Freddie Sears fired home an equaliser to earn Colchester United a 1-1 draw with Carlisle United, following an entertaining encounter at the Weston Homes Community Stadium tonight.

Colchester went into the game with the possibility of going top of League One and hoping to extend their unbeaten league run to four games.

But they made the worst possible start when they fell behind in the fourth minute to Matty Robson’s crisp low shot which flashed past Sam Walker and into the net.

Carlisle went into the game on the back of three successive defeats but it did not look that way, on the evidence of their impressive first-half display.

They were the better side in the opening stages and Lee Miller almost added to their lead when he missed a gilt-edged chance when he sent a free header wide.

Colchester eventually warmed to the task and Carlisle keeper Mark Gillespie denied skipper Brian Wilson and Jabo Ibehre, before Tosin Olufemi hit the bar with a fine shot.

Miller and the impressive Robson both came close for the Cumbrians before the break as did Ibehre for Colchester, who started the second half well.

Sanchez Watt forced Gillespie to make a fine save and Craig Eastmond’s deflected strike was not far away.

But Carlisle still threatened on the break, with Walker saving from Miller and Liam Noble having a close-range effort ruled out for offside.

But Colchester finally got back on level terms with 19 minutes to go when Sears blasted home inside the area from Gavin Massey’s lay-off, after some clever play by Watt.

Gillespie palmed over substitute Alex Gilbey’s header in the closing stages as Colchester pressed hard for a winner but Joe Dunne’s side had to settle for a draw.

For a full match report, pictures and reaction to Colchester’s game against Carlisle, see Monday’s Gazette.