But inside two minutes the Millers were back on level terms. Joe Scarz's cross from the left deceived central defender Cian Bolger and Matt Tubbs controlled on his chest before firing past Sam Walker.
And 12 minutes later the home side went in front. Kari Arnason's long throw-in caused panic in the Colchester rear guard, Lee Frecklington's shot was blocked but Kieran Agard fired home through the crowd.
But just as Rotherham thought they had won, the U's grabbed an equaliser in the final seconds of added time with an Elliot Lee header from Garbutt's corner which the linesman ruled had cross the line.
Evans said afterwards: "It's not about confidence because we absolutely battered Colchester from start to finish. I don't know how I am going to cope with it, but I'll cope with it when I wake up in the morning.
"They had two efforts on goal and they both went in. I'd rather play badly and win.
"We know it was a minimum of four minutes added time, but it was well into the fifth minute when they scored.
"We cannot get any consistency in team selection because of bookings. They had three warnings and no bookings but we get a booking, so we have been restricted in personnel. The dressing room is devastated but we will be back on Monday, but right now we are as low as we have ever been."
- Sports & Recreation
- Luke Garbutt
- Lee Frecklington
- Marcus Bean