Brandon Comley's first-ever Colchester United goal helped his side secure a hard-earned 1-1 draw at promotion hopefuls Mansfield Town, this afternoon.

Comley's fine strike early in the second half cancelled out Kane Hemmings' opener for the Stags, following a keenly-contested contest at Field Mill.

Colchester head coach John McGreal rung the changes for his side’s game at Mansfield Town, in the aftermath of back-to-back defeats.

McGreal recalled Sammie Szmodics, Kurtis Guthrie, Brennan Dickenson, Tom Lapslie and Drey Wright to his starting line-up at Field Mill, with Ryan Inniss, Sean Murray, Courtney Senior, Mikael Mandron and Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe all dropping out.

It was Dickenson’s first senior start since the U’s 0-0 home draw with Plymouth Argyle on April 22, 2017.

Murray and Mandron were on the bench along with QPR loanee Olamide Shodipo and goalkeeper Dillon Barnes.

The contest started in open fashion and Colchester had a good opportunity to take a fourth-minute lead when Dickenson blazed a left-foot shot over the bar from a good position having advanced into the area, after Sammie Szmodics’ pass had sent him through.

Wright had a similar opportunity after 20 minutes but sliced a shot wide from a good position after some good approach play by Guthrie.

But Mansfield warmed to the task and took a 22nd-minute lead through Hemmings, who latched onto goalkeeper Conrad Logan’s long pass into the area and lofted a shot over U’s keeper Sam Walker and into the empty net, despite Tom Eastman’s attempts to keep it out on the goal-line.

It was almost 2-0, two minutes later when Danny Rose volleyed a shot straight at Walker at his near post after rushing into the area.

Mansfield pressed Colchester at every given opportunity, giving the U’s back line little time to think.

Alex MacDonald’s fine 25-yard free-kick flew just over the bar but Colchester finished the first half strongly and almost equalised when Wright beat Mal Benning to the ball in the area and unleashed a fine half volley that Logan palmed away.

And in first-half stoppage-time, Guthrie was sent through by Szmodics and beat Logan to the ball, only for charged-down effort to fall short with the ball was comfortably cleared.

Colchester took that momentum into the second half and were back on level terms, less than six minutes after the break.

Comley collected the ball on the right edge of the area and beat a defender before drilling a fine low shot past Logan and into the far post for his first-ever U's goal.

Mansfield boss David Flitcroft made a double substitution soon after, sending on Jacob Mellis and Will Atkinson in a bid to restore his side's lead.

But Colchester kept battling away, with McGreal's side looking just as likely to grab a winner as their high-flying hosts.

However, the U's received a let off when Mansfield substitute Paul Digby’s looping header was nodded onto his own crossbar and away by Kane Vincent-Young, with 20 minutes remaining.

The hosts continued to push for a winner, as the clock ticked down.

Rose fired into the side netting and then Walker palmed away Benning’s long-range drive, before pulling off another save to deny Mellis.

But despite six minutes of stoppage-time being added at the end, the spoils were shared.