LUKE Norris staked a claim for a Colchester United starting spot after bagging a brace in the under-23s' 4-4 draw with Coventry City, writes BRIAN WALLER.

Substitute Michael Fernandes also scored twice in the U's thrilling Professional Development League Two encounter, at the JobServe Community Stadium.

It was a very strong looking Colchester under-23 team which also included the likes of Kwame Poku, Courtney Senior and Omar Sowunmi, who headed away from danger early on.

Norris gave Colchester a second-minute lead when he received the ball on the edge of the box and thumped a shot into the net.

But Coventry responded well and Jordi Hiwula drove a shot wide, while soon after Gervane Kastaneer's effort smacked a post after a great run down the right.

Norris's drive went wide of the far post and the striker then saw an effort on the turn diverted away for a corner, before his dipping half volley flew just over the bar.

Senior fired straight at Coventry keeper Tom Billson but the U’s gifted Coventry an equaliser when a poor pass in their own box and Hiwula's touch on allowed Jodi Jones to level, after 25 minutes.

And Colchester fell behind after 36 minutes when Kastaneer's clever hooked shot went in off the underside of the bar.

But less than two minutes later, the U's equalised through Norris, who scored from the spot after Senior had been fouled in the box.

Poku was denied by Billson just before the break and Colchester went close again just after half-time through Norris, who was denied a hat-trick by the woodwork after his effort struck the right-hand post.

Billson foiled Dean Ager before Jones restored Coventry's lead after 57 minutes, turning well and striking the ball home after some good build-up play.

A fine save from Ross denied Jones a hat-trick before Hiwula made it 4-2 with 17 minutes remaining after holding Tafari Moore at bay, rounding Ross and slipping the ball into the net.

This prompted a double home change as Norris and Senior were replaced by Sammie McLeod and Matt Weaire, as the U’s went three at the back.

Colchester were gifted a route back into the contest with ten minutes remaining when a shocking cross-field ball went straight to Fernandes, who slotted into an empty net.

And Fernandes sealed a draw for the U's five minutes later when he superbly controlled the ball, came back infield wide of the defender and the keeper and slipped the ball inside the near post.

Hiwula had an effort ruled out for offside late on, as a well-contested match ended all square.

U's U23: Ross, Moore, Kensdale, Sowunmi, Clampin, Campbell-Ryce, Hyde, Senior (sub Weaire), Ager, Poku (sub Fernandes), Norris (sub McLeod). Subs (not used): Scarlett, Coulter.