Match report: Colchester United 1 Doncaster Rovers 1

Rovers were punished for a lacklustre first half as they were held to a point by play-off chasing Colchester United in their first game since sealing promotion.

Friday, 14th April 2017, 2:50 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 7:20 pm
Colchester United v Doncaster Rovers

Mathieu Baudry's headed equaliser in first half stoppage time got Darren Ferguson's side off the hook after being largely outplayed by the hosts at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Though they were much better after the break, and arguably should have won the game given a selection of excellent chances, this one could generally go down as an off day.

Ferguson made two changes to the side that started the promotion-sealing win over Mansfield Town.

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Ian Lawlor was absent, replaced between the sticks by Marko Marosi.

And Andy Williams also missed out, with Conor Grant returning to the starting XI following a groin injury.

Rovers struggled to get going against the energetic , play-off chasing hosts. They could not get hold of the ball for any real length of time, found space at a premium, and were largely out-worked by Colchester.

Ferguson was furious on the sidelines as he continuously watched his players squander possession and find themselves on the back foot.

Colchester punished Rovers' lacklustre start as they took the lead on 16 minutes.

Drey Wright squared to Richard Brindley, who flicked the ball on with a backheel which left the Rovers defence standing and Dickenson ran in and curled a wonderful effort into the top corner from the edge of the box.

It almost got worse for Rovers two minutes later. Chris Porter picked the ball up 25 yards and smashed a shot off the upright.

Colchester enjoyed the better of territory and possession after taking the lead, with Rovers struggling to get out of their own half.

But it took a sensational block to prevent them equalising with a rare attack.

John Marquis slipped his marker to run clear onto a long ball, before cutting back onto his left foot only to see his precision shot blocked superbly by Tom Eastman on the slide.

Marquis also hooked wide under pressure on the edge of the box as he met a Grant cross.

Colchester continued to have the better of the ball and threatened much the greater, particularly down the left where goalscorer Dickenson was enjoying a profitably afternoon.

But after a half of struggle where they barely saw the opposition goal, Rovers grabbed the equaliser in stoppage time.

Gary McSheffrey floated in a free kick which Baudry met with a powerful header.

It proved to be Baudry's last act in the game as he was substituted at the break with Aaron Taylor-Sinclair given his first minutes of the season.

Rovers switched to a 4-4-2 diamond with Taylor-Sinclair partnering Andy Butler at centre half.

And they were immediately brighter, seeing much more of the ball and enjoying plenty of threat.

McSheffrey went close with a free kick from 25 yards which clipped the foot of the post.

Colchester looked lively on the break and Wright smashed a shot just wide after a marauding run across the pitch.

Rovers were the side on the front foot however.

Matty Blair latched onto a fine ball by Conor Grant but was denied from 15 yards by Sam Walker.

McSheffrey smashed over the bar from 20 yards while Rowe saw a close range effort blocked after a superb run into the box.

Substitute Alfie May should have put Rovers in front on 68 minutes.

He was sent scampering clear on goal after a well-timed run onto a ball over the top but his shot was closed down by Walker.

At the other end, Sean Murray saw a low strike deflected just wide.

Chances diminished in number for both sides as the game wore on.

Colchester had a shout for a penalty when substitute Rekeil Pyke tumbled attempting to meet a Tarique Fosu cross.

And both men went close with headers in stoppage time as Colchester looked the more likely to score.

But both sides had to settle for a point.

Colchester: Walker, Eastman, James, Elokobi (Briggs 86), Lapslie (Loft 88), Brindley, Murray, Fosu, Dickenson, Porter, Wright (Pyke 76). Subs not used: Brill, Briggs, Wynter, O'Sullivan, Kinsella.

Rovers: Marosi, Baudry (Taylor-Sinclair 46), Butler, Alcock, Blair, Mason, McCullough, Rowe, Grant, McSheffrey (May 62), Marquis. Subs not used: Jones, Wright, Middleton, Beestin, Longbottom.

Referee: David Webb (Lancashire)

Attendance: 4,720 (716)