They mkade hard work of it, but Sheffield United reached the sixth round of the FA Cup for the second consecutive season and, more importantly for a club with Premiership pretensions, ended a sequence of three straight defeats.
Colchester never looked like repeating that famous victory over another United from Yorkshire - Leeds - 33 years ago, but that was at Layer Road. Their ambitions yesterday were no higher than taking the Blades back there and but for a second-half goal by Paul Peschisolido, by some distance the best player on the pitch, they would have succeeded.
They left Wayne Andrews to operate alone up front and swamped a Blades midfield from which the influential Michael Tonge was absent due to injury.
Consequently Sheffield struggled to make chances and squandered those they did. They should have taken the lead after 13 minutes when Liam Chilvers' error allowed Peschisolido to find Wayne Allison unmarked seven yards out, but with only the goalkeeper, Simon Brown, to beat he scuffed his shot wide.
The striker was probably as relieved as Colchester's 3,200 travelling fans when Dries Boussatta did exactly the same 10 minutes later after the industrious Peschisolido set him up. "We missed about eight sitters,'' Neil Warnock, the Blades manager, said. "My five-year-old daughter could have scored three of them.''
Colchester rode their luck, soaked up the pressure and played the ball neatly along the ground on the break. As their confidence grew, their horizons widened. Sam Stockley shot into the side netting from 25 yards, the captain Karl Duguid's precisely struck free-kick forced Paddy Kenny to palm the ball away at the foot of a post, and from the resulting corner Alan White headed narrowly over.
Warnock's half-time pep talk had the desired effect. Boussatta's shot on the turn drifted just wide and Peschisolido's goalbound effort was deflected for a corner before the Canadian finally achieved what he had threatened. Rowan Vine fouled Boussatta and from Alan Wright's free-kick Peschisolido placed a solid header inside the near post from the edge of the six-yard box.
"Paul is a quality goalscorer and you can't switch off for a minute when he is around,'' the Colchester manager, Phil Parkinson, said.
The Blades had just escaped a scare of their own, when Wright gave the ball away to Duguid, who released Vine, but the striker whose hat-trick put paid to Coventry in the previous round, shot straight at Kenny's legs and the Second Division side's last chance of another upset had gone. Brown twice kept their hopes alive with point-blank stops from Peter Ndlovu, but Peschisolido's goal proved to be enough.
Goal: Peschisolido (57) 1-0.
Sheffield United (4-4-2): Kenny; Jagielka, Whitlow, Page, Wright; Ndlovu (Parkinson, 80), McCall, Montgomery, Boussatta (Rankine, 71); Peschisolido, Allison. Substitutes not used: Fettis (gk), Kozluk, Forte.
Colchester (4-5-1): Brown; Stockley, Chilvers, White, Tierney (McGleish, 70); Duguid, Pinault, Izzet, Keith, Vine; Andrews. Substitutes not used: Johnson, Bowry, Halford, McKinney (gk).
Referee: D Pugh (Merseyside).
Bookings: Sheffield: Ndlovu. Colchester: Tierney, White, Duguid.
Man of the Match: Peschisolido.
Attendance: 17,074.Reuse content