U's secure safety on final day.
Colchester United have done it - WE ARE STAYING UP!
The win made it eighteen points in their last ten games, as the U's finished on the front foot and secured League One safety for another season.
The team had spent much of the campaign in the bottom four, but managed to climb clear just when it mattered with a dramatic final day win.
Colchester had to first do their own job in gaining the three points and then wait on results around them to guarantee survival.
And end to end game ensued with both sides desperate for the win. Midway through the second half Colchester fans were left head-in-hands when Chris Porter missed from the spot.
But the day was to be Colchester’s, George Moncur fired home on the 82nd minute and with Crawley, Notts County and Leyton Orient below them at 90 minutes, U’s retained their League One status.
Promotion chasing Preston pulled the first blow in the high stakes tie with Joe Garner latching onto Daniel Johnson’s cross but his header nestled safely in Sam Walker’s gloves.
The home side had to be patient in attack but when Mathew Briggs switched the ball to Richard Brindley the full back lashed a shot, which via a deflection had to be tipped around the post by Sam Johnston.
At the other end Walker was soon called into action again keeping out Chris Humphrey’s cross after Tom Eastman had blocked a goal-bound shot from Jermaine Beckford.
The dying minutes of the first half saw key chances for both sides, first for Preston Paul Huntington looped a header onto the roof of the net from close range.
Next the lively Jacob Murphy came within inches of a goal when his scooped shot looped over the outrushing Johnston but landed just past the far post.
A tense, nervy first half came to a close with Colchester still desperate for the three points and Preston now knowing they needed to win with MK Dons keeping them out of 2nd place.
The away side once again started strong and could’ve been ahead in minutes but for Tom Eastman’s goal-saving block as Beckford closed in goal.
Then, just as the sun started to appear in Colchester, so did a glorious chance for the home side as George Moncur was felled in the box but keeper Johnston, he saw yellow as U’s got a penalty.
Chris Porter stepped up in front of the South Stand faithful but couldn’t give U’s the advantage and soared his penalty straight over the bar.
The let off from Colchester sparked extra pressure from the away side with Briggs and Eastman having to throw their bodies about in the box to block Preston shots.
A fantastic run and pass from Gavin Massey put Jacob Murphy through on goal but at close range his shot was dealt with well by Johnston in the Preston goal.
Minutes later U’s had the goal at their mercy again but Murphy found George Moncur, the midfielder could only hit a shot straight at Johnston.
Next it was Preston who would pass up a glorious opportunity, a free kick swung in from wide found Garner unmarked but from just yards out he headed wide, sending Preston fans into premature celebrations.
With ten minutes to go Tony Humes opted for change. Dion Sembie –Ferris and Sammie Szmodics replacing Murphy and Alex Gilbey.
Just minutes later Colchester had their goal. Porter made amends for his spot kick miss and his great hold up play set up Moncur who lashed the ball past Johnston in front of the South Stand.
Humes’ subs then combined for Colchester’s next move with Sembie-Ferris putting Szmodics through on goal, his shot looked destined for the corner but Johnston pulled off a world class save to deny.
And they did it - oh boy did they do it, to ensure their stay in League One or higher goes on.
Five minutes of injury time was now all that stood between Colchester and League One safety and under enormous pressure the boys held firm to secure all three points and beat the drop.