IT was dubbed the goal that never was.

It happened more than nine years ago but the controversial incident that occurred in Colchester United's game at Charlton Athletic will still be clear in the minds for many U's fans who were at the Valley back on February 2, 2011.

With the League One game goal-less at the time, Colchester thought they had taken a 64th-minute lead through Steven Gillespie.

Gillespie slotted home from 12 yards after David Mooney had dummied Matt Heath's pass, midway through the second half.

But the U's were left furious after referee Darren Sheldrake bizarrely disallowed Gillespie's effort.

Much to the U's horror, Sheldrake inexplicably ruled out the effort for an infringement.

The Surrey-based official then allowed the goal to stand, following a discussion with his assistant John Busby, who had not raised his flag.

But just before the game was due to re-start, an intervention by the fourth official Elliott Kaye resulted in Sheldrake disallowing the goal again and awarding a drop ball on the edge of the hosts' area.

It took more than four minutes for the officials to eventually come to the conclusion that Gillespie's effort should not stand.

To rub salt into the U's wounds, Bradley Wright-Phillips then went on to net Charlton's winner, with 12 minutes to go.

It was a moment that left Colchester seething, including their normally mild-mannered boss John Ward.

Ward said: “I have been doing this as a player, manager, coach and a supporter for 40 years and I've never seen that situation happen before.

“The referee made a major mistake in the game and I think he knows that he did.

“Prior to Steven (Gillespie) putting the ball into the net, the referee anticipated a flag from his linesman and blew his whistle.

“Steven put the ball in the back of the net and it all went off again, as you can imagine.

“In the end the referee got the decision right, because he blew the whistle before the ball went into the net.

“He had no reason to blow the whistle in the first place, because there was nothing incorrect with Steven Gillespie's position.

“He was not offside and I don't believe Charlton stopped playing.

“I believe the fourth official then got up off his chair and told the referee that he got it wrong, after he had given the goal after chatting to his linesman.”

It was particularly cruel on 'goalscorer' Gillespie, who saw his effort ruled out.

“The referee was apologetic immediately afterwards," Gillespie told the Gazette.

“He openly said to me at the time that he’d made a massive mistake but it cost us.

“It was devastating, because it took away what would have been a great three points, which would have taken us up to seventh and back in contention.

“If Charlton go up or get into the play-offs at the end of the season because of that result, it will affect other teams, too.”

But Charlton manager Chris Powell felt referee Sheldrake made the right decision to disallow the effort.

"In some ways you have to applaud them as they all got together and discussed what they thought," Powell told Kent Online.

"I haven’t seen anything like that before in all my years, but he made the right decision as he had blown his whistle.

"Football is a game of emotions. We all get excited and upset. Obviously, I am very happy it's no goal as Scott Wagstaff delivered a good ball in and Bradley finished it with aplomb."