Colchester United's under-23 side recovered a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Derby County in the Premier League Cup tonight.

The U's battled back to claim a share of the spoils to maintain their unbeaten record and second place in Group C, at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Wayne Brown's side made the worst possible start when they fell behind in the third minute to Charles Vernam's close-range strike.

And the Rams had a great opportunity to double their lead midway through the first half when they were awarded a penalty, after Cameron James fouled Kellan Gordon in the box.

However, Colchester keeper Dillon Barnes made a fine save from the spot to deny Callum Guy's spot-kick.

Derby keeper Chris Weale denied Dion Sembie-Ferris but Colchester fell further behind nine minutes before the break when Vernam grabbed his second of the game, following a corner.

However, Colchester pulled a goal back four minutes later through Sembie-Ferris, who converted following a good build-up.

The U's went in at half-time trailing 2-1 but Sembie-Ferris went close again, before James levelled things up with the second half ten minutes old when he converted following Charley Edge's free-kick.

Louis Dunne fired over twice in quick succession after that and James headed over while at the other end, Vernam sliced wide as he went in search of a hat-trick as both sides pressed for a winner.

Weale foiled Sembie-Ferris and then made a vital save to deny Diaz Wright in the closing stages before substitute Decarrey Sheriff fired the rebound over, as the spoils were shared.

Colchester United: Barnes, Ocran, Wilson, Diaz Wright, Grandison (sub Keys, 86), James, Sembie-Ferris, Regis, Hoskins (sub Sheriff, 71), Edge, Dunne.

Substitutes (not used): Williams, McKeown, Anderson.