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Colchester United 1-1 Barrow AFC

Late equalis

5 April 2021

Callum Harriott's first half strike looked to have given Colchester United a valuable win and the first of Hayden Mullins' reign in charge of the U's.

But a late qualiser from Tom Beadling meant that the U's were forced to take a single point instead of all three as the Bluebirds head back up to Cumbria with a point as well. 

Hayden Mullins named a line up with two changes from the side that drew 0-0 at Bolton Wanderers for the U's game against Barrow. 

Callum Harriott returned from international duty to the starting lineup, with Jevani Brown also recalled. Tom Lapslie was named on the bench, as was Noah Chilvers. 

The game started fairly evenly, as Barrow looked to contain the U's for the opening ten minutes, but Hayden Mullins' side soon found their rhythym as they looked to break the deadlock. 

Ryan Clampin's marauding run from his own half earned him the opportunity to shoot, but he couldn't guide his right foot effort on target as Dixon was able to watch it over his bar. 

But twenty minutes in, Dixon was at the heart of a contentious decision that saw the U's have a goal ruled out. After a poor punch from a corner, the Barrow 'keeper spilled the ball as he landed, with Sarpong-Wiredu pressuring, and nodding the ball into the net. The whistle blew for a free kick to the away side, with the U's perhaps unlucky not to take the lead. 

It wasn't long before the deadlock was broken though, as Harriott's driven effort gave Colchester United the lead. It was a fantastically worked goal from Hayden Mullins' side as Senior's cross to Nouble was headed back to Harriott to lash the ball home after thirty-three minutes. 

The U's had a golden chance two minutes later but were unable to double their advantage. Frank Nouble's effort brought out a save from Dixon with Sarpong-Wiredu following up at the back post, slipping at the vital moment before he was able to tap the ball into the net. 

Colchester United were the better team heading to the break, but had to ensure they were clear of the threats posed by Quigley and James up front for the visitors as the Bluebirds pressed for an equaliser. They were unable to get one though as United headed to the dressing room ahead. 

Barrow came out in the second half needing to improve on their performance, and they did. 

The Bluebirds were piling the pressure on Colchester United from the off, but without really testing Gerken. 

There were opportunities for the away side with Tom Beadling spurning a brilliant chance after breaking through on the right wing, but he was unable to find the target as the ball rolled wide. 

Rob Kelly's side brought on an extra forward and changed their shape and approach in the form of Calvin Andrew, looking more direct. And the big target man almost had an instant impact when he chested the ball down before firing the ball at Gerken, only for the U's 'keeper to grasp the ball. 

Hayden Mullins' side had their chances, with Sarpong-Wiredu's header flying over the bar, and the best chance for Frank Nouble. Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu set the U's front man with a measured chipped ball, but Nouble skewed the ball wide with just Dixon to beat. 

But the visitors got what was probably a deserved goal with two minutes of normal time to go, when Tom Beadling side footed the ball beyond Gerken from just inside the area to level the game. 

With very little time to play, the U's had to defend a further onslaught of pressure from the away side, but were able to hold on to earn one point from the game. 

It means that Colchester United now have forty-one points from forty games, six ahead of Southend United who have a game in hand. 

Colchester United starting XI: Gerken, Welch-Hayes, Smith, Senior (Tchamadeu 83'), Pell, Brown (Lapslie 69'), Harriott, Eastman, Clampin, Sarpong-Wiredu, Nouble. 

Unused subs: George, Doherty, Chilvers, Stevenson, Folivi. 

Barrow starting XI: Dixon, Brough (Kay 42'), J Taylor (C Taylor 60'), Quigley, Jones, Ntlhe (Andrew 75'), Barry, Thomas, James, Devitt (Beadling 60'), Banks (Eardley 60'). 

Unused subs: Moloney. 

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