Joe Keith salvaged a deserved point for Colchester with a 69th minute equaliser from the spot against promotion chasing Tranmere Rovers in a four-goal thriller at Layer Road.
Adrian Coote, handed his first start since last August capped a good individual display by winning the penalty.
Coote was brought crashing to the ground by Manchester City loanee defender Tyrone Loran and referee Lee Cable pointed to the spot.
Keith hit the penalty poorly, but it deceived keeper John Achterberg to earn Colchester a precious point.
However, Colchester need to transform some of these home draws into wins if they are to steer clear of trouble this season.
They dominated the first half hour against Rovers but only scored once. They took the lead in the 12th minute when Keith's corner was headed goalwards by Kem Izzet and Scott McGleish reacted first to prod home from point-blank range.
It was a vital touch from McGleish, who managed to divert Izzet's header away from Achterberg for his fourth goal of the season.
Yet Tranmere, who had won their previous three away games were on level terms before the break .
Striker Simon Haworth turned to fire home impressively into the far corner of the net to rattle up his 14th goal of the season.
It was an even second half with both teams impressing as an attacking force.
Rovers grabbed the lead on the hour mark thanks to an excellent free-kick from Micky Mellon.
Izzet conceded the free-kick fro a foul on Gary Jones, and the U's were made to pay as Mellon curled the set-piece over the defensive wall and into the far corner of the net.
It would have been rough justice on Colchester to have lost this game and Keith saved the day with his fifth goal of the season.