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Colchester United 0-0 Cheltenham Town

U's hold high-flying Robins as the points are shared

29 December 2020

Colchester United held fourth-place Cheltenham Town to a goalless draw at the JobServe Community stadium in a hard earned result for the U's.

Steve Ball elected to make three changes from the U's last game, a defeat to Southend United on Boxing Day. 

In came Miles Welch-Hayes, Tom Lapslie and Luke Norris, with Courtney Senior and Jevani Brown dropping to the bench, while Tom Eastman was not in the U's matchday eighteen at all. 

The U's started the brighter, forcing Griffiths into an early save to deny an early goal. It was Noah Chilvers who burst through the Robins' defence, but the angle became too tight and the visiting 'keeper was able to collect. 

Michael Duff's side might have been disrupted in the first ten minutes, being forced in to an early change. Matty Blair went down away from the ball holding his hamstring, and was swiftly replaced by Tom Sang at left wing back, with ten minutes on the clock. 

The visitors were the first to find the back of the net, when on seventeen minutes Alfie May neatly chipped Gerken only to look up and see the offside flag raised, meaning it stayed goalless. 

The U's were also forced into a first half change due to injury, with Michael Folivi coming off with what looked like a painful one, being replaced by Courtney Senior after twenty-five minutes. 

And it was the substitute, Courtney Senior who provided the best chance of the half so far for the U's, when he raced free on the right wing before cutting the ball back towards Luke Norris. Ben Tozer just nicked in ahead of the U's striker to deny the opening goal of the game.

With ten minutes of the half remaining the Robins started to get a little frustrated after not getting the decisions they though they had deserved. After a couple of players had gone down inthe area to no avail, both Duff and his players were fuming at the referee who they thought was denying them a clear penalty. 

Half-time probably came at a good time for Colchester United, as Cheltenham Town were really growing into the game and starting to press Gerken in the home goal. May, Sercombe and Lloyd all had shots blocked just before the whistle blew, but the home side were able to hold on and head into the dressing room goalless. 

After making one change at the break, with Sercombe being replaced by Chapman, the Robins were appealing for a penalty with three minutes of the half gone. Hussey went down easily under the pressure of Lapslie, not winning a penalty, just a talking to from the referee for simulation. 

But the U's were growing into this half, much like the Robins did in the first half. Kwame Poku carved the best chance for Steve Ball's side in the game, going the closest of either side when his swerving effort bounced off the foot of the post. Luke Norris was sliding in but couldn't quite get a touch to give his side the lead. 

And Ball's side went close again two minutes later when a recycled corner was chipped back into the back post to Omar Sowunmi, whose downward header bounced just wide of Griffiths' post. 

Cheltenham came back and started to apply the pressure once again in the final fifteen minutes, as they pressed for a winner. 

But without any real clear-cut chances they struggled to test Gerken, with Sowunmi and Smith blocking and clearing much of what had been fired at them as the game wore on. 

A late corner for Cheltenham seemed to worry U's players, but they eventually managed to clear the ball and ensure that they kept a hard-earned point at the JobServe Community Stadium. It is a point that means the U's drop one place to twelfth, with twenty-nine points. 

Up next, Tranmere Rovers are the visitors to Colchester, after their 1-1 draw away at Barrow. 

Colchester United starting XI: Gerken, Welch-Hayes, Lapslie, Smith, Sowunmi, Norris, Chilvers (Cowan-Hall 85'), Clampin, Poku (Bohui 78'), Stevenson, Folivi (Senior 25').

Unused subs: George, Brown, Cracknell, Tchamadeu. 

Cheltenham Town starting XI: Griffiths, Hussey, Tozer, Raglan, Clements, May, Blair (Sang 10'), Boyle, Azaz, Lloyd (Williams 82'), Sercombe (Chapman 46').

Unused subs: Harris, Bowry, Reid, Freestone.  

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