Ten-man Chesterfield came back to earn a draw when sub Lee Novak scored his 11th goal of the season from the penalty spot.
He’d been fouled by ex-Spireite Richard Brindley allowing the visitors to peg the scoreline back three minutes after sub Drey Wright teed up Macauley Bonne on 69.
From the 18th minute Chesterfield hadplayed with ten men after skipper Gary Liddle was red carded.
Danny Wilson made three changes for Spireites first match this season as a bottom four side. Liam O’Neil’s absence (concussion) was enforced; Rai Simons and Chris Herd were benched.
In came Mani Dieseruvwe and Ollie Banks whilst the manager gave a debut to Chesterfield-born ex-Blade Conor Dimaio in a 4-1-4-1 formation. First choice strikers Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Novak, were both on the bench, not being risked from the start. Novak appeared at the break for Jay O’Shea and Ebanks-Blake was introduced just before the hour mark at a time Chesterfield were dominating.
Neither Jordan Slew, who has been offered a short-term deal and Cardiff City’s ex-Barnsley loan defender Declan John, 20, who tweeted earlier in the day he’d signed on loan, were involved, but both could be available for Saturday.
Bottom side Colchester went into the game without a win in 15 and without a clean sheet in 20. A quiet opening 15 minutes with neither side willing to take risks was followed by Liddle showing his studs in a challenge on Kane Vincent-Young.
From then on to the break predictably Colchester saw most of the ball but the visitors generally restricted them to long range efforts, only a weak effort just before the interval from Porter was from a position that should have worried Tommy Lee, who’d saved 20 yarders from Elliott Lee and Owen Garvan.
Ex-Spireite Porter did convert after a sustained period of United pressure but he was clearly offside from Darren Ambrose’s ball in to the danger zone.
Chesterfield didn’t manage an effort on target in the first half but after Novak came on in an advanced position alongside Dieseruvwe, he soon delivered a ball in that forced keeper Elliott Parish into his first action, catching under pressure from Dieseruvwe.
Dimaio hit high from 25 yards, Novak fired inches wide and then earned the game’s first corner on 55 as Chesterfield looked significantly more positive despite their short-handedness in the early exchanges of the second half.
Ebanks-Blake matched Porter by converting from an offside position shortly after the hour mark as the game really opened up with both sides playing with more confidence and vitality and sub Wright created the opening, crossing in for Bonne to slide home from 12 yards.
The lead lasted just three minutes; Brindley fouled Novak and the sub fired home the penalty and straight after Banks saw an opportunity blocked and Ebanks-Blake saw the keeper’s outstretched foot denied him.
Both sides pushed hard for a winner but were unable to find a way through, the draw suiting Chesterfield more than their hosts.
Colchester: Parish, Vincent-Young, Elokobi, Eastman, Brindley, Edwards (Massey 89) , Garvan, Ambrose (Wright 61), Lee (Moncur 61), Bonne, Porter. Subs (not used): Barnes, Kent, Lapslie, Shorey.Goal: Bonne 69
Chesterfield: Lee, Talbot, Hird, Anderson, Donohue, Liddle, Ariyibi, Dimaio (Herd 83), Banks, O’Shea (Novak HT), Dieseruvwe (Ebanks-Blake 58). Subs (not used): Chapman, Gardner, Maguire, Simons. Goal: Novak (pen) 72
Booked: Ariyibi, Banks (Chfld), Porter (Colch.) Sent-Off: Liddle (Chesterfield)