Exeter City ended 2019 two points off the top of Sky Bet League Two after they fought back from a goal down to earn a well-deserved point at Colchester United.
Ryan Bowman got the all-important equaliser from the penalty spot with 14 minutes left to play after he had raced through on goal only to be brought down by Tom Lapslie. It represented and entertaining end to what was a match that initially City had taken the lead in before falling behind to goals from Harry Pell and Theo Robinson.
City manager made four changes to the starting line-up as in came Jayden Richardson, Ben Seymour, Archie Collins and Matt Jay for Ryan Bowman, Nicky Law, Jack Sparkes and Nigel Atangana.
The Grecians went into the match looking for their third consecutive away victory and to extend their good run of form to one loss in the last 13. However, the hosts, in fourth place in the division, were also unbeaten in eight and hadn’t suffered defeat at the Jobserve.com Stadium in League Two since Morecambe were 1-0 victors against them on Saturday, October 19.
The hosts started the match brightly as Callum Harriott fired an effort from 25 yards out that forced Jonny Maxted to dive low and save to his left in the opening minute. However, moments later Archie Collins crossed for Ben Seymour to bring an equally impressive save out of Dean Gerken with a first-time volley.
Then, after seven minutes, City were in front as a neat passing move saw the ball played into Jake Taylor in the area and he fired a shot across goal and into the far corner of the net.
Colchester United were quick to respond though and penned City back for the 10 minutes that followed before equalising with a header from Harry Pell. City were looking after the ball better though and looked the more dangerous side for the remainder of the first half and came closest to a second when Randell Williams floated a free-kick onto the top of the crossbar.
In truth it was the home side who started the second half the better as Robinson headed a good chance wide five minutes into the second half before Tom Eastman scuffed a long-range effort of target. However, the goal that put the Us in front was slightly fortunate as it came from a shot from outside the box that Aaron Martin blocked, only for the ball to fall kindly into the path of Robinson who side-footed the ball home.
City pushed forward from this point on though and after good chasing down from substitute Nigel Atangana a Colchester midfielder inadvertently played the ball in behind his own defence for Bowman to latch onto. The in-form striker went through on goal and was shoved over by Lapslie leaving referee Charles Breakspear with no option but to point to the spot and give the 5ft 6 midfielder his marching orders.
Bowman stepped up to take the spot kick and expertly dispatched it into the bottom right corner. However, from then on City only had a Nicky Ajose header which really threatened to put them in front once more and in fact the best chance in the closing stages fell to Pell, but he blazed over from eight yards out in the first minute of time added on.
Colchester United: Gerken, Jackson, Bramall (Lapslie, 29), Sowumni (Kensdale, 78), Pell, Robinson, Harriott, Eastman, Stevenson, Gambin, Poku (Nouble, 64). Subs not used: Ross, Senior, Norris, Comley.
Booked: Pell, Stevenson
Exeter City: Maxted, Sweeney, A Martin, L Martin (Bowman, 55), Williams, Parkes, Jay (Atangana, 66), Richardson, Taylor, Collins, Seymour (Ajose, 73). Subs not used: Ward, Tillson, Law, Warren.