COLCHESTER United are still waiting for a first league victory of the season after seeing their early lead overturned and losing 2-1 at home to Cambridge.

After a draw and then a defeat in their opening two matches, the U’s were looking to build on Tuesday’s excellent 3-0 Carabao Cup victory against Swindon Town.

They got off to an ideal start, taking a ninth-minute lead from a confident penalty by Luke Norris.

But they failed to add a second – despite dominating the first half – and that proved pivotal.

Cambridge were on level terms ten minutes into the second half, thanks to a headed leveller from Marc Richards.

And their winner came four minutes from time, when Dean Gerken was unable to keep out an acrobatic effort from substitute Harry Darling.

It was a cruel blow for Colchester, who had looked impressive before that late sucker-punch.

Boss John McGreal made three changes to the side that beat Swindon on Tuesday.

Two were enforced, with Cohen Bramall suspended and Tom Lapslie ruled out with a thigh problem suffered against the Robins.

In came 20-year-old Ryan Clampin, for his full debut, and Brandon Comley, while Courtney Senior, the two-goal hero in midweek, started in place of Luke Gambin.

There was a spot on the bench for young Kwame Poku, who impressed on trial late last season after previously playing for non-league Worthing.

Colchester started in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Comley and Ben Stevenson screening the back four of Ryan Jackson, Tom Eastman, Luke Prosser and Clampin.

Ahead of them, Senior, Norris and Jevani Brown, playing his former side, were behind targetman Frank Nouble.

McGreal’s men were impressive in the first half and most definitely deserved their interval lead.

They didn’t exactly carve out chance after chance but they had more possession and their attacking players were a menace from the start.

It was no surprise, therefore, that they nosed in front as early as the ninth minute.

With the U’s on the front foot, Paul Lewis was adjudged to have fouled Stevenson.

Referee Anthony Coggins had no hesitation pointing to the spot – having just waved away similar appeals from Senior – and Norris blasted his effort inside the left-hand post, beyond the diving Dimitar Mitov.

Colchester pushed for a second, getting forward in numbers and forcing errors from the visitors, and went close when the impressive Clampin pushed forward and won a corner off Leon Davies.

However, Brown’s accurate delivery was headed against the bar by Prosser.

The only scare of an entertaining half came when Andy Dallas got the better of Prosser – but saw his drive turned behind by Gerken.

Just as Colchester had made a dream start to the first half, Cambridge did the same in the second and their equaliser came in the 55th minute.

Davies delivered a peach of a cross from the right and Richards, lurking at the far post, rose highest to send an unstoppable headed equaliser beyond Gerken.

Both sides huffed and puffed without dominating during the remainder of the second half, but there was time for one last twist following Cambridge’s winner.

Darling produced an acrobatic effort, getting on the end of Lewis’ header across goal, and the ball somehow squirmed under a despairing Gerken.