Chris Porter’s 80th-minute penalty sent Sheffield United through to the second round of the FA Cup, at the expense of Colchester United
But, despite the long odds, the visitors arrived at the Weston Homes Community Stadium intent on winning this first round tie.
There were no points at stake between these two League One rivals. But plenty of pride.
So, having seen United seize control of the contest courtesy of a purposeful 45 minute display, Clough had good reason to be satisfied when referee Phil Gibbs brough the opening period to a close.
All eyes, in the away end at least, were on Porter and Miller.
The latter, making his first start since December, has been coaxed back into action after recovering from a serious knee injury and impressed with his energy and ideas.
Porter, meanwhile, was parachuted straight back into United’s team following a spell on loan at Chesterfield and marked his return with a combative first-half display against two towering Colchester centre-halves.
Nevertheless, goals are what will ultimately force Clough’s hand when it comes to selecting his squad for the game against Gillingham and, in the seventh minute, Miller came mighty close to engineering a breakthrough.
His delicate touch sent McMahon scampering towards the by-line and his near post shot was smothered by Walker.
Clough, remonstrating the full-back should have cut the ball across the six yard box, was not a happy man.
Two minutes later, though, he was positively ecstatic when MAGUIRE, United’s leading scorer this term, headed home his fifth of the campaign.
United, despite making four changes, bristled with energy and invention during the early exchanges.
So it came as no surprise when, less than 120 seconds after the defender’s opener, they doubled their lead.
The goal, claimed by PORTER but credited to the unfortunate Walker, owed as much to Colchester’s abject marking as it did United’s incisive play.
But even though the centre-forward’s cross, which was meant for Miller, found its way into the back of the net via a wicked deflections off Eastman and the on-loan Chelsea youngster’s legs, it meant the scoreboard was a fair reflection of events so far.
McMahon warmed Walker’s gloves with a 30 yard set-piece and Maguire smashed a speculative effort over the roof of the stand behind the Colchester goal as the hosts continued to try and establish some sort of foothold.
Garbutt briefly stemmed the tide with a free-kick of his own - which looped over Long’s crossbar midway just before the half hour mark - while Bean also tried his luck from long-range.
United, though, were well worth their lead when Gibbs blew for the break.
Colchester, who had not enjoyed a single shot on target throughout the entire first-half, replaced Bond with Dickson at the start of the second.
But it was BONNE, flinging himself through the air to head home Garbutt’s 47th minute cross, who handed Joe Dunne’s charges a lifeline.
The delivery and execution were excellent but, from United’s perpsective, it was a wholly preventable goal to concede with the youngster, making his first senior start, completely unmarked.
Bonne’s intervention infused Colchester with confidence and, although Porter glanced a header just past the foot of Walker’s post soon after, the hosts posed much more of a threat as Bean and Garbutt began to press forward. But United should have made the game safe just before the hour when Porter, who moments earlier had come agonisingly close to finding McGinn on the edge of the six yard box, inexplicably failed to turn home McMahon’s cross.
The striker only had Walker to beat but got his body shape all wrong and made and a dreadful hash of the finish instead. GARBUTT made United pay for their profligacy when, in the 64th minute, he powered a thunderous low drive past Long.
United, who introduced Flynn at McGinn’s expense in the 67th minute, thought they had restored their advantage moments earlier but Walker produced a superb save to parry away another angled header from Porter.
Bean blazed exciteably over the crossbar after bursting through seconds before Miller made way for Baxter with 16 minutes remaining.
The United substitute’s first contribution was the thunder a free-kick straight into the Colchester wall while Eastmond made way for Vose soon after. Then, in the 80th minute, PORTER redeemed himself by scoring the winning goal from the penaly spot.
Okuonghae was harshly adjudged to have deliberately handled Lappin’s centre - it was tough, tough call - but the United striker, desperate to atone for his earlier miss, was in no mood to sympathise and caressed the ball home in cool fashion.