COLCHESTER United welcomed players back from injury as their under-23s lost 1-0 at Millwall this afternoon, writes BRIAN WALLER.

Paris Cowan-Hall has been sidelined with an Achilles injury and has not tasted U's first-team action since September.

But the former Millwall featured for around 50 minutes against his old club, as Colchester fielded a more experienced under-23 side against the Lions.

Ollie Kensdale, Cameron James, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwi, Diaz Wright, Michael Fernandes and Louis Dunne also featured for Richard Hall's side, at the Calmont Road training ground in Bromley.

Both teams struggled to keep control of the ball early on in blustery conditions, as Colchester's under-23s played their first competitive match for 22 days.

U's goalkeeper Callum Coulter saved George Alexander's free-kick early on.

Millwall then had another chance but Coulter then made a comfortable save from Reuben Duncan, who shot from a fair way out.

Just before the half hour mark, there were strong Colchester appeals for a penalty as Ogedi-Uzokwe was sent tumbling in the box but all appeals to the referee were in vain.

Soon after this, Millwall's Dan Moss was shown a yellow card before there was a lively minute or so with action at both ends of the field.

Duncan’s effort seemed to be crawling into the opposite corner of the net but Coulter did well to get down to make the save.

And at the other end, Fernandes looked to be getting a shot away until Rob Strachan prevented this with a superb tackle.

As Millwall threatened again, a testing ball in by left-back Junior Tiensia was in vain as nobody could get on the end of it.

And right on half-time, there was a major escape for Colchester as the ball hit the bar and then appeared to cross the line.

But no goal was given and the interval arrived with the score at 0-0.

The U’s missed a glorious chance two minutes after half-time as skipper Matt Weaire shot over the bar from about six yards out while Fernandes fired wide of the target, soon after.

The misses were to prove costly as just after the hour mark, Millwall scored what proved to be their winner just after the hour mark.

Isaac Olaofe's great run down the right saw him cut the ball back for Sam Skeffington who smacked the ball into the net, from inside the area.

In a dramatic minute, substitute Tariq Issa saw his shot parried away by home keeper Frank Fielding before the hosts were reduced to ten men after Harvey Bradbury was sent off for a foul on Ollie Sims.

Olaofe had a penalty appeal turned down for Millwall before Colchester went close again with seven minutes remaining when Issa's header was blocked by the legs of keeper Fielding.

Colchester pushed for a late goal but it was not forthcoming and they fell to a narrow loss.

U's under-23s: Coulter, James, Weaire, Kensdale, Sims, Wright, Fernandes, Anderson (sub Issa), Ogedi-Uzokwe (sub McLeod), Dunne, Cowan-Hall (sub Scarlett). Subs (not used): Allen, Collins.