Four goals, plenty of chances and a glorious sunny day - football is back!
The U’s took on Oldham on the opening day in front of over 4,000 fans at the Weston Homes Community Stadium in an exciting 2-2 draw.
The game saw U’s debutants Ben Gordon and Sean Clohessy start along with Chris Lewington, Dan Holman and George Moncur all making the bench.
A bright start saw Magnus Okuonghae open the scoring following a corner. The rest of the first half however belonged to Oldham and Jonathon Forte who netted twice.
New boy George Moncur levelled the scoring for Colchester an hour in but neither team could find the fifth and decisive goal, sharing the points.
With both teams finishing last season on high points the clearly optimistic sets of fans were lively early on, creating the kind of atmosphere an opening game of the season warrants.
Really efficient play from U’s early on saw Massey causing problems on the left and some smart cross field exchanges formed promising play on the counter.
Joe Dunne picked an attacking side with Drey Wright and Gilbey working the wings and Freddie Sears supporting Jabo Ibehre down the centre and the result was an early goal.
The Oldham defence managed to keep out Alex Gilbey’s shot with a block, but the corner to follow was anything but defended with Colchester opening the scoring on five minutes.
Ibehre met the set piece but sliced his shot and a convenient block settled the ball at the feet of Okounghae who started his captaincy era with a goal from seven yards.
Celebrations were short lived as Oldham struck an equaliser within ten minutes. Pacey Forte wriggled through the defence and past Sam Walker before finishing calmly into an open net.
Craig Eastmond was forced off midway through the half with what looked like an impact injury. West Ham loanee Moncur replaced him in the centre of the U’s midfield.
A very smartly timed run allowed Ibehre to beat the offside trip but his chip up and over Paul Rachubka fell just inches wide of the post with no change to the score line.
Just minutes later U’s were punished. Ex captain Brian Wilson put the ball at the feet of Forte who doubled his own goal tally with a neat finish at the near post.
In the last play of the half Moncur’s corner set Ibehre up for another chance. The ball was allowed all the way through the box but at the far post the striker made little connection.
A positive start had been quickly undone by a mixture of defensive lapses and incisive finishing from Forte, leaving U’s to go into half time behind to Oldham.
Colchester wasted no time getting forward from the whistle. First Sears’ shot nicked just over via a deflection and then Gilbey’s overhead kick forced a fine save from Rachubka.
Jonson Clarke Harris was causing problems for the U’s defence and after a last ditch tackle denied him, he soon forced Walker into a save as he headed down James Wilson’s cross.
The positive and resilient play from Colchester was soon rewarded as they drew level through Moncur just after the hour mark.
With Genseric Kusunga caught in possession Sears fired a shot, rattling the post. Moncur met the rebound and hit a high first time shot into the corner and out of Rachubka’s reach.
Drey Wright came off to applause from the Colchester fans after the first of hopefully many starts this season for the youngster, tricky Dominic Vose replaced him.
Clohessy did well to block an effort just in front of goal but couldn’t stop the ball falling to Forte, he however missed his chance for a hat-trick just six yards out, firing over.
Fans in the South Stand pleaded for two penalties from referee Whitestone, first after Clohessy’s cross appeared to be handled and later as Ibehre was pulled back, but no decision given.
Frantic and end to end football ensued with both teams fighting for a winning goal and looking equally good value to do so as Clarke-Harris and Ibehre got shots on target.
Oldham made late changes with Forte and James Dayton making way for Billy Gros and ex Colchester player George Elokobi who was part of U’s Championship squad.
These were soon followed by new number ten Holman, who became the fourth U’s debutant of the day as he replaced Massey.
Tenseness seemed to grip both teams in the remaining minutes of the game with neither willing to gamble too much in attack and risk conceding late on.
Three minutes of extra time provided no more answers for U’s or the Latics and the opening day shared the spoils a point a piece.