A MICHAEL Fernandes goal helped Colchester United's under-23s play out a 1-1 draw with Ipswich Town at Playford Road, this afternoon, writes BRIAN WALLER.

Town had the first real chance on seven minutes when they won a free-kick on the right but from the delivery across, Kai Brown's effort glance the top of the bar and go over it.

As Colchester responded a foul on Dean Ager saw Louis Dunne send his free-kick just over the bar.

Town then went close again as a superb chip by Connor O'Reilly hit the bar and although Brown converted the rebound, he was given offside. Colchester keeper Callum Coulter nearly got caught out as Loundes Foudil got there before him to knock the ball to the centre.

But some cool defending by Danny Collinge averted the danger.

The U's threatened when Che Krabbendham delivered a couple of dangerous crosses into the Town box - one of which Dunne could not get the ball down to get the shot away.

And Colchester went ahead six minutes before the break through Fernandes, who was found on the right and scored with a left foot shot into the far corner of the net.

There was a late chance in the half for Town's Zak Brown but in delaying the shot the chance went.

After the interval, Ipswich were awarded a free-kick for a foul on Foudil but Liam Gibbs sent it well over the bar.

After Ager and Freddie Hinds linked well, the later was fouled by Cameron Steward but Ager's free-kick sailed well over the bar.

Ipswich managed to scramble the next U's move clear before Colchester made two changes on the hour, with Diogo Freitas-Gouveia and a trialist replacing Ager and Hinds.

However Ipswich equalised with 15 minutes remaining through Riley Scott who half-volleyed a shot into the net from O'Reilly cross.

Colchester then had the better of the rest of the game as Ipswich keeper Jake Alley saved well to his left from Freitas-Gouveia and Collinge headed over from Dunne's corner.

Fernandes and Matt Weaire both had efforts blocked for Colchester before the end, as the spoils were shared.

Colchester United under-23s: Coulter, Scarlett, Collinge, Weaire, Campbell-Ryce, Ager, Dunne, Wright, Fernandes, Hinds, Krabbendham. Subs: Freitas-Gouveia, trialist, Hutchinson, Anderson, Hallett.