Colchester United ended the season on a winning note with a 1-0 win at Walsall, as U’s legend Karl Duguid made his final appearance for the club.
Craig Eastmond’s fortunate goal early in the second half proved the difference between the two sides at the Banks’s Stadium, as Joe Dunne’s side officially confirmed their place in the division for another season.
Clinton Morrison, who was Colchester’s captain on his final appearance for the club, saw his weak shot flew straight at goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell early on while at the other end, U’s goalkeeper Sam Walker pushed away James Baxendale’s curling shot for a corner.
The closest Colchester came to taking the lead in the first half was after 17 minutes when O’Donnell pushed away Gavin Massey’s curling shot, following some neat footwork by Marcus Bean.
Walker fumbled Sam Mantom’s fierce 25-yard shot before he eventually gathered the ball, in what was a largely uneventful first half which proved to be typical end-of-season fare.
Colchester made a double substitution at half-time, with Frankie Kent handed his senior debut and Drey Wright also introduced in place of Magnus Okuonghae and Marcus Bean.
And the U’s took the lead seven minutes into the second half when Eastmond blocked James Chambers’ attempted clearance and the ball sailed past O’Donnell and into the net.
Duguid came on for Dominic Vose with 18 minutes to go to a rapturous reception from the travelling fans, for his final-ever playing appearance for the U’s.
Walker made a good stop to deny Walsall skipper Andy Butler and Morrison saved substitute Amadou Bakayoko’s effort off the line in the final few minutes, as Colchester ended the season on a high. For five pages of coverage of the U’s game at Walsall, see Monday’s Daily Gazette.