LUKE Norris came off the bench to score a late equaliser and rescue a point for Colchester United after they played out a 1-1 draw at Mansfield Town tonight.

Norris converted with five minutes to go to cancel out Nicky Maynard’s earlier second-half strike as the spoils were shared, following an entertaining affair at the One Call Stadium.

A draw was probably about right, after both sides played their part in an absorbing contest.

Colchester made one change to their starting line-up for their game against Nigel Clough’s Mansfield, who went into the contest on the back of a five-match unbeaten run.

Ben Stevenson was recalled to the side after a groin injury in place of Michael Folivi, who dropped to the bench.

Callum Harriott also returned from a hamstring injury and was among the substitutes.

Colchester enjoyed plenty of possession in the first half, in the U’s first Friday night fixture for nearly three years.

There was plenty of tempo to their performance in the opening 45 minutes, often forcing their hosts to go on their retreat and defend in numbers.

Mansfield also enjoyed their fair share of the ball in what was an even first half and there was little to choose between the sides, before half-time.

Colchester’s best chance in the first period fell to Noah Chilvers, on the half hour mark.

The midfielder found himself unmarked after being picked out by skipper Harry Pell’s excellent ball into the six-yard box but could only direct a tame header straight at goalkeeper Marek Stech.

Colchester largely contained the hosts’ threat, although Mansfield almost grabbed the lead just before the interval when captain Ollie Clarke's fierce 20-yard effort was parried away well by keeper Dean Gerken, after some good build-up play.

The first half finished goal-less but Mansfield went close in the opening minutes of the second half when Mal Benning's low shot from the edge of the area flew straight at Gerken.

Harry Charsley’s snatched shot flew wide for the Stags soon after and Gerken saved Stephen McLaughlin’s low shot as the hosts looked to gain some momentum.

And Colchester fell behind in the 67th minute when Nicky Maynard let fly with a 20-yard left-foot shot that flew past Gerken and in off the underside of the crossbar, leaving the U’s keeper with his head in his hands.

Colchester made changes, bringing on Folivi, Josh Bohui and Luke Norris to add to the earlier introduction of Harriott.

And they almost equalised with nine minutes remaining when Folivi’s downward header from Bohui’s deep cross nicked off Kellan Gordon and brushed a post before going wide.

Colchester did level things up, four minutes later though.

After a hopeful ball forward, Norris spotted keeper Marek Stech rushing out of his goal and expertly lifted the ball past him and into the net from a difficult angle, to salvage a point for the U’s.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken, Welch-Hayes (sub Norris, 80), Smith, Eastman, Bramall, Chilvers, Pell, Senior (sub Bohui, 70), Stevenson (sub Folivi, 70), Poku (sub Harriott, 61), Brown.

Subs (not used): Sowunmi, Scarlett, George.

U’s man of the match: Noah Chilvers.

Mansfield Town: Stech, Gordon, Rawson, Perch, Benning, Charsley, Clarke (sub O’Keeffe, 84), Lapslie, McLaughlin, Maynard, Bowery.

Subs (not used): Sweeney, Cook, O’Driscoll, Reid, Sinclair, Stone.

Referee: Benjamin Speedie (Merseyside).

Goals: Colchester: Norris (85). Mansfield: Maynard (67).

Bookings: Mansfield: Clarke (foul, 62), Rawson (foul, 87).