Stevenage missed another opportunity to claim all three points at home after being held by Colchester United.

Connor Hall had put Colchester in front in the first half and there were plenty of grumbles after another absentee opening 45 minutes Steve Evans' men.

Alex Gilbey equalised two minutes into the second half though but again they failed to capitalise on home advantage and finished with a 1-1 draw.

The Boro boss had warned fans to expect some big players to be missing and the first of those was Jon McCracken, an ankle injury sending the Scot back to parent club Norwich City.

It meant Thimothee Lo-Tutala became the club's seventh goalkeeper of the season, the Hull City going straight into the starting line-up.

Aside from him, there were another three changes from the draw at Northampton Town.

Out altogether went Jake Reeves and Dean Campbell, while Luke Norris was on the bench.

Jamie Reid, the hero at Northampton, came in as did Jake Forster-Caskey and Danny Rose, who made equally valuable contributions at Sixfields.

The opening 10 minutes promised much but didn't deliver.

Carl Piergianni had the first chance as he peeled away to the back post to meet a Forster-Caskey free-kick.

He was on the stretch and running away from goal but still got his header in. Kieran O'Hara though in the United goal stayed big and made the block.

Reid had the best chance after making space for a shot with a clever turn.

However, unlike last week against Northampton, this time he failed to catch it at all and the ball skewed off his left foot and flew so far wide it bounced off the wall of the police control room.

It still felt as if Colchester were there for the taking if Boro could find some fluidity when on the ball.

Needless to say, that was the point the visitors chose to stun the Lamex by going in front.

A free-kick clipped down the left of the box found Arthur Read who in turn laid it back to Noah Chilvers.

And when his cross wasn't dealt with, Hall stabbed it home, wrong-footing Lo-Tutala.

And to say the Lamex was stunned, was an understatement.

The noise disappeared and the performance from then to half-time did little to bring it back.

There were too many long balls, too many knock downs that weren't read and too many wasted moments of possession.

In fact Colchester should have scored again but Freddie Sears made a complete harsh of a corner that was flicked on to him, swinging and missing at the back post.

Changes were expected at the break from the hosts, a Steve Evans staple these days, but they didn't come.

Two minutes later, nobody cared any more about that as Boro drew level - and they certainly didn't care that it wasn't pretty.

Jordan Roberts drove at the defence before slipping it to his left to Gilbey and his low cross, which is definitely what it looked like, squirmed inside the near post, seemingly off the keeper.

The response though from Colchester was impressive and showed that they had nothing to loose.

And it could have brought success.

Samson Tovide, who had come on at half-time, spun Max Clark way too easily but as he was about to shot, in came Piergianni with an excellent block tackle.

Chilvers then slipped when he burst into the box and Lo-Tutala made a superb point-blank save to push away a Luke Chambers header.

But slowly Stevenage did start to create chances and Norris had a glorious one just six minutes after coming on.

He ran across the defender to meet a low Roberts delivery but somehow powered the shot wide of the target.

Gilbey had another attempt, a volley, that went down the throat of the keeper but still needed firm hands to push away.

Stevenage's injury jinx struck again with 10 minutes to go as Norris had to go off. He looked in pain on the floor and although he didn't require a stretcher, he couldn't put any weight on it.

Terence Vancooten had to limp out of the fray too which was hopefully just cramp and not a recurrence of his hamstring problems.

Seven minutes of stoppage time brought chances for Roberts, a flashed header that never looked like going on target, and then a thumping drive from Piergianni that was straight down the keeper's throat.

Jake Taylor did put the ball in the net late on but there was a foul by Roberts on the keeper and with that, Boro's chances of the win disappeared.


Stevenage: Lo-Tutala, James-Wildin, Clark, Piergianni, Sweeney, Roberts, Vancooten (Bostwick 87), Gilbey, Reid (Norris 59, Taylor 82), Forster-Caskey (Horgan 87), Rose.

Subs (not used): Przybek, K.Smith, Tomkinson.

Goals: Gilbey 47

Booked: Vancooten 80, James-Wildin 83


Colchester United: O'Hara, Chambers, Sears (Tovide 46), Chilvers, Read (Marshall-Miranda 75), Ashley, Tchamadeu, Wood, Hopper (Akinde 85), Hall.

Subs (not used): T.Smith, Greenidge, Jay, Fevrier.

Goals: Hall 18

Booked: Read 10


HT: Stevenage 0 Colchester United 1

Referee: James Oldham (Derbyshire)

Attendance: 4,763 (including 624 from Colchester)