MICHAEL Rose dealt his former side's promotion hopes a blow when his 88th minute penalty earned the Shrimps a deserved draw a the Globe Arena.
Rose struck with two minutes to go after Antony Evans had been brought down in the box by Alex Wynter for a penalty which Rose calmly slotted home.
For a long time it looked as though Colchester defender Richard Brindley was going to be the unlikely match-winner for the U’s, after a superb 22nd minute free kick looked set to give the play off chasers the three points.
Winter had come close in the first minute of the game with a goalbound effort that was cleared off the line buy Alex Whitmore but he made no mistake from a 20 yard free kick.
Tarique Fosu was fouled outside the box by centre-half Alex Whitmore, and up stepped Brindley to curl a delightful free-kick over the defensive wall and into the top corner of the net.
It was a fantastic strike by Brindley, who finally celebrated his first goal of the season in his 40th appearance, and only his second-ever goal for the U’s.
Morecambe had earlier seen a goal disallowed controversially when Kevin Ellison got the finishing touch to a long throw in only to see his effort ruled out - after a delay - for offside.
Morecambe did play some decent football in the first half and visiting keeper Sam Walker smothered an angled low drive from Aaron Wildig, down at his near post, while leading scorer Paul Mullin blasted over the top from a promising position, following Ellison’s teasing cross.
Walker made an excellent save to keep the score goalless on 20 minutes. He tipped Mullin’s rising shot over his bar, as the visitors continued to soak up some pressure.
But just two minutes later and the U’s were ahead, thanks to Brindley’s wonderful free-kick into the top corner of the net.
The visitors had appeals for a penalty turned down in the 26th minute. Fosu went down in the box but instead referee Seb Stockbridge opted to book the Reading loanee instead of awarding a spot kick.
Chances then dried up until just before the break, when Brindley threatened with another well-struck free-kick. This time Nizic caught the ball beneath his bar.
Into the second half and Wright had a first-time shot deflected over the bar for a corner, after being teed up by strike-force Chris Porter on 49 minutes.
It was becoming a very scrappy game, as illustrated by home keeper Nizic dropping the ball at the feet of Fosu, following Sean Murray’s 70th minute corner into the six-yard box. Unfortunately, Fosu lifted his effort over the bar.
At the other end, defender Alex Kenyon fired a ferocious shot into the side-netting, with many home fans being fooled into thinking that the ball had nestled in the back of the net.
However, Shrimps supporters were celebrating a deserved equaliser with two minutes remaining, thanks to Rose’ penalty.
MORECAMBE: Nizic, Winnard, Whitmore, McGowan, Fleming, Duckworth, Kenyon (sub Murphy, 82), Rose, Wildig (sub Evans, 46), Ellison (sub Turner, 78), Mullin. Unused subs: Maher, Wakefuield, Molyneux, Conlan.
Booked: Whitmore, Winnard.
COLCHESTER: Walker, Eastman, James, Elokobi, Brindley, Loft (sub Wynter, 76), Murray, Dickenson, Fosu (sub O’Sullivan, 82), Porter, Drey Wright (sub Pyke, 90). Unused subs: Brill, Briggs, Kinsella, Diaz Wright.
Booked: Loft, Fosu.
Referee: Seb Stockbridge (Tyne).