Last minute header from Callum Saunders salvages a deserved point for the Alex.
A superb glancing header from second half substitute Callum Saunders in the final minute saw Crewe Alexandra collect their first point in eight games. Saunders’ second goal of the season and his first at Gresty Road cancelled out George Moncur's opener for Colchester United which came via the penalty spot on 65 minutes.
It was no more than Crewe deserved over the 90 plus minutes as we kept ourselves going under difficult circumstances because a defeat for Colchester United would probably have seen them drop into League Two with us. A draw was a fair result and Colchester United live to fight another day in League One but their remain up against it.
Steve Davis made just one change to the side that lost 3-2 to Scunthorpe United at the weekend. Zoumana Bakayogo’s impressive display as a second half substitute against the Iron saw him reclaim his place in the starting line-up with George Cooper dropping back down to the substitutes’ bench.
Youngsters Callum Ainley and Charlie Kirk started again though and Harry Davis was deemed well enough to be included in the 18-man squad after recently suffering with tonsillitis.
Colchester United needed the three points to keep their own hopes of staying in League One alive and Kevin Keen’s side came to play a possession game. Both sides tried to get the ball down and be patient in possession but genuine chances in the early exchanges were few and far between.
George Ray and Chris Porter collided early on, which meant the U’s striker needed a short period of time after a slight facial injury. Strangely the fourth official only added one minute of injury time at the end of the half.
The former England International Nicky Shorey delivered two great crosses with Jon Guthrie flicking his defensive header away from Porter at the far post before a deep cross resulted in the impressive Alex Gilbey volleying wide of Ben Garratt’s right hand post.
Crewe’s best early move saw us keep the ball really well and switch play to the left hand side. Young Kirk, who was operating behind Marcus Haber found the Canadian International but he couldn’t quite execute a turn to get a shot off.
Soon after the Crewe duo of Kirk and Ainley combined in the middle of the park before a thrusting run from Ainley saw his cross/shot gathered by Elliott Parish close to his goal line.
Joe Edwards was then booked for fouling the pacey Zoumana Bakayogo as he threatened to run into a lot of space behind the Colchester back line. Ollie Turton was also cautioned for high tackle on Gilbey.
Colchester then tested Garratt from distance with Gilbey drilling a shot straight at the Crewe number one and George Moncur did likewise after a sharp turn on the edge of the box.
Crewe Alexandra finished the first half on top and after Parish had gifted Haber the ball on the edge of the area, but he was taken by surprise and by the time he had sorted his feet out, his shot took a deflected to take it behind for a corner.
From the resulting corner, James Jones’ excellent delivery from the right was met by defender George Ray and his header was tipped over by the agile Parish. It was Crewe’s best attempt on the Colchester goal in the first half.
In the opening exchanges, Haber over hit a cross from a good position before Saunders introduced Bakayogo to give the target man some help. Saunders injected some zest and he was joined by the willing Daniel Udoh for Haber.
Winger Gavin Massey had a shot blocked from just inside the penalty area before referee Duncan awarded a penalty after George Ray had been adjudged to have felled Frankie Kent. Moncur stepped up to slot the penalty beyond Garratt.
Crewe now had to show some real character and James Jones had a shot saved by Parish after he had shown some desire to rob possession back on the edge of the box. Cooper also came on for Ainley.
A spirited Jones had another shot blocked before Ray tried an ambitious effort from 35 yards that just cleared Parish’s crossbar. Crewe looked the more likely side to score the next goal in the game.
The lively Udoh nearly got in but was just halted at the death by a timely challenge from Tom Eastman.
In an attempt to hold onto their advantage, the more defensive Richard Brindley replaced the Colchester goal scorer Moncur.
Crewe continued to press forward and after arguably Crewe’s best performer on the night Jon Guthrie was tripped on the edge of the box, Fox produced an excellent free-kick that drew a fine save from Parish and the Colchester goalkeeper got up to also deny Saunders in the follow up.It was a fantastic double save.
Cooper nearly reached a back pass to trouble Parish and a far post header from Guthrie only needed a decisive touch from Udoh to cause some real trouble for the U’s late on.
Crewe were finally rewarded in the final minute via another Jones corner from the right. This time Saunders got a run on his marker to the near post and his glancing header defeated Parish to salvage a late point.
The Alex had an anxious wait in the final minute of the game after Nugent was booked for a pull back on the edge of the box, but either a slight touch off the wall or via the fingertips of Garratt sent Owen Garvan's free-kick just wide of the target.