(Devitt 79)


(Senior 44)

League Two

Colchester United stretched their unbeaten League Two run to four games at Carlisle United, but it took a wonder free-kick from the hosts to peg back their visitors from Essex.

The U’s have now drawn three and won one of their last four, but had looked on course for a three-point haul after Courtney Senior gave them the lead just before half-time.

The youngster scored his second goal in three appearances to put a skip in his team’s step and they held firm until the 79th minute.

However, Jamie Devitt slammed home a beautifully-struck free-kick to record his third goal in as many games to peg Colchester back.

Despite the visitors finishing strongly, they were unable to regain their lead and had to be content with a point.

There were two changes for the U's from the side that had beaten Newport County 2-0 seven days before.

There was a first start for Wolves loanee Ben Stevenson, who had impressed and scored after coming on as a substitute last week and Drey Wright made a return to the starting line-up.

Coming out of the U’s side were Sean Murray, who hadn't recovered from the knock he picked up against Newport, but was on the bench, and Kane Vincent-Young, who was out with a hamstring problem.

It was a bright start from the U’s, with Kurtis Guthrie prepared to run at the Carlisle defence and twice drawing fouls that led to dangerous free-kicks in the opening minutes.

The home defence were able to scramble the ball away on both occasions but it was a good statement of intent from the visitors.

They looked threatening with the ball at their feet and a good one-two between Courtney Senior and Mikael Mandron opened the Cumbrians’ back line, but Senior’s control let him down and home keeper Jack Bonham was able to gratefully snaffle the ball.

It was a very open game, though, and Carlisle also had sights of the Colchester goal in the first part.

Sam Walker’s goal was threatened twice by shots from distance with Kelvin Etuhu and then Jamie Devitt chancing their arm, but the the U’s were glad to see the ball go just wide and over the bar respectively.

They went even closer on 18 minutes when former U’s player Jamal Campbell-Ryce put a wonderful ball into the six yard box.

It was perfectly-weighted on to the head of Etuhu, who made solid contact with the ball but was left amazed that it hadn’t nestled in the back of the net.

Instead, U’s keeper Walker pulled off a truly breath-taking save from point-blank range as he flung himself to his right to make sure it stayed goalless.

There was then another great save by Walker - low to his left this time - after Devitt tried his luck from distance again and the U’s stopper was on form again on 33 minutes to palm away a driven effort by Etuhu.

Having been pressed back by the hosts, Colchester looked to hit on the break, with Drey Wright and Ryan Jackson advancing down both flanks and Guthrie, Mandron and Senior combining down the middle.

That saw opportunities present themselves to the visitors, with Mandron scuffing a shot across the face of the goal and Wright curling an effort just past the post.

And they ended the half on a high as, with 44 minutes on the clock, a quick break from inside their own half saw Stevenson and Mandron lay the ball forward for Guthrie to race clear.

He carried it on and shot to the left of Bonham, who pulled off a great save low down, but could do nothing as Senior showed lovely composure to tuck the loose ball into the back of the net.

It meant the opening half ended on a high for the visitors and they continued to frustrate the Cumbrians after the restart as the home crowd grew restless with their team.

The first chance of the half for Colchester came on 50 minutes when lovely play saw Wright charge forward down the left, before crossing to Senior, who laid the ball off to Jackson and his shot stung the hands of Bonham.

While they were unable to add to their lead, though, Colchester consolidated with some some solid play in defence and midfield as they kept frustrating their hosts.

There was a pick up for the home side on 67 minutes, though, when Tom Eastman tugged back Twardek as he looked to burst through on the edge of the area and a free-kick was awarded.

Devitt stepped forward to do the honours and he sent in a curling effort that had Walker beaten, but was just too high and glanced off the top of the crossbar.

Even though they still trailed, it was an incident that seemed to lift the Cumbrians and the U’s began to get forced back towards their own goal.

With the pressure on, the U’s failed to learn the lesson from before and when Prosser clipped the heels of Clint Hill, Carlisle saw an opportunity with another dangerous free-kick.

This time Devitt found his range with incredible accuracy as he slammed the ball into the top corner to give Walker no chance whatsoever.

It was a setback for the U’s, but they responded well and broke forward in search of a winner.

First a lofted ball into the middle by Liam Mandeville, who was making his U’s debut after coming on as a substitute, had to be cleared off the line by Carlisle’s James Brown.

Then on 86 minutes, Mandron twisted and turned in the area and finally got a shot away that was deflected on to the post and Jackson drilled an effort just wide of the target.

In the end, though, there was no second goal and Colchester had to be content with just a point on their long trip back down south.

Colchester United: Sam Walker, Tom Eastman, Luke Prosser, Frankie Kent, Ryan Jackson, Brandon Comley, Ben Stevenson (Sean Murray 80), Drey Wright, Courtney Senior (Sammie Szmodics 71), Mikael Mandron, Kurtis Guthrie (Liam Mandeville 55).

Subs not used: Rene Gilmartin, Tom Lapslie, Ryan Inniss, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe.

Referee: Ross Joyce (Cleveland).