Colchester United were well worth this draw at Highfield Road, and few would have argued if they had caused an FA Cup fourth-round upset against First Division Coventry City. Two goals in five first-half minutes set up the rematch in a tie which showed no gulf in class between the two sides.
Phil Parkinson, the Colchester manager whose side had enjoyed cup success in midweek when they booked a place in the southern-section final of the LDV Vans Trophy, was delighted with the result, and he believes the replay at Layer Road is a game the Essex club can win.
"Home teams have always got a slight edge," said the rookie man-ager. "Being at home is an advantage. We know that the replay is going to be a very difficult game for us, but if the lads produce the performance they did today then we've got a chance. The club hasn't had a cup run for some time, so we're hoping that this is the beginning of a run and not the end of one."
It was two Coventry strikers who scored the goals, one mere misfortune, the other auspicious. Dele Adebola was the unfortunate party as he steered Karl Duguid's inswinging free-kick into his own net to hand Colchester the lead, before his forward partner, Julian Joachim, levelled matters by scoring at the right end for the Sky Blues three minutes later. Joachim had run through following Adebola's flick-on and, as he came under challenge from the on-loan Arsenal defender Liam Chilvers, the ball somehow looped over the onrushing goalkeeper, Richard McKinney.
Shots on goal were rare in the first half. Colchester's Wayne Andrews hit a low drive wide and Craig Fagan, on loan from Birmingham City, saw a deflected effort from distance drop into the arms of Gavin Ward in goal. Andrews had another long-range effort tipped over by Ward.
Eric Black, the new Coventry manager, declared: "It was as poor a start as we've had at Highfield Road. We've got a hard task ahead but we're still in the hat and we've given ourselves a chance down at Colchester, where we can hopefully perform better and look to progress."
Four minutes into the second period, Black's men cleared a corner and Gary McSheffrey raced into the Colchester half with Andy Morrell for company and only Chilvers between them and goal. But McSheffrey first delayed his pass, then overhit it. The annoyed Morrell was left to ponder what might have been.
Fifteen minutes later, Duguid went on a long run of his own, but fired woefully over the crossbar with Scott McGleish running clean through. McGleish, a hat-trick hero in the LDV success at Northampton, had been silent throughout, but he almost produced the goods when he hit the post midway through the second half from Andrews' scrambled cross.
The 1-1 scoreline will suit Parkinson more than his opposite number - Colchester came through a replay with Accrington Stanley in the third round.
Coventry City 1
Colchester United 1
Adebola og 30
Half-time: 1-1 Attendance: 15,341