Colchester 1 Fleetwood 1

Nathan Pond and Bobby Grant salure the Fleetwood fans
Nathan Pond and Bobby Grant salure the Fleetwood fans

On a numbingly cold night in Essex there was little in the way of red hot football to warm up a sparce crowd as Fleetwood snatched a point with a below-par display at Colchester.

There was an air of training game about the early exchanges as Fleetwood struggled to find their magic touch around the Colchester box and United were limited in terms of time on the ball.

It was every bit a relegation scrap -a cagey affair in which neither side had a real grip, the limp atmosphere giving the night a reserve game feel.

Colchester were content to allow Fleetwood time on the ball, the visitors made to work as the Us sat deep and looked to grab something on the break.

It did nothing for the entertainment value of the encounter but did, in a 45 minutes where Fleetwood never hit their stride, did prove lucrative.

It took both sides the best part of half an hour to look anything near a threat.

And it was Fleetwood doing most of the work.

Jamie Proctor might have fired up the 40 visiting supporters just after the quarter hour when he got on the end of a neat Ash Hunter pass, turning delightfully but blazing over from 10 yards.

It was the kind of finish you’d expect from a striker badly out of form - snatched at, criminally failing to test Jake Kean having done the majority of the hard work.

Proctor wasn’t the only man misfiring.

Bobby Grant had looked somewhat disinterested for much of the first half, turning on the style as Fleetwood finally started to get a grip.

His neat touch started to unlock the Us down the Fleetwood right - United starting to look stretched.

Hunter’s pace wasn’t quite enough to get him on the end of a neat through ball from Grant, who was involved moments later when a Town corner was only half cleared, a driven effort from 20 yards flying past the far post.

Just as Fleetwood looked like gaining themselves a foothold they, in familar fashion, applied bullet to foot.

A long ball forward wasn’t dealt with cleanly as Colchester relieved the pressure.

Eggert Jonsson looked for help from the Town back four but none was forthcoming, Alex Gilbey stealing between Nathan Pond and Joe Davis and finding himself with room to shoot.

The finish was excellent, Colchester’s midfielder picking his spot to Maxwell’s right, driving the ball low into the corner.

Fleetwood needed to turn it up a notch to claw their way back into the game but instead it was Colchester to seized the initiative.

And they nearly grabbed a second, Chris Maxwell making all manner of mistakes as he failed to connect with a punch under pressure from George Moncur.

The ball drifted beyond the back post, Gilbey picking it up with space again to shoot, this time unable to find the target much to Fleetwood’s relief.

Town still lacked intensity to their play, struggling to find their way past a resolute Colchester defence.

The hosts gradually got deeper and deeper, Fleetwood’s efforts looking more and more like those of a man hammering against a solid blue wall.

The breakthrough looked unlikely until it came.

Maybe the hosts were shaken momentarily by the introduction of Jamille Matt, coming in from the cold after a loan spell at Stevenage.

Proctor atoned for his first half miss with a determined push down the left, showing real strength to beat his man and crossing.

The Us found themselves under pressure, the ball not cleared in a crowded box, Proctor finding it again and smashing the ball to the back post where Eggert Jonsson drove home a smart half volley.

The goal should have galvanised Fleetwood, injected belief into Steven Pressley’s side.

But it was Colchester who found themselves with the the bit between their teeth, pushing forward in search of a winner.

Moncur and Gilbey were at the heart of it, a string of substitutions helping transform the hosts’ attacking threat.

Suddenly they were running at Fleetwood, Town struggling to make tackles.

Sub Drey Wright in particular was a menace, Colchester driving balls down the middle, their runners causing all sorts of chaos around the box.

Fleetwood were looking shaky, Steven Pressley prowling the touchline calling on his men to clear their lines and relieve the pressure.

It didn’t come, Town pegged back for long spells, Moncur twisting and turning without ever causing real danger.

The closest the hosts came was through Wright who found space 20 yards out, Maxwell unsighted but the scuffed shot lacking the power to get the ball beyond the Fleetwood keeper.

Town needed a supersub of their own, Nick Haughton more than matching that description as he almost turned the tables in Fleetwood’s favours.

The midfielder showed Fleetwood’s travelling fans everything they’d been missing - hungry, dynamic and direct, looking to move the ball quickly around the box and nearly producing an unlikely winner.

He cut in from the left, the target opening up, a beauty of a shot curled across the goal, Jake Kean beaten but the ball flying the wrong side of the upright.

Haughton wasn’t the only man who might have claimed a winner, both sides almost striking a decisive blow at the death.

Sarcevic was the man for Fleetwood - Haughton again doing the donkey work but the midfielder finding himself in prime shooting position.

The miss was criminal given the position Sarcevic had found and the fact the Us keeper was already on the floor having taken a dive at the cross.

All Sarcevic needed was decent contact - had he taken time it might have been forthcoming.

But as has been the want of Fleetwood when presented with such golden opportunities, anything that could go wrong did.

Sarcevic snatched, slicing the shot which curled agonisingly wide.

It was a miss which was very nearly punished.

Colchester proved their potency once more on the break, that man Gilbey smashing through, rounding Amari’i Bell with ease and driving at Maxwell who reacted in a flash to tip the ball over.

The keeper undoubtedly rescued Town a point, Colchester unable to force their way past Fleetwood in the time remaining.