Colchester United were held to a goalless draw at the Utilita Energy Stadium against League Two rivals Bradford City in the first game of the League Two season.
The U's lined up with two changes from the team that played in the first round of the Carabao Cup, with Miles Welch-Hayes and Luke Gambin coming in for Miquel Scarlett and Callum Harriott.
New Zealand international Tommy Smith lined up to play in his 400th career game, with sixteen year old Samson Tovide on the Colchester United bench for the first time.
Colchester United starting XI: Gerken, Welch-Hayes, Bramall, Smith, Pell, Brown, Chilvers (Marshall-Miranda 90'), Eastman, Poku (Cowan-Hall 85'), Stevenson, Gambin (Senior 66').
Unused: George, Sowunmi, Scarlett, Tovide.
The home side got off to a good start and would have counted themselves unlucky not to be ahead after eight minutes. Dylan Mottley-Henry cut inside Bramall and drove into the box before cutting the ball back to Novak. His shot was deflected and saved by Gerken, before the follow up was scooped off the line by Eastman.
Cohen Bramall's set pieces were a constant threat for the U's, with his corners and free kicks being delivered dangerously in the box. Eastman and Pell were both keen to attack and unlucky not to make contact with the two O'Connor's and Staunton providing good cover for the home defence.
Staunton was caught out of position after twenty minutes and shown a yellow card by Ross Joyce. Kwame Poku was sprinting down the right wing and had the better of the Bradford centre back before he decided to pull Poku back.
Kwame Poku was then unlucky not to open the scoring after thirty five minutes played. Jevani Brown was looking dangerous in the box and worked some space with a neat turn. He cut the ball back to Poku who's shot was straight at the legs of O'Donnell before his the home side were able to clear.
Poku was looking towards goal again a minute later. Brown again picked him out on the edge of the area, as the young winger's shot was quickly closed down and cleared by Mottley-Henry.
Former Colchester United man Kurtis Guthrie was getting himself in the mix in the first half, with a couple of shots that didn't really test Gerken in the U's goal. On fourty five minutes though he really should have done better with a free header in the box that was straight down Dean's throat, moments before the half time whistle blew.
The U's started the second half the brighter of the two teams, as they created a few good chances in the second period.
Luke Gambin went close to opening the scoring twenty minutes into the second half when a flick on from Jevani Brown found him in space on the far side. His low shot was saved by O'Donnell as the Bradford defence struggled to keep up with him.
Gambin did have the ball in the back of the net just a minute later but looked up to see the flag raised for offside. From a similar position to his first shot, he beat O'Donnell but the goal was disallowed.
The home side also had a goal disallowed in the second half as the game became more end to end with full time drawing closer. Lee Novak found the corner of the net, but the previous pass to Donaldson was offside, with the flag on the far side up.
The U's best chance of the game came with thirteen minutes left to play. Cohen Bramall was like lightning down the left side as he drove a low cross into the box. Jevani Brown couldn't quite get a toe to the ball at the near post which would have given United the lead, as the ball ran through and away.
Dean Gerken was alert at the other end of the pitch, as he got across well to save from Harry Pritchard with four minutes remaining, and had further work to do in front of goal as the home side pressed for a late winner. He bravely punched the ball away with Clayton Donaldson on the attack.
After a nervy last few moments with Bradford firing over a late free kick, the U's held on for a good point on the road in the opening game of the season. The result leaves the U's in fifteenth place in the league.
Next up for Colchester United is the first home game of the season. Bolton Wanderers come to the JobServe Community Stadium off the back of a 1-0 defeat at home to Forest Green.