Colchester United had to settle for a share of the spoils this afternoon after playing out a 1-1 home draw with Port Vale.

The U's looked on course to secure a valuable win in the promotion push after Sammie Szmodics gave them a first-half lead.

But Vale were much improved in the second half and scored a deserved equaliser through Marcus Harness, to claim a share of the spoils at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Colchester head coach John McGreal named an unchanged side for the visit of Vale, in their final home game of 2017.

Former Vale loanee Ryan Inniss was not fit enough to be considered following his shoulder injury but striker Kurtis Guthrie was named among the substitutes after recovering from his most recent ankle injury that has kept him out for nearly three months.

Sanmi Odelusi was also on the bench despite being told that the U’s will not be renewing his contract when it expires on December 31.

The game started in lively fashion and Colchester almost fell behind inside the opening minute.

Dave Worrall raced onto Ben Whitfield’s pass and through on goal after some slick Vale passing but his low shot was saved by U’s keeper Sam Walker.

But Colchester looked menacing and in the 15th minute, Sammie Szmodics’ latched onto Tom Lapslie’s lofted through ball and beat two defenders to the pass before hooking a first-time effort just wide of the upright.

Szmodics curled another effort inches wide minutes later but Vale remained a threat and Walker pushed away Whitfield’s swerving long-range strike for a corner, after Tom Pope had laid the ball off.

But Colchester made the all-important breakthrough just after the half hour mark.

Szmodics’ latched onto Lapslie’s fine pass and broke the Vale offside trap before advancing into the area and poking a shot past keeper Ryan Boot.

Colchester very nearly made it 2-0, five minutes later.

Wright looked certain to score after being set up by Mikael Mandron in the area but saw his effort somehow deflect wide for a corner.

Vale made a change at the break, bringing on striker Tyrone Barnett for midfielder Cristian Montano in an attacking move.

And the visitors started the second half brightly, with Walker pushing away Antony Kay’s 30-yard strike and Colchester skipper Tom Lapslie nodding Nathan Smith’s header off the line.

Colchester had an even bigger let off just after the hour when Kay's fine header from Worrall's corner shook the crossbar, something that prompted McGreal to send on defender Cameron James for winger Kyel Reid and switch to a 3-5-2 formation in a bid to gain more of a grip on the game.

But Vale equalised with 15 minutes remaining through Marcus Harness, who headed in from substitute Tyler Denton's cross from close range.

Szmodics almost restored Colchester's lead immediately afterwards when his lofted attempt clipped the top of the crossbar but the spoils were shared.