FRANK Nouble had a last-gasp penalty saved as Colchester United’s 0-0 draw at Crewe Alexandra ended in dramatic circumstances.

Nouble’s spot-kick was saved by Alex keeper Will Jaaskelainen in the sixth minute of stoppage-time after the U’s were awarded a spot-kick deep into time added on, at Gresty Road.

The penalty was awarded after U’s substitute Theo Robinson had been involved in an off the ball altercation with Nicky Hunt, in the Crewe area.

Robinson was shown a straight red card, while Hunt was booked.

But Nouble's penalty was saved and Colchester had to be content with a point after producing a much-improved performance to hold the leaders to a goal-less draw.

John McGreal’s side put in a disciplined and organised performance to claim a well-deserved draw and bounce back, after two disappointing defeats.

And although Alex had most of the possession, U’s keeper Dean Gerken hardly had a meaningful save to make throughout the 90 minutes.

Colchester head coach McGreal made four changes to his side for the game at Crewe, following the disappointing home defeat against Morecambe.

Brandon Comley, Ben Stevenson, Courtney Senior and Luke Norris all returned to the side at the expense of Tom Lapslie, Callum Harriott and Theo Robinson who dropped to the bench and Brendan Wiredu, who did not feature in the 18.

Senior started in a right-sided role, with Frank Nouble on the left and Kwame Poku in a central position.

Colchester were looking for a much-improved display, following their hugely disappointing performance against Morecambe.

Crewe had the better of the play in the opening stages and threatened the Colchester goal from the start.

But despite one or two close shaves, Gerken did not have a save to make and it was Colchester who came closest to breaking the deadlock, before half-time.

Indeed, the visitors almost scored on three occasions in the space of two minutes, midway through the first half.

Nouble blasted a 24th-minute shot horribly over the bar and over the stand behind the goal after being picked out by Norris in the area.

And a minute later, Norris found himself with only Jaaskelainen to beat after Crewe gave the ball away midway inside their own half but could only shoot straight at the young keeper.

Nouble had another opener soon after when he found a bit of space inside the Crewe area but could only fire a low left foot shot straight at Jaaskelainen at his near post.

And although Ryan Wintle slotted wide for the hosts from the edge of the area from Charlie Kirk’s short pass, the U’s deserved to go in level at the break.

As they had the first half, Crewe began the second period brightly and almost went ahead seven minutes after the break when Charlie Kirk slotted into the side netting from a tight angle.

But Colchester also threatened and Poku was unlucky when he showed good footwork to manufacture a chance for himself before shooting straight at Jaaskelainen.

And although Crewe began to dominate the possession the U’s, marshalled brilliantly at the back by Luke Prosser and Tom Eastman, largely kept them at arm’s length.

Alex came a whisker away midway through the second half when the impressive Wintle burst into the U’s box before unleashing a low left-foot shot that whistled past the far post.

The hosts began to gain more of a stranglehold on the contest as the clock ticked down but Nouble forced Jaaskelainen into a full-stretch save with four minutes remaining, as Colchester came close to claiming a late winner.

And there was late drama when referee Andy Haines awarded a penalty after an off-the-ball incident involving U’s substitute Robinson, who was dismissed and Crewe defender Hunt.

But Nouble missed the chance to win it for Colchester in the sixth minute of stoppage time when his penalty was saved by Jaaskelainen, as the points were shared.


Colchester United goals: None.

Crewe Alexandra goals: None.

Colchester United bookings: Comley (foul, 45), Eastman (foul, 83).

Crewe Alexandra bookings: Lowery (foul, 70), Pickering (foul, 81), Hunt (unsporting behaviour, 90).

Colchester United red card: Robinson (serious foul play, 90).

Attendance: 3,659 (129 U’s fans).

Colchester United: Gerken, Jackson, Eastman, Prosser, Bramall, Stevenson, Comley, Senior (sub Harriott, 84), Nouble, Poku (sub Gambin, 69), Norris (sub Robinson, 90).

Substitutes (not used): Sowunmi, Lapslie, Clampin, Ross.

Crewe Alexandra: Jaaskelainen, Ng, Pickering, Wintle, Nolan, Green (sub Jones, 69), Hunt, Lowery, Dale (sub Ainley, 78), Kirk, Porter (sub Anene, 82).

Substitutes (not used): Finney, Johnson, Adebisi, Richards.

U’s man of the match: Tom Eastman.

Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne and Wear).

NEXT UP: Colchester United v Newport County, League Two, Saturday, 3pm.