For the second consecutive weekend Chesterfield lost points after surrendering a two-goal lead.
However, this game differed from the Wigan defeat as the home side played the vast majority of the match a man down after Drew Talbot was controversially red carded.
From then on United carved out significantly more chances from their two-thirds of possession but somehow Chesterfield resisted and led 3-1, only to see the visitors claw their way back in and, in the third minute of stoppage time, level matters when the impressive Callum Harriott drilled the ball into the danger area only for it to ricochet off the chest of Charlie Raglan for an own goal.
Talbot, back in the side after an ankle injury, tangled with Colchester debutant Marvin Sordell 25 yards out after Harriott’s through ball. The striker went down and referee Williamson brandished the red card after just 15 minutes.
Cue the protests, not particularly against the foul, but keeper Tommy Lee claimed he could have reached the loose ball first whilst Ian Evatt protested with the linesman that Sordell had been offside, a claim that seems to be backed up by video evidence, but it was a close call.
The loss saw 17-year-old Jack Fitzwater, on loan from West Brom, replace Gboly Ariyibi for his League debut at right back and he was soon in the action, fouled between box and touchline; Dan Jones stepped up to curl the dead ball into the danger area and his delivery was so good it eluded everybody to end up in the net for his first Spireites league goal. United levelled when Gavin Massey side-footed Harriott’s cross home from ten yards and the assistor was twice denied himself before the break, Raglan making a terrific block whilst the inside of the post came to Spireites’ rescue just before half-time.
Colchester were quick out of the blocks, Alex Gilbey hit wood from range and Sordell missed a sitter as Chesterfield repelled attacks galore but just after the hour mark Dean Saunders’ men broke free to restore the lead. Jay O’Shea’s trickery and a Dan Gardner dink into the centre set up Lee Novak to stab home his first for the club.
Lee, who when the game was goalless made a stunning save to palm away a Gilbey shot, then pulled out an even better one to drop his left hand down to ground level to stop a downward Sordell header, a save that enabled Chesterfield to make it 3-1 soon after when Sam Morsy swept in Ollie Banks’ cross from the by-line to give the hosts an unexpected two goal cushion.
George Moncur, who had come on as a first half tactical sub to boss midfield, quickly pulled a goal back, inevitably from a Harriott pass but Spireites had two great chances to wrap up the game. Morsy was blocked as he set up a shot and the skipper then fed sub Byron Harrison but he lost his one on one duel with the keeper.
That failure to kill off the game led to the late leveller, another moment that frustrated the home contingent who felt Moncur was offside in the build-up.
His first shot was smothered but came back out to him and he hammered an effort off the bar, Harriott mopped up the loose ball and drove it into the six only for Raglan, doing his utmost to defend his lines, to inadvertently chest in.
A frustrated and angry Saunders said: “It was a strange game and between them, the referee and linesmen have killed us.
“They didn’t give us anything all day. We scored three great goals but we’ve not managed to hang on from 3-1 up but when Drew walked off the pitch I would have probably taken a point.”
Late on Dion Donohue was given his League debut after joining the club from Sutton Coldfield Town whilst the manager hopes Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Sam Hird and Liam O’Neil will all be fit for the trip to Coventry City next week along with Chris Herd who was signed just too late to play against Colchester.
Chesterfield: Lee 8, Talbot, Raglan 6, Evatt 7, Jones 7, Morsy 7, Banks 6, Gardner 6 (Donohue 87), O’Shea 6, Ariyibi (Fitzwater 19, 6), Novak 7 (Harrison 83). Subs (not used): Cairns, Gnanduillet, Humphreys, Dieseruvwe.
Goal: Jones 22, Novak 62, Morsy 74
Colchester: Jones 6, Vincent-Young 6, Eastman 7, Elokobi 7, Briggs 6 (Bonne 88); Gilbey 7, Edwards 6 (Moncur 28, 7), Garvan 7; Massey 6, Harriott 9, Sordell 6. Subs (not used): Parish, Kent, Szmodics, Brindley, Ambrose.
Goals: Massey 29, Moncur 76, Raglan og 90+3
Ref: Iain Williamson (Berkshire)
Sent Off: Talbot
Booked: Jones, Banks (Chesterfield)
Attendance: 5227 (134 from Colchester)