Josh Walker scored on his Scunthorpe debut as they picked up a vital point at mid-table Colchester.
Walker, put the visitors ahead as his shot deflected in off Tom Eastman following Jordan Robertson's pass.
Colchester levelled from the spot through Steven Gillespie after he was tripped in the area by Eddie Nolan.
Gillespie went close again just before the break, while Roberston had the best chance of the second half.
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Colchester United manager John Ward told BBC Essex:
"I'll accept the draw, I'm in the business of trying to win but I think we've done everything we possibly can to try and win the game.
"I feel for them (my team), in terms of their efforts, their goalkeeper's palmed and padded and kicked and punched and flapped at so many things throughout the afternoon.
"We deserved a wee bit of a break, we haven't got that. If we can put as many shots at goal as we've done today, in the remaining games we'll win more matches."
Scunthorpe United manager Alan Knill told BBC Radio Humberside:
"I thought it was a game we could have won, and second half I thought we were the stronger team.
"I am just disappointed, we put the ball across the goal and did everything except put it in the back of the net.
"It was a fantastic effort from the players, this is a difficult place to come."