IT’S no understatement to say that Danny and Nicky Cowley have improved Colchester United’s fortunes, in a short space of time.

The U’s management duo have made quick inroads in many areas since their arrival at the start of last month and that showed in their overall performance at in-form Harrogate Town but there was nevertheless a feeling of dreaded familiarity about their 1-0 defeat, in North Yorkshire.

When Jack Muldoon netted the hosts’ winner in the second minute of stoppage time, Colchester fans at the EnviroVent Stadium might well have experienced a nagging sense of deja-vu, given the number of times it has happened to their side, in the 2023-23 campaign.

READ MORE: Danny Cowley's verdict on Colchester defeat at Harrogate

In total, Colchester have conceded goals on and after the 79th minute in 14 of their league and cup matches this season, with all but one of those late goals being shipped before the Cowleys’ arrival.

The defeat was harsh on the U’s; it felt harder to take, given how well they had played for long periods.

Colchester merited at least a point from the game particularly given their impressive first-half performance, where they had their in-form hosts on the back foot and looked particularly dangerous, while at the other end largely snuffing out Harrogate’s goal threat.

Only a magnificent save from goalkeeper James Belshaw denied the impressive Noah Chilvers a stunning goal before half-time and in total, Colchester carved out 20 shots on goal in the opening 45 minutes.


But the harsh reality is that they had nothing to show for it; Harrogate somewhat inevitably improved after the break and despite the introduction of attacking substitutes, the U’s were unable to make the breakthrough.

Sure enough, they were punished in the dying embers of the match by a scrappy goal which Owen Goodman will not look back on with any fondness.

The Colchester goalkeeper will know he needed to do better to hold onto Matty Daly’s strike prior to Muldoon netting but the truth is that had his side been more clinical at the other end of the pitch, that moment might not have been as crucial.

READ MORE: Colchester United fans have their say on Harrogate Town defeat

"When you're having as much dominance as that, you have to be ruthless and we weren't and then in the second half, too many of our players fell out of the game,” admitted Cowley, who made no excuses for his side’s defeat despite their competent display.

It is perhaps a barometer for how far Colchester have come in the last few weeks under the Cowleys that they should more than match the division’s in-form side on their own patch and come so close to beating them.


The feeling of conceding late was in direct contrast to the elation of Brad Ihionvien’s last-gasp equaliser at Swindon Town last month, in Danny and Nicky’s first game in charge.

It was a tough one to take but Colchester must recover quickly from the disappointment, with a crucial home game against Grimsby Town on the horizon, on Tuesday night.