Cambridge United took away a well-earned point from a topsy-turvy tussle against Carlisle United which ended 2-2 at Brunton Park.
The U's took an early lead through Hepburn-Murphy before Jamie Devitt and Nathan Thomas flipped the scoreline before half time, and Jabo Ibehre levelled midway through the second half.
United lined up with three changes as Carroll, Coulson and Hepburn-Murphy moved into the starting eleven, in place of Amoo, Dunk and Lambe with the latter on international duty.
Having had a two week period to freshen up following the postponed fixture at Bury a week earlier, Calderwood’s men certainly shot out the blocks from the first whistle. Jevani Brown’s precise pass between Carlisle’s centre backs played Hepburn-Murphy through on goal after four minutes, and the Villa loanee made no mistake when firing his effort across the target and into the bottom corner.
Dimitar Mitov was able to watch a right footed strike by Jamie Devitt from 20 yards sail comfortably wide of his far post on 17 minutes as the U’s proceeded to dictate much of the play during the opening quarter of the game.
The Bulgarian was forced into action twice soon after when he first got both hands to a fiercely hit attempt by Mike Jones, and then denied Callum O’Hare moments later with a fine save high to his left.
At the other end Hepburn-Murphy continued to threaten offensively for United and almost found himself on the end of a loose ball inside the six yard box when Ibehre dislodged possession from Collin’s grasp, only for the Cumbrian’s keeper to recover quickly.
Jevani Brown went within fractions of doubling the U’s lead ten minutes before the break but his attempt from the edge of the Carlisle area didn’t quite curl enough to sneak inside the far post.
And the U’s were then pegged back moments later when space opened up for Devitt 18 yards out and the number 10 cracked a shot off the underside of the bar and in, giving Mitov no chance.
Hepburn-Murphy couldn’t convert his second of the game when found in a similar position by Brown inside the Carlisle area, as Adam Collin thwarted the striker on this occasion.
Just as the sides looked to be heading down the tunnel level, Nathan Thomas wriggled his way into the U’s area from the right and scored in first half stoppage time from eight yards out.
Hepburn-Murphy was forced off five minutes into the second half after a heavy collision and was replaced by David Amoo, who took to the field against his former side.
Hallam Hope twice pulled the trigger inside the U’s area before the hour mark but neither attempt found Mitov’s target.
Adam Collin produced a stunning reaction save to deny Jabo Ibehre the chance to level for the U’s against his former side on 64 minutes, tipping the striker’s prod at goal from Couslon’s cross around the post with his fingertips.
George Taft then missed a guilt-edged opportunity from the resulting corner when he headed over the top having been found unmarked in the centre of Carlisle’s box.
The persistence from Calderwood’s men soon paid off though as Brown again slid through a pass through on goak and Ibehre had enough pace to poke the ball beyond Collin and level the game on 69 minutes.
Brown perhaps should have had a third assist for the day when George Maris slid the forward in behind the Carlisle defence, but had a shot at goal saved by Collin when perhaps the better option would have been to square the ball for a certain tap in for sub Alex Jones.
The hosts too had chances to win the game with Hallam Hope going all too close from a United perspective when he crashed an effort against the woodwork ten minutes from time.
However, the biggest opportunity fell at the feet of Jevani Brown with the last kick of the match deep into added time when Jones found Anthony Gerrard floundering with the ball 40 yards from goal and it skidded through for the U’s forward one on one. However Collin, who had denied the U’s on a number of occasions throughout the afternoon, did so one final time to mean United travelled back having to settle for a point instead of all three.
Carlisle United: Collin, Miller, Grainger, Gerrard, Parkes, Jones, Hope (Kennedy, 89 mins), Devitt (Scougall, 74 mins), Slater, Thomas, O’Hare
Cambridge United: Mitov, Halliday, Taft, Taylor, Carroll, Deegan, Maris, Brown, Coulson (Lewis, 74 mins), Ibehre (Jones, 71 mins), Hepburn-Murphy (Amoo, 51 mins)
Attendance: 4,673 (214)