Colchester United 1 Carlisle United 1: Kristian Dennis' header was enough to earn Carlisle United a point in their first away game of the campaign.

The striker nodded home his second of the season shortly before half-time at Colchester.

That wiped out Noah Chilvers' opener for the home side.

Neither side could make the most of further spells of pressure and good chances.

It means the Blues - who gave second-half debuts to new signings Jack Stretton and Jayden Harris - start the season with four points from their first two games.

Chilvers shot Colchester ahead from the edge of the box on 19 minutes before Dennis met an Owen Moxon cross to score at the home end.

United boss Paul Simpson named an unchanged side but included his two new signings on the bench, while Jamie Devitt was also back from Covid and in the squad for the first time since signing his new deal.

Colchester boss Wayne Brown made one change, replacing John Akinde with Alex Newby in his starting line-up.

United, from the outset, looked to press the hosts and attack in numbers.

But they were almost caught out in the seventh minute when the U's counter-attacked, Freddie Sears cutting in from the right channel to fire across Tomas Holy and against the inside of the post.

News and Star: Jack Armer misses an early chanceJack Armer misses an early chance

United then went on to force some good chances of their own in an open early spell.

First, Moxon's cross found Ryan Edmondson free but the striker failed to connect with his header.

Next, Jordan Gibson's superb floated cross found Jack Armer arriving in acres, but the wing-back sent his header off target.

Pressure from Edmondson then forced a mistake from Ryan Clampin, whose backpass was intercepted by Dennis, only for keeper Sam Hornby to save the striker's shot.

But then United, having come close to scoring, then went behind.

Colchester broke at them down the left after Ben Barclay gave the ball away, and when Luke Hannant worked it inside, Chilvers had room on the edge of the box to drill low past Holy.

News and Star: Chilvers fires home for ColchesterChilvers fires home for Colchester

Carlisle worked more opportunities as they chased the game but were thankful the hosts didn't punish them when Holy drove a clearance against Morgan Feeney to concede a corner.

United then worked their way back at Brown's side, Dennis testing Hornby from outside the box and Moxon shooting wide after good work from Edmondson.

A scrappier spell followed but Carlisle remained very much in it as Gibson almost picked out Edmondson from a good position.

And then the Blues grabbed their leveller in the 45th minute as a corner found its way back to Moxon, and the Cumbrian midfielder found Dennis with a pinpoint cross as the unmarked striker nodded low past Hornby and into the bottom right corner.

News and Star: Dennis celebrates with Ben BarclayDennis celebrates with Ben Barclay

Simpson and No2 Gavin Skelton pumped their fists in celebration as United finally found the goal their general play had merited.

Dennis then should have doubled his tally early in the second half, when found in space by an excellent Fin Back cross - but the frontman steered his header wide.

At the other end, Holy kept out a Chilvers effort from close range, as Gibson beat the onrushing Hannant man to the breaking ball.

Simpson then sent on Omari Patrick for Edmondson as Colchester made a triple change, and one of the new home arrivals - Frank Nouble - failed to make the most of a Junior Tchamadeu cross when free in the box.

Stretton was then brought on for his debut at Dennis's expense, but chances were scarce from here for the Blues as a Nouble header found Sears at the back post only for Feeney to block the Colchester forward's scuffed finish.

Tchamadeu caused problems down the left for the hosts and saw one attempt blocked by Back, who had earlier been booked for fouling the home player.

News and Star: Jack Stretton comes on for his debutJack Stretton comes on for his debut

The hosts steadily got on top, though Simpson's side largely defended solidly, and they came close themselves with five minutes to go when Gibson found Armer at the back post and Hornby pushed his header around the post.

Simpson then brought on Harris in the closing stages, with Gibson having a deflected shot saved in six added minutes and home sub Ossama Ashley slicing a final opportunity wide.

Colchester: Hornby, Clampin (Coxe 73), Eastman, Chambers, Tchamadeu, Skuse (Akinde 87), Newby (Ashley 62), Hannant (Nouble 62), Chilvers, Judge (Marshall Miranda 62), Sears. Not used: Collins, Dallison.

Goals: Chilvers 19.

United: Holy, Barclay, Feeney, Mellish, Back, Armer, Guy, Moxon (Harris 88), Gibson, Dennis (Stretton 69), Edmondson (Patrick 62). Not used: Kelly, Hilton, Whelan, Devitt.

Goals: Dennis 45.

Booked: Back, Barclay.

Ref: James Oldham.

Crowd: 3,137 (314 Colchester fans).