soon after.
After the restart, United met a tougher, more focused Brentford side who thwarted the U`s` efforts to finish off an extraordinary comeback.
Brentford`s Sam Wood deflected the ball at his own goal, only for Prutton to smash his effort into the arms of the awaiting goalie, which the keeper saved superbly. More Henderson graft allowed Lisbie to get another shot away, only to be blocked by the aware Brentford defence.
A free kick won by winger-cum-striker Lisbie, switched from an attacking role, was glided in for big defender Magnus Okuonghae. Alas, he headed over the bar. The defender then had a part to play in a goal at the other end: the troublesome Charlie MacDonald stole the ball off of his feet and continued into the box to slot it past Ben Williams.
Steven Gillespie replaced Henderson as the U`s looked to get another equaliser.
More work from Lisbie allowed himself to wriggle free in the box and smash a cross-cum-strike across the box, which Prutton managed to slot home at the far post. The U`s had a string of chances following, with Platt winning his fair share of balls.
A final string of corners gave the U`s the hope of an improbable 4-3 score line, with Platt and Heath managing close chances. But Brentford clung on for the final whistle, to record a useful away point for them.
A selection of comments from Vital Colchester`s partner forum on Tuesday`s game:
‘We just can’t defend, hope Aidy can sort it out.‘
‘What an up and down game. Overall performance is fair! Going 0-2 down in 17 minutes is not acceptable for a team who have been doing so well all season and fighting for play off positions.‘
‘First game I’ve really enjoyed for a long time to be honest – at least it had some tension, passion and interest.‘
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