Colchester 1-1 Wednesday
Weston Homes Community Stadium, Colchester
14/4/12 - 3pm
Wednesday's bid for automatic promotion from League One took a hit at the Weston Homes Community Stadium as the Owls could only manage a draw against Colchester United.
Victory elsewhere for Sheffield United moved the Blades four points clear in second with just three games to go, leaving Dave Jones and his men staring at a potential play-off outing to achieve promotion to the Championship.
Ian Henderson opened the scoring for the hosts early on before Miguel Llera netted his third goal in as many games to get the Owls back on level terms. But the visitors couldn't find that important winner and Michael Antonio had a late goal controversially chalked off for offside.
Jones made one change to the side that beat Oldham Athletic on Easter Monday with Mark Beevers coming in to replace Julian Bennett at left-back. Lewis Buxton was passed fit to start at right-back.
But the visitors started in the worst possible fashion, allowing the U's in to open the scoring just three minutes in. Steve Gillespie played in Henderson and he slotted the ball beyond Owls goalkeeper Stephen Bywater from close-range.
It took Wednesday a while to settle into their stride but when they did they produced two good chances to get back on level terms.
First, Gary Madine headed wide and then strike partner Niles Ranger missed a guilt-edged chance from close-range after Michael Antonio had put the ball on a plate for the on-loan Newcastle United man.
Chris Lines then saw a low long-range shot comfortably saved by Ben Williams in the Colchester goal.
But the visitors were largely frustrated in the first-half, with chances and passes going astray. There was no real fluency to proceedings and the chances dried up before the interval, something that perhaps suited the U's.
Half-Time: Colchester 1-0 Wednesday
Wednesday needed to up their game in the second half and Jones's words clearly had the desired effect on the resumption as the Owls came out all guns blazing.
It resulted in the equaliser, and it came from Wednesday's man of the moment Llera. Madine won a free-kick out wide and Lines produced a dangerous ball that the Spanish defender poked home for his third goal in as many games.
It lifted the visitors and they upped their gear in search of another goal. Madine came close with a header that went inches over the bar just minutes later.
Jermaine Johnson also saw a typically powerful strike deflected wide as Wednesday piled on the pressure. They forced a number of corners but Colchester defended them well.
The U's were the draw specialists of the league going into the game but, to be fair, the hosts weren't just holding out and were going for a winner of their own down at the other end.
But the majority of the play was with Wednesday, they just weren't carving out the chances necessary to win the game. Johnson and Lines did have half chances but they were comfortably dealt with.
Owls boss Jones was, however, unhappy with the decision to rule out a goal from Antonio late on. The on-loan Reading winger found the back of the net from an O'Grady ball but the linesman deemed him to be in an offside position.
It was Wednesday's last chance, as the referee blew full-time on an encounter which could spell the end of Wednesday's top-two push this season.
Colchester: Williams, Okuonghae, Gillespie, Izzet (Odejaye 74), Bond, Henderson (O'Toole 87), Eastman, Wilson, Wordsworth, White, Duguid. Unused substitutes: Rose, Heath, Sears.
Wednesday: Bywater, Buxton, Llera, Batth, Beevers, Antonio, Lines, Semedo, J Johnson, Madine, Ranger (O'Grady 72). Unused substitutes: Weaver, D Jones, Prutton, M Jones.