Colchester United needed a late equaliser from John Akinde to salvage a 2-2 draw against Southend United, after the visitors had orchestrated a second half fightback at the JobServe Community Stadium.
Colchester took the lead inside the opening half an hour as Freddie Sears slotted home in the twenty-third minute courtesy of some excellent forward play by John Akinde.
Southend fought back and found their equaliser in the seventieth minute, courtesy of a deflected Dan Mooney effort from twenty yards.
The visitors completed the comeback just five minutes from time, with Cav Miley driving low through the arms of Sam Hornby.
But it was Colchester who snatched a late equaliser, with Akinde’s looping header in stoppage time beating Steve Arnold in what was to be the last kick of the game.
Colchester started on the front foot, Akinde saw his close-range effort saved by Arnold, with Noah Chilvers sending his follow up over the bar. The twenty-one-year-old went close just a minute later, finding himself one-on-one with Arnold, who stood tall to keep out the U’s midfielder.
Southend grew into the game, with Harry Taylor and Mooney doing their best to penetrate the well-organised Colchester backline, courtesy of a few floated balls over the top towards Sam Dalby.
A few chances fell Southend’s way, but it was the U’s who took the lead through Sears. Some excellent battling by Akinde saw the target man win the ball back on the left-hand side, before the thirty-three-year-old powered his way into the box, beating his man and sliding the ball across to Sears who only had the keeper to beat.
The U’s looked to push on following the opener, with Chilvers, Sears and Akinde initiating a high press against a Southend setup who were looking for a more direct approach in behind Luke Chambers and Tom Eastman.
Dalby came closest for Southend in the opening forty-five minutes, striking the woodwork with a well-placed header after Jack Bridge whipped a dangerous ball in towards the striker.
The game stretched towards the end of the first half, with Hornby covering off a few low-level chances from Southend before the referee blew his whistle, sending the U’s in ahead at the Jobserve Community Stadium.
No changes from either side as we got underway for the second half, and the U’s looked fired up as Luke Hannant tried his luck from range moments after kick-off, sending his effort just wide of the post.
Southend also went close early in the second half, after Bridge had won the ball from Cameron Coxe in his own half, the ball was laid off to Mooney, who’s fizzing strike whistled past Hornby’s far post.
It was the visitors who were on top for early parts of the second half, Southend had made three changes and their fresh legs looked to be giving their side a boost as the pushed for an equaliser.
With twenty minutes to go, the visitors were back in it. Some determined play from a Southend triallist saw him brush off a cynical challenge before driving into the box and passing the ball to Mooney, who’s deflected strike found its way past Hornby.
The match seemed to spark into life following Southend’s equaliser, with some full-blooded tackles flying in from both sides, and Mooney going close again with a dipping volley.
Wayne Brown opted for a couple of changes with ten minutes to go, introducing Al-Amin Kazeem and Alex Newby to replace Ryan Clampin and Luke Hannant.
However, it was Southend who struck again just five minutes from time. Miley drove low past Hornby after Callum Powell had dispossessed Coxe, before laying the ball off to the midfielder, who found the back of the net.
Despite the visitor’s best efforts to defend their lead, Colchester equalised through Akinde in the dying moments. Sears saw his effort palmed into the air by Arnold, and Akinde used his height to send a looping header into the back of the net, drawing the U’s level.
Akinde’s goal was the last action of the match, which finished level between the two sides, in what was a relatively even affair. Southend put on a good show for their travelling supporters, but the U’s showed a determination and desire to fight until the very end.
Colchester have two pre-season games left, with a Colchester United XI facing Chelmsford in a quick turnaround tomorrow night at Maldon and Tiptree’s stadium. The U’s then travel to Ebbsfleet on Saturday for their final turnout before the new domestic season gets underway on the 30th July.
Colchester XI: Hornby, Coxe, Chambers, Eastman, Clampin (Kazeem), Skuse, Judge, Hannant (Newby), Chilvers, Sears, Akinde
Subs: George, Cracknell, Kazeem, Miranda, Cooper, Tovide, Newby, Terry