Freddie Sears' late penalty helped Colchester United secure their seventh draw in eight matches this afternoon.

Sears struck late on to score his first senior goal for more than a year and rescue the U's a point, after they played out a 1-1 draw with Hartlepool United.

Colchester fell behind in the 17th minute when Antony Sweeney headed in from close range from Evan Horwood's cross.

Ryan Noble came close to doubling Pools' lead soon after when he narrowly failed to connect with Gary Liddle's dangerous cross and it took the U's until late in the first half to look threatening.

Michael Rose forced Hartlepool goalkeeper Scott Flinders to make his first save of the game from a free-kick, just before half-time.

Freddie Sears also went close shortly before the break, when U's manager John Ward made a double substitution by sending on Martin Rowlands and Kayode Odejayi for Ian Henderson and Steven Gillespie.

Anthony Wordsworth hacked Liddle's goalbound effort away from near his own goal-line early in the second half, before testing Flinders with a first-time effort soon after.

Colchester got back on level terms with nine minutes to go through Sears, who scored from the penalty spot after substitute Gavin Massey was tripped by Paul Murray in the area.

But despite pushing for a winner, the U's were unable to secure a win.

For a full match report, pictures and reaction to Colchester's game with Hartlepool, see Monday's Gazette.