Colchester United have drawn 1-1 against Port Vale to open the 2019/20 season with a point on home turf.
Both goals came in the first half, in fact the visitors only took four minutes to score their first of the new campaign.
Tom Pope scored from the spot after Tom Lapslie fouled Manny Oyeleke, but the U's were level before half time.
Whilst the U’s would have been looking for a fast start to their first home game of the season, it was Vale who got the early confidence boost.
Luke Prosser’s pass caught Harry Pell on the back foot, and Oyeleke was able to intercept and make strides into the U’s box.
Lapslie slid in when he thought the Vale midfielder was going to shoot, but made contact and the referee pointed to the spot.
The experienced Pope stepped up and confidently lifted his penalty into the top corner, well away from the diving right hand of Dean Gerken, who had guessed correctly which way it would go.
That early goal gave the visitors confidence, and they went onto dominate the next fifteen minutes or so, but failed to really test Gerken again.
Gradually the U’s got a grip on the game, and started to put a bit of pressure on.
A good spell for the U’s came halfway through the half, with the ball continually being put into danger areas.
Frank Nouble, who was causing problems for Gibbons at right back, shot just wide and then set up debutant Cohen Bramall for a cross that drifted just over the bar.
Then Nouble was at it again, this time capitalising on a Kane Vincent-Young run and pass, but Brown in the Vale goal palmed away the effort.
As the half was coming to an end, Courtney Senior set up Luke Norris, but the U’s number nine was denied by a last ditch block.
He wasn’t denied a minute later though, as the U’s kept the pressure on down the left hand side and got the equaliser.
Jevani Brown got down the left, and hit a far post cross that Prosser did extremely well to head back into the danger area.
Norris took a quick touch to try and control the ball, then stretched out a boot to flick it past Brown to make it 1-1.
It almost got better for the U’s in the final seconds of the first half, but Harry Pell’s effort was deflected into the hands of Brown.
The U’s started the second half as they finished the first, with Norris setting up Brown for a shot that dipped just over the bar with his namesake in the Vale goal rooted to the spot.
Senior then burst into life, having a shot at goal and then just failing to make contact with an attempted overhead kick.
Nouble was next to test the opposition, but they couldn’t handle him and his shot was deflected narrowly wide into the side netting.
Luke Gambin came on for his U’s debut, and Ben Stevenson was also introduced as U’s Head Coach John McGreal went looking for a winner, and the former almost unlocked the door.
His whipped cross almost went directly in, with the keeper distracted by Norris’ run at the near post, but Leon Legge was clever enough to cover the line and cleared the danger.
Young forward Andre Hasanally was the final substitute, and he went closest to getting a late winner.
Nouble was again the architect, his drilled ball just evading the seventeen year old as he raced into the six yard box.
The final chance came in the fourth and final minute of injury time, but at the end of a great flowing move, Kane Vincent-Young’s cross was too high for the onrushing U’s forwards.
It wasn’t the win the U’s wanted from their opening game, but a point after coming from behind can’t be sniffed at.
There is a clear week ahead to recover and regroup, before the U’s travel to Devon to take on one of the promotion favourites Plymouth Argyle.