Colchester United and Chesterfield drew 1-1 on Tuesday night, with Brandon Hanlan scoring on his debut and earning the U's a point in a bright performance.
It was the Spireites who broke the deadlock moments before the end of the first half, with Louis Reed beating Sam Walker from 25 yards. The U's however fought back strongly and their efforts were rewarded when substitute Hanlon beat Tommy Lee with a precise header.
The U’s had the better of the chances in the first half, with Sammie Szmodics and Nicke Kabamba both having good effort saved by Lee.
Chesterfield took the lead against the run of play just before the interval, when Louis Reed’s speculative long-range effort beat Sam Walker and nestled in the far corner.
The U’s started the second half brightly and should have been level through Kabamba, who met Mikael Mandron’s flick on with a powerful shot that just went the wrong side of the post.
Kane Vincent-Young fancied his chances from 30 yards and will consider himself unlucky not to be on the scoresheet, with his incredible strike crashing against the crossbar and bouncing out rather than in.
With half an hour left Chesterfield began to park the bus and almost caught the U’s on the counter attack, but Tom Eastman got across to cover and make an excellent challenge on the advancing Kristian Dennis.
The U’s pressure was finally rewarded when substitute Hanlon got his head onto the end of Drey Wright’s knock on and beat the resilient Lee in the Chesterfield net.
The U’s pressure didn’t stop there and Wright was millimetres away from bagging the game-winning goal in stoppage time, but his effort again hit the woodwork, the second time the U’s had done so in the game.
Ryan Innis also had a late chance, but his header was straight down the throat of Lee.
This point takes the U’s to 16th in the table, just four points off the playoffs.
John McGreal’s side will look to build on their two recent strong home performances away to Cheltenham Town on Saturday.