It was to be a late heartbreak for the U's U18s at Coventry, as they came within minutes of registering their first league win of the season only to lose all three points with the last meaningful kick of the game.
The match saw them lose out to an 80th minute penalty and an injury time goalmouth scramble which had cancelled out Jake Hutchinson’s fifth league goal of the season which had given the U’s the lead on the hour.
United again fielding a side consisting of mainly first year scholars and U16s, who found it tough going in the first half against a well drilled and physically strong Coventry side who moved the ball around at pace and were aggressive in their approach.
However the young U’s worked hard to compete physically, defended well as a team and gradually worked their way into the game and as the half wore on they enjoyed their fair share of possession and caused Coventry problems most notably coming from good work down the flanks from the left full back Harvey Sayer and the pace of Todd Miller.
After a goalless first half, U’s started the second half clearly the brighter and took a deserved lead on the hour as top scorer Hutchinson was sent away down the inside right channel by Miller and his well struck effort across goal beat the Coventry keeper in his bottom corner.
This gave the U’s a welcome boost and although Coventry were a constant threat going forward, the U’s defended well and continued to search for a second goal.
It should have come soon after as an off the ball incident resulted in the assistant referee flagging for the referee’s attention and he duly awarded Colchester a penalty.
Coventry were clearly incensed and their angry protestations delayed the taking of the penalty kick for several minutes. Whether this distraction contributed or not, Hutchinson stepped up and his kick was poorly struck as the keeper guessed the right way and saved down to his left to keep the score at 1-0.
This clearly gave Coventry fresh impetus and they gradually gained control of the game again as Colchester’s young legs began to tire.
The equaliser was never far away and despite some valiant last ditch defending, in the 80th minute a clumsy challenge in the box resulted in Coventry being given the lifeline they needed and the resulting penalty was comfortably dispatched for 1-1.
It was a cruel blow for the youngsters who had worked so hard, but worse was to come as an injury time corner was not cleared and as the ball popped around the 6 yard box it was somehow stabbed home by the Coventry forward to give them all three points.
Despite this late blow there was still time for U’s to launch one last attempt, however a very bad challenge on Miller as he raced down the wing resulted in a melee which saw cards shown to players from both teams.