Southampton manager Alan Pardew is still looking for his first league win having squandered a glaring opportunity against the 10 men of Colchester. Luckless Colchester had skipper Pat Baldwin taken off on a stretcher with a knee injury and playmaker Kemal Izzet dismissed for a rash challenge inside the opening half – but still managed to hold out for a hard-earned point.
A despondent Pardew said: "In the last two games, it is amazing we haven't got a win. We had so many chances today. We weren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we certainly created enough chances to win two games.
"We really haven't got that goal. I cannot fault the players – they gave me everything. We are still in the early days of building this team. We haven't quite got the pace to get in behind teams and at times we have to create the perfect chance or a set-piece to get that goal."
New Colchester manager Aidy Boothroyd cherished the point and came away from the south coast with the feeling of victory. The former Watford manager said: "That felt like a win to me today. To come to a place like this and to get a point; it was hard work, we had to fight and scrap for it. It was a sending-off. He [Izzet] is an exuberant lad but you can't do things like that." The hosts survived an early scare as the Colchester front pair almost got in behind the back four. Quick-heeled Kevin Lisbie raced in on goal following Clive Platt's flick only to be halted by an offside flag.
The Saints went on to dominate the first period and had two good opportunities to take the lead inside the opening 20 minutes. Big summer signing Richard Lambert nodded just wide of the far upright with 12 minutes on the clock.
Matthew Patterson then wheeled away in celebration five minutes later only to see Magnus Okuonghae scramble his effort off the line.
Lambert's expert header fell kindly for Patterson whose clipped shot beat out-rushing goalkeeper Ben Williams but he quickly turned to thank his centre-back for the clearance.
The game then took a nasty turn in a matter of 60 seconds. Southampton winger Jacob Mellis was booked for his lunge on Marc Tierney before Izzet saw red. It was a needless and dangerous scissor tackle by the playmaker on Adam Lallana, who was causing no danger out wide on the right wing.
Southampton returned from the break full of energy and vibrancy. But the optimism from the home fans quickly turned to frustration as Colchester's backline defiantly held on.
There were huge appeals for a Southampton penalty 20 minutes from time when the ball crashed against the arm of U's full-back Tierney inside the box, only for referee Graham Scott to wave it away.
Pardew's introduction of speed through Jake Thomson and trickery with Joseph Mills provided better options down the wing but Lambert's service simply dried up.
The tension continued to grow as the minutes ticked away with the Saints unable to penetrate Okuonghae and the Colchester rearguard.
Southampton substitute Morgan Schneiderlin had two crashing drives that almost snatched the three points.
His first, three minutes from time was just inches over the bar while his dipping volley just came down the wrong side of the upright with Williams well beaten. With the emotion reaching fever pitch – the winner just wouldn't go in for the home side in the dying seconds.
Lloyd James picked out Mills at the far post and his diving header trickled across the face of goal but Lambert couldn't get there to turn it home.