Port Vale 2 Colchester United 2: Carl Marston’s Talking Points
PUBLISHED: 12:14 28 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:14 28 January 2018
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Port Vale were there for the taking, but Colchester United rather let them off the hook in the damp and dreary Potteries for another predictable draw.
Both clubs were searching for their first victories of 2008, having endured very lean Januarys after very productive Decembers.
And it was the play-off chasing U’s who should really have broken their new year duck, after twice leading through goals from Courtney Senior and Drey Wright, only to twice be pegged back by a brace from Dave Worrall.
The second equaliser arrived with just three minutes remaining, earning the Valiants a valuable point in their quest to stay out of relegation trouble. But it could be a costly dropped couple of points for the U’s.
Lack of ambition
With a little more attacking endeavour, and positivity, Colchester United could have killed off their hosts during the second period.
Drey Wright scored his first goal of the season, in first-half stoppage time, a fine time to score against a Vale side dreadfully low on confidence.
Their keeper, Rob Lainton, recalled to the starting line-up, had endured a torrid first period and could be faulted for both of the U’s goals, so he was very vulnerable.
And Neil Aspin’s side, on the back of three defeats in their last four games, and just one point gathered from a possible 12, would have been fearing the worst when going in 2-1 down at the break.
In short, the U’s could have gone for the jugular, when instead they sat back and effectively chose to protect their slender advantage.
Chances dried up. Sammie Szomdics had a couple of quickfire shots, one blocked and one fizzing wide, but otherwise the visitors offered nothing as an attacking threat throughout the second period, much to the relief of beleaguered keeper, Lainton.
Brandon Comley replaced a fading Senior, to toughen up the midfield, while club captain Luke Prosser was introduced as a 77th minute substitute for Wright, to bolster the defence.
Boss McGreal will point to the fact that this ploy almost worked. But the key word here is ‘almost.’
Vale, still in the game, rarely threatened and struggled to mount attacks on a sticky pitch, but they had a chink of light and they took it when Worrall deflected home Luke Hannant’s 20-yarder on 87 minutes.
Were the U’s too negative? Were they too conservative?
In the context of the season as a whole, with the U’s needing wins to rekindle their promotion hopes, then you could make a case that they were both negative and conservative.
They tried to be professional, and shut out the game, and examples of time-wasting led to Kane Vincent-Young being booked.
But, ultimately, the plan did not work and the U’s let two points slip through their grasp, as well as letting Vale off the hook.
Wright’s goal drought ended
Drey Wright must have wondered whether he would ever end up scoring a goal this season.
He had struck all angles of the woodwork, peppered the target with shots and had others blocked and saved, but it was not until his 32nd game of the season, and his 29th in the league, that he finally broke his duck.
In the fourth and final minute of first-half injury-time, Wright restored the U’s lead by side-footing home from 10 yards out, after being teed up by his former Academy team-mate Sammie Szmodics.
Lainton got a hand to the shot, but could not prevent it from rolling into his net.
And so the long wait was over, aptly arriving just three days after Wright had become a Dad with the birth of his son.
Manager McGreal has shown good faith in Wright this season, and the 22-year-old has finally come up with a goal to back up the other aspects of his game. Hopefully, it proves to be the first of a few during the last 16 games of this season.
A Senior moment
In truth, Courtney Senior did not fire on all cylinders, on what was his first ever league start and his full debut for the U’s.
But the 19-year-old marked the occasion with a goal, his second of the season, finding the bottom corner of the net from Sean Murray’s lay-off on 12 minutes.
He also had one good run that left veteran defender Antony Kay bemused.
Senior was finally substituted, just after the hour mark, but he again showed enough to suggest he has a role to play over the last three months,