Vale earn an impressive point on the road following an encouraging second half performance as they make it three league games unbeaten.
Vale were the team who started on the front foot as Worrall was bearing down on goal within the first minute after Whitfield split the defence with a through ball. Worrall, who had Marcus Harness up in support opted for a low shot that was comfortably collected by Sam Walker.
The home team fought back immediately as a slaloming run down the left wing from Kyel Reid earned him a yard of space to deliver a low cross. The cross caused danger but was hacked away by Joe Davis.
Play was end-to-end in the first quarter of an hour, as Vale went down the other end minutes later and nearly carved out a chance. Harness beat his man on the right and delivered a low cross, which, after a spell of ping-pong in the United box was smashed away.
Colchester then began to get a stranglehold of possession, and striker Sammie Szmodics was feeling cheeky. A long ball from the left-back position was played diagonally into the small Englishmen who tried to lift an audacious volley over Boot. His effort though, also looped over the bar.
The U’s then had two quick-fire efforts on goal coming from Drey Wright and Szmodics. Wright’s effort was blocked and beaten away by the last ditch challenge from Danny Pugh. The ball fell to Szmodics on the edge of the box whose curling effort flew wide of Boot’s far post.
Just under the 20-minute mark, Ben Whitfield tried his luck from range, following Szmodics’ audacious effort. Whitfield was 25-yards from goal and had a yard of space, so tried his luck with a powerful effort that looked destined for the top corner, but for Sam Walker’s athleticism which allowed him to get up and claw the ball behind for a corner.
The deadlock was broken just after the half hour mark as a cultured, outside-of-the-foot ball down the left wing from U’s captain Tom Lapslie freed Szmodics in behind the Vale defence. Boot stayed on his line as the striker closed in on the Vale goal and slotted past the 23-year old to give the home side the lead.
Colchester should have been two-nil up only five minutes later as a strong run and good footwork from Mikael Mandron set Wright up for an easy finish, but Boot came out and managed to deflect the ball wide for a corner.
The end of the half was reasonably quiet given what came before, as the U’s took a one goal lead into the break.
HALF-TIME: Colchester United 1 – 0 Port Vale
Neil Aspin had made a change at the break for the second week in a row, and coming on was the same player as last week as Tyrone Barnett replaced Cristian Montano.
Vale began the second half in the same vein that they began the first; on top, and Antony Kay had the first chance as he unleashed an effort from 25-yards. His shot had Walker scrambling across the goal to claw away the strike that was heading for the bottom right corner.
Worrall went over to take the corner and delivered a great ball into the box that was met by Nathan Smith. Smith rose higher than anyone in the box to divert the ball goalward, but his header was cleared off the line and hooked away.
Barnett had impressed since coming on in the second half and his partnership with Tom Pope upfront was causing the U’s defence problems that they did not have in the first half.
Vale were looking dangerous, and interplay between Pope and Barnett freed Harness up on the right to whip a dangerous cross across the box but Frankie Kent intercepted the ball and set Colchester on their way.
With the hour-mark breached, Vale nearly broke the strong defence of the home side. Worrall delivered a corner from the right side that was met by Antony Kay who had the run on his marker. His emphatic header smashed against the crossbar, as Vale seemed to be building up a head of steam.
Successive attacks followed immediately from the Valiants, but the U’s defence still stood strong.
Vale were now dominating the game and chances for Whitfield and Barnett came and went without success.
However, Vale finally found themselves back on level terms.
Tyler Denton who had only been on the field a matter of seconds whipped a ball across the face of the United box. Running on to it was Marcus Harness who was a bright spark all afternoon, and he was now reaping the rewards of his performance. All Denton’s ball needed was a deft little flick goalwards which is what Harness provided as he saw his header fly past Walker.
Straight from the restart, Vale rode their luck. A ball through to U’s scorer Sammie Szmodics was cleverly brought down by the striker as he ran in behind Vale’s defence. The ball popped up for him perfectly to volley, but his effort skimmed the top of the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
Antony Kay and Tyrone Barnett saw chances come and go, before Vale had a late flurry of chances as five added minutes were shown on the fourth official’s board.
First Harness had a crack, followed by Worrall however the home side clung on for the point.
After a game of two halves, and two different Vale performances, the Valiants picked up a hard earned point on the road making it four in two away fixtures and three unbeaten in the league as we head into Christmas.
FULL-TIME: Colchester United 1 – 1 Port Vale
Colchester United: Walker, Jackson, Lapslie, Kent, Wright, Szmodics, Comley, Reid, Eastman, Mandron, Vincent-Young
SUBS: Gilmartin, Murray, Hanlan, Slater, Odelusi, Guthrie, James
Port Vale: Boot, Davis, Smith, Gunning, Pugh, Kay, Harness, Whitfield, Worrall, Montano (46), Pope
SUBS: Lainton, Denton, Kelly, Tonge, Turner, Forrester, Barnett (46)
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