Pre-season friendly

The U’s final run-out of pre-season finished on an upbeat note as Colchester United scored a late goal to secure a draw at Vanarama National League side Dover Athletic.

The U’s wrapped up their fixtures ahead of the start of the League Two campaign next weekend with a 1-1 draw as they came from behind to cancel out a strike before half-time from their hosts in Kent.

It was the hosts who made the quicker start to the game at the Crabble Ground as Ben Stephenson had to clear away a dangerous ball into the U’s area early on and, in front of a crowd of 610, Dover then pressed with a series of set pieces.

Centre-half Luke Prosser then had to block an effort from Athletic striker Inih Effiong as the U’s back line stood firm and that allowed them to start imposing themselves at the other end.

Luke Gambin fired just wide of the target on 17 minutes, but the game settled down with neither side able to find the breakthrough.

Dover keeper Yusuf Mersin was required to be alert to make sure that stayed the case just past the half-hour mark as he denied Colchester forward Frank Nouble and there was then a chance for Jai Reason at the other end.

However, the former Braintree Town man dragged his shot wide of the target.

Colchester thought they had unlocked the Athletic back line a few minutes later when Harry Pell headed the ball in, but an offside flag denied that.

Instead, it was the home side who went into the break ahead.

The U’s had been reduced to ten men while Kane Vincent-Young received treatment after taking a knock and Dover put their numerical advantage to good use as Michael Woods fired home from inside the penalty area.

It meant Colchester kicked off the second half trailing 1-0 and, with heavy rain falling, Cameron James replaced Vincent-Young after he had picked up that knock towards the end of the first period.

The opening part of the half saw the U’s on the front foot.

Young U’s forward Andre Hassanally made a good break and released Jevani Brown but he was crowded out before he could get a shot away and Hassanally then had a decent shout for a penalty.

He appeared to be impeded in the Dover area, but still got a shot away and the referee chose not to point to the spot.

Either side of the hour mark, U’s boss John McGreal made several changes and one of these – Luke Norris, who had come on for Nouble – was to have a big impact in the final reckoning.

Norris almost had an instant impact as he forced Mersin into a strong stop and he then dragged a shot just wide on 78 minutes as Colchester continued to press in the closing stages.

They were making the running for an equaliser and they got their reward with just two minutes remaining.

It came when Courtney Senior was impeded in the Dover penalty area and this time the referee did point to the spot.

It was all the invitation that Norris required as he stepped forward and fired past Mersin to level the scores at the final whistle and make sure that Colchester headed into the 2019/20 season on a positive note.

Their season is due to start on Saturday with a home game against Port Vale.

Colchester United: Dean Gerken, Ollie Kensdale (Al-Amin Kazeem), Luke Prosser, Tom Eastman (Omar Sowunmi), Kane Vincent-Young (Cameron James), Harry Pell (Michael Fernandes), Ben Stevenson (Tom Lapslie), Jevani Brown (Dean Ager), Andre Hasanally (Brandon Comley), Luke Gambin (Courtney Senior), Frank Nouble (Luke Norris).

Subs not used: Ethan Ross.