COLCHESTER United were left frustrated after they were held to a goal-less draw by bottom club Stevenage this afternoon.

The U's played against ten men for more than 70 minutes at the Lamex Stadium but were unable to find a crucial breakthrough, despite dominating possession and chances throughout.

Tom Soares was sent off in the 19th minute for a bad foul on Luke Gambin but despite having the bulk of the opportunities, the visitors could not take advantage.

It was a disappointing outcome for Colchester, who had to be content with a third successive draw in League Two.

Colchester head coach John McGreal made one change to his starting line-up for their game at Stevenage.

Leading scorer Luke Norris came into the starting line-up in place of Theo Robinson, who dropped to the bench.

There was also a place among the substitutes for striker Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, whose last U’s appearance came on January 19, 2019, while midfielder Tom Lapslie was back from suspension and was also on the bench.

Colchester started the game as firm favourites against the bottom side but they almost fell behind inside the opening minute when Ryan Jackson had to turn the ball over his own bar from close range after Elliott List had run at the U’s defence and crossed into the six-yard box.

Luke Norris’s header from Harry Pell’s deep cross was easily saved by keeper Paul Farman but Colchester then received an even bigger let off in the tenth minute when Dean Parrett missed his kick just in front of goal after being picked out by Craig Mackail-Smith seven yards from goal.

Colchester then began to warm to the task though and almost took a 14th minute lead when Harry Pell headed wide of the far post from a good position after Callum Harriott had swung in a dangerous free-kick.

Stevenage were then reduced to ten men in the 19th minute when Tom Soares appeared to come off the floor with both feet and connect with Luke Gambin midway inside the Colchester half and was sent off.

Stevenage were incensed at the decision but Gambin had got their ball first and it looked a bad challenge.

Colchester began to look more dangerous after than and just before the midway point in the first half, Farman made a great diving save to push away Norris's header only for the referee to award a free-kick.

Just before the half hour, there was a moment of concern for the U’s when Dean Gerken came rushing out of his goal and Chris Stokes tumbled down under the keeper's challenge just outside the area but the referee waved away the home side’s claims for a foul.

Colchester could not believe they were not ahead in the 34th minute when Farman made a great save to deny Norris whose follow-up effort was saved off the line by Paul Digby, before Farman made another fine block to foil Harriott as Stevenage somehow survived.

And another great chance went begging for the U’s five minutes later as Frank Nouble’s attempted lob hits Farman in the face, after Pell's pass had split the Stevenage defence.

Norris saw a curled effort from the edge of the area saved at full stretch by Farman while just before half-time, Stevenage had a lucky escape when an attempted clearance struck Ben Nugent, hit the top of the home crossbar and sailed off for a corner, as the U’s went in at the break level.

Colchester dominated possession in the second half and penned ten-man Stevenage deep into their own half.

They came close to making the breakthrough midway through the second half when Norris comes agonisingly close to connecting with Nouble's low cross in the six-yard box but the chance went begging.

McGreal sent on Kwame Poku and Theo Robinson in a bid to get a winner and Robinson almost scored soon after coming on when he failed to steer in Nouble's powerful cross.

Farman pushed away Pell's shot with 12 minutes to go, following Harriott's run and pass.

And Harriott squandered a great chance himself when he headed Nouble's deep cross wide unmarked at the far post.

Ben Stevenson's deflected effort was pushed away by Farman who also pulled off a superb late save to deny Ogedi-Uzokwe's downward header but the spoils were shared.