Matt Bloomfield’s side left it late to snatch a point against Barrow after a feisty affair at the JobServe Community Stadium.
Kwesi Appiah struck six minutes into stoppage time to give the U’s a deserved draw against the Bluebirds, after Ben Whitfield had given the visitors the advantage just after half time.
The U’s remain seventeenth after picking up a point, now with thirty-one points from thirty matches.
For the first time this season, Matt Bloomfield named an unchanged starting eleven for his Colchester United side to face Barrow at the JobServe Community Stadium.
The only changes from last weekend’s win over Hartlepool United were amongst the substitutes, with Tom Smith in for the injured Sam Hornby, and Kwesi Appiah returning from the sidelines to replaced youngster, Jayden Fevrier.
Using the 3-5-2 system that brought them joy on the road last weekend, Luke Chambers skippered the squad on his 779th EFL appearance – moving him into the top ten for the Football League. He was flanked by Fiacre Kelleher and Connor Hall, with Kieran O’Hara between the sticks.
Just ahead of the defence was Cole Skuse and Arthur Read, with Junior Tchamadeu and Connor Wood operating as wing-backs; Noah Chilvers lined up just in front of the holding midfielders. Tom Hopper and Samson Tovide lead the line for Matt Bloomfield’s side.
After a heavy defeat to their Cumbrian rivals in the week, Barrow were looking to get out of the traps early on against the U’s, and nearly had the opening goal within two minutes.
Putting the home defence under pressure early, a cross from the right flank landed on Niall Canavan’s head, for the Bluebirds’ captain to divert against the woodwork from ten yards.
The pressure soon subsided with Matt Bloomfield’s side able to get a foothold in the game, and it was proving to be a tight contest at both ends of the pitch.
Samson Tovide was a handful for the centre –half pairing of Canavan and McClelland in an enthralling 50/50 that would run the duration of the first half.
Half chances came and went for the U’s before the first proper sight of goal for the hosts. Cole Skuse spotted the advancing Connor Wood at left wing, with the Leyton Orient loanee able to deliver a pin-point cross to the head of Tom Hopper.
Most of the JobServe Community Stadium thought Hopper had given the U’s the lead with what would have been a home debut goal, but the inside of the post denied him, meaning the two teams would head to the break level.
Neither side made a change at half time, as the U’s came out strongly in the opening exchanges. Tovide was still battling away with the visiting defenders, and quickly got the better of Rory Feely as the Barrow man was shown the first yellow card of the game.
But despite the strong start to the half, Colchester found themselves behind after ten minutes of play. A cross from the right flank wasn’t dealt with, as Ben Whitfield snuck in at the back post to convert.
It prompted the first change of the afternoon as Samson Tovide was replaced by John Akinde on the hour mark.
And Akinde had the best chance of the game to get the U’s back on level terms. Tchamadeu slid through an accurate pass for the substitute to chase, before he was felled by the Barrow goalkeeper; a penalty for the U’s.
But John couldn’t convert as Farman got down well to deny him from twelve yards, allowing for further personnel changes to both sides.
Matt Jay and Ossama Ashley were brought on as reinforcements with twenty minutes to play, calling time on Noah Chilvers and Cole Skuse’s afternoons. And Barrow made their first change with the booked Feely replaced by Tyrell Warren.
Ashley was quickly involved in the action, drawing a foul from Garner, with the referee issuing another booking to the visitors. And the midfielder was then himself booked after a scuffle with Sam Foley as the game threatened to boil over.
A further booking followed for Tom Hopper after a trip in his own half on a Barrow man. And Hopper could have had a say in the game’s outcome when he was played clean through with twelve minutes to play, but he slid the effort wide of the mark.
Matt Bloomfield opted for further changes with Hopper and Wood replaced with ten minutes to play – Kwesi Appiah and Alex Newby were introduced to help the U’s get something from the game.
Eight minutes of stoppage time were indicated, as the U’s clawed their way back into the game in exciting fashion. Appiah, back from injury, was back in the goals after stabbing home from close range to the delight of U’s fans.
The win proved to be just out of sight for Matt Bloomfield’s team, but it was a point gained after trailing in the second half.
Colchester United remain seventeenth after Kwesi Appiah’s late heroics with thirty-one points from thirty games, with a trip to sixteenth placed Grimsby Town up next.
Colchester United starting XI: O’Hara, Chambers, Skuse (Ashley 69’), Chilvers (Jay 69’), Kelleher, Read, Tchamadeu, Wood (Newby 79’), Hopper (Appiah 78’), Hall, Tovide (Akinde 59’).
Subs: Smith, Greenidge, Appiah, Ashley, Newby, Jay, Akinde.
Barrow starting XI: Farman, Brough, McClelland, Canavan, Newby, Waters, Neal, Foley (White 76’), Garner (Young 76’), Feely (Warren 69’), Whitfield (Kay 81’).
Subs: Lillis, Kay, White, Gotts, Warren, Young.