SHEFFIELD United were held 1-1 at Colchester tonight, despite building a commanding early grip on the game.
The tie means that the Blades, second placed team in League One, are now two points ahead of third placed Sheffield Wednesday, on the same number of games.
United had to withstand an element of early pressure but emerged unscathed and began to take control of the proceedings with Marcus Williams making a significant contribution.
Visiting defender Matt Hill picked up a yellow card for unsporting behaviour on 26 minutes. But just after the half hour mark the Blades went ahead, Will Hoskins scoring from inside the penalty area, after a build up featuring Chris Porter and Ched Evans.
It was just reward for the way that Danny Wilson’s team had taken over the major share of possession at the Community Stadium, in Essex.
And United comfortably protected that lead until the referee blew for half time.
A dominant United, using up their game in hand over Sheffield Wednesday, looked perky at the start of the second half, with Evans having an effort not far from goal.
Colchester, who are struggling to get into the Play Off grouping, hit back with an equaliser, scouse striker Steven Gillespie scoring a superb effort from inside the penalty box, after support work from Kayode Odejayi.
United were so cheesed off they seemed to fall out with each other - Matthew Lowton appearing to get a slap across the face, according to a Sky commentator, although this could not be verified.
In the aftermath, the Us almost took the lead.
But Evans was almost on the scoresheet for the visitors with an effort at the other end, which the goalkeeper deflected past the post.
On 69 minutes, scorer Hoskins was withdrawn by Wilson to be replaced by Richard Cresswell.
But Blades goalie Steve Simonsen suddenly became the busier of the two goalies as Colchester suddenly went up a gear.
James Beattie came on for Chris Porter with 10 minutes remaining.
On 85 minutes, Evans picked up a yellow card for unsporting behaviour.
Attendance: 4,572; including 1,060 United fans.
Colchester: B Williams, Okuonghae, Gillespie, Izzet, Bond, Odejayi, Henderson, Eastman, Wilson, Wordsworth, White. Subs: Rose, Heath, Vincent, Sears, Duguid.
Sheffield United: Simonsen, Lowton, Hoskins, Doyle, Evans, Williamson, Maguire, Porter, Quinn, M Williams, Hill. Subs: Montgomery, Beattie, Cresswell, Howard, Egan.
Read James Shield’s analysis in tomorrow’s Star.