COLCHESTER United had to make do with a point after they were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Crawley Town tonight.

The U’s remain unbeaten at the JobServe Community Stadium in League Two this season but will be disappointed not to have claimed a fifth straight home league win, after the spoils were shared.

But Crawley were probably worthy of a point, with U’s keeper Dean Gerken in superb form and making several good saves, including brilliant stops in stoppage-time to deny substitutes Sam Matthews and Tyler Frost.

Colchester boss Steve Ball made two changes to his starting line-up, seven days after his side’s 6-1 loss at Exeter City.

Skipper Harry Pell was ruled out with a knee injury sustained in training while defender Tommy Smith also missed out, as he is now having to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who had tested positive for Covid-19.

Tom Lapslie was among the substitutes as was youngster Billy Cracknell.

Tom Eastman captained the U’s, in the absence of Pell and Smith.

Colchester were looking for a response following their heavy defeat at Exeter.

And although David Sesay tried his luck with a low shot from the edge of the area that keeper Gerken easily saved in the opening minutes, the U’s looked bright early on.

Colchester went ahead in the 13th minute – and in some style.

After being picked out by Miles Welch-Hayes around 30 yards out, Harriott let fly with a magnificent effort that flew past Crawley keeper Glenn Morris.

It was another fine goal to add to the winger’s personal collection of super strikes – but the U’s joy did not last long.

They were given a warning when Nick Tsaroulla's fine effort from the edge of the area was touched away superbly by Gerken for a corner.

Gerken then made another excellent save to push away Tom Nichols’ fine effort at full stretch but from the resultant corner, Crawley duly drew level.

Jordan Tunnicliffe slammed the ball home from close range from Tom Dallison's downward header for a 20th-minute equaliser, after the U’s had failed to clear a corner.

Crawley continued to look menacing after that and had a good opportunity to take the lead seven minutes before half-time when Tony Craig controlled in the area before ballooning a shot over the bar.

The sides went in level at the break and the second half remained an even affair.

But Colchester almost went ahead just before the hour mark when a nice piece of skill by Kwame Poku saw him advance into the area before trying his luck with a shot that was pushed over by Morris for a corner.

And Morris was in action again soon after, diving low to brilliantly keep out Harriott’s excellent snap shot.

Crawley almost went ahead when Nadesan's powerful shot was brilliantly saved by Gerken after Watters’ pass had breached the U’s defence, midway through the second half.

Colchester sent on Tom Lapslie late on for his first appearance of the season, following his return from injury.

But Gerken made brilliant saves from Matthews and Frost late on and Dallison lifted a shot over from close range deep into stoppage-time for the visitors, as the points were shared.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken, Welch-Hayes, Sowunmi, Eastman, Bramall, Chilvers, Stevenson (sub Lapslie, 81), Senior, Poku (sub Folivi, 69), Harriott, Brown (sub Norris, 74).

Subs (not used): Miranda, Cracknell, Gambin, George.

U’s man of the match: Dean Gerken.

Crawley Town: Morris, Dallison, Powell, Nadesan, Nichols (sub Frost, 68), Sesay, Tunnicliffe, Craig, Hessenthaler, Watters (sub Ashford, 87), Tsaroulla (sub Matthews, 67).

Subs (not used): McNerney, German, Galach, Nelson.

Referee: Brett Huxtable.

Goals: Colchester: Harriott (13). Crawley: Tunnicliffe (20).

Bookings: Colchester: Stevenson (foul, 44), Norris (foul, 86), Welch-Hayes (foul, 88). Crawley: Craig (foul, 42).