A late goal denied Colchester United’s under-23s victory as they played out a 1-1 draw with Sheffield Wednesday tonight, in their final Weston Homes Community Stadium game of the season.

It was a dramatic conclusion to the Professional Development League Two game, with Fraser Preston scoring a stoppage-time header for the Owls to cancel out Ryan Gondoh’s opener and substitute Callum Jones then seeing his late penalty saved by keeper Dan Wallis, seconds later.

It was cruel on the U’s, who had looked on course to beat a Wednesday side who had travelled to Essex on the back of four successive wins and looking to move top of the North table.

Decarrey Sheriff volleyed just wide early on for Colchester but chances were limited for both sides after that, in what was an even first half.

However, Wednesday keeper Wallis denied Gondoh just before half-time while on the stroke of the interval, Colchester shot-stopper Dillon Barnes did well to foil Joe West.

Barnes smothered Liam Waldock’s effort early in the second half but just as Wednesday were looking the more likely team to score the game’s first goal, the U’s struck.

Gondoh put them ahead in style with 16 minutes remaining, slamming a superb shot into the net after driving in from the right.

But Wednesday almost hit back immediately, with keeper Barnes having to make a good save to thwart Preston’s header from close range.

Colchester still looked dangerous though and Sam Warde, who had scored twice in the 3-2 win at Bristol City last Friday, was unlucky to see his effort drop just wide from the edge of the box.

Preston headed in at the far post to equalise in stoppage time and substitute Jones then had a penalty saved by Wallis with seconds remaining, as the spoils were shared.

COLCHESTER UNITED U23: Barnes, W Wright, Wilson (sub Jones, 69), Warde, Kensdale, Rooney, Gondoh, Anderson, Sheriff, Issa, Sims. Substitutes: Kurasik, Allarakhia, Chilvers, Cracknell.