Colchester United got their first point of 2021 with a 1-1 draw at home to Cambridge United, with both goals coming from the visiting side. Knibbs opened the scoring before an own-goal from Greg Taylor earned the U's a point.
Steve Ball’s side got their first game of 2021 underway with a home game against promotion chasing Cambridge United at the JobServe Community Stadium.
Ball had a few more players at his disposal than the last time his team turned out, with Pell, Eastman, Harriott and Bramall all returning to the starting line-up.
The U’s started looking for an early goal on the testing pitch that was still slightly dusted with snow. Jevani Brown was following the ball all the way back to the visiting ‘keeper before his clearance was blocked across the face of goal without a U’s presence to attack the loose ball.
Sowunmi had a chance two minutes later with Mitov forced into a save with the U’s almost scoring from the resulting corner. Tommy Smith got his head to the ball and flicked it on at the near post but was unable to find the target as it flew out for a goal kick.
But it was the visitors who got their noses in front just after the ten minute mark. Bonner’s side initially had penalty appeals waved away, which eventually worked in their favour. Hoolalan picked up the ball in the second phase with his deflected effort falling to Mullin. The top scorer fired across goal, with Gerken saving well by Knibbs standing unmarked at the back post to tap in.
But after the visitors had got the opening goal, both sides struggled with the conditions to really create any clear cut opportunities. Neither 'keeper had any work to do until the thirty-ninth minute when Colchester United found an equaliser.
Callum Harriott will want the goal, although it will go down as an own-goal from Greg Taylor. The U's winger collected the ball on the apex of the area before unleashing a powerful effort that looked to be going wide. But an outstretched leg from Taylor diverted the ball through Mitov in the Cambridge goal and levelled up the game.
Once again, with the remaning minutes of the first half, both sides were struggling to create clear cut chances, with the whistle blowing for half time at 1-1.
Once again, chances were few and far between for either side at the start of the second half, with neither 'keeper touching the ball in the opening twenty minutes.
Play was stopped momentarily by the referee after an injury to Luke Hannant, who had to be replaced by Joe Ironside, with the visiting man looking in some degree of pain.
Steve Ball's side had penalty appeals waved away in the sixty-fourth minute with Jevani Brown the man being challenge in the area. Harry Darling leant on the U's man who went to ground, but all appeals from the home side fell on deaf ears.
The U's pressed on and looked for a winner, and they looked to be the only side that were going to win the game.
Tom Eastman stung the palms of Mitov with a driven effort that looked to be arrowing into the bottom corner, a similar effort that provided the hosts a goal in the first period.
U's captain, Harry Pell was next to try his luck, but his effort didn't reach the away 'keeper, as Darling blocked away his powerful strike that also looked like it was heading for the bottom corner.
Mitov was called into action from a U's set play as Chilvers stepped up to strike the ball, curling it over the wall and towards the bottom corner, but for the shot-stopped to get across and hold on to the effort with U's attackers running in.
The man between the Cambridge sticks was once again forced to deny the U's with less than five minutes left to play, as Pell tested the 'keeper. Bramall's driven cross found the U's captain who turned the ball towards goal with Mitov grasping the ball at the second attempt.
But Cambridge broke forwards and had a great chance to snatch all three points with less than two minutes remaining. League Two top scorer Paul Mullin got the better of Omar Sowunmi, cutting onto his right foot, and shot but couldn't hit the target with the U's relieved.
It's a point that moved the U's back in to the top half of the table, up to twelfth position ahead of Mansfield Town.
Next up for the U's is the long trip to Morecambe next Saturday, with the Shrimps falling to a 2-0 defeat this afternoon at the hands of Leyton Orient.
Colchester United starting XI: Gerken, Bramall, Smith, Sowunmi, Pell, Brown, Harriott (Bohui 90'), Chilvers, Eastman, Poku (Senior 77'), Stevenson.
Unused Subs: George, Clampin, Marshall Miranda, Tovide, Tchamadeu.
Cambridge United starting XI: Mitov, Knoyle, Digby, Taylor, Darling (O'Neil 79'), Hannant (Ironside 64'), Mullin, Dunk, Hoolahan, May (Cundy 79'), Knibbs.
Unused Subs: Burton, Iredale, Okendina, Davies.