The U's were left to regret a missed opportunity on Saturday afternoon, as they shared the spoils with struggling Stockport County.
With the visitors two up in twenty minutes - much like the home game against the Hatters - the U's looked in good shape to complete a double over Gary Ablett's side.
But a Jabo Ibehre double pegged the U's back and prevented them closing the gap on the top two.
On a day where most of the rest of the play-off pack had dropped points, the U's would have been frustrated not to have seen the game home.
Colchester United named an unchanged starting eleven for their tough clash against relegation favourites Stockport County who were looking for their first win in 17 games. The Hatters have only managed two draws out of their previous 17 matches; the rest coming as defeats.
Just as the U's clash against their local rivals Southend on Monday, the pitch at Edgeley Road was a clear talking point ahead of kick-off. It may not have had the same levels of sand seen at the Weston Homes Community Stadium but the lack of grass and bounce looked very familiar.
The opening stages of the match saw few chances as both teams were testing each other's back lines with a few balls in behind and some clever passing. On five minutes David Prutten found himself with enough space to get a shot in from 20 yards however, this was well wide of Fon Williams right hand post.
It was then Stockport's turn to threaten as some clever link up play between Ibehre and Donnelly eventually fell to Partridge outside the U's box and his shot was calmly gathered by Ben Williams.
The U's should have been in front on 9 minutes as Fon Williams made a terrific save from O'tools close range drive after Odejayi headed down a John White cross.
One minute later the U's did take the lead when David Prutton's 40 yard free kick went straight through the flailing arms of Fon Williams who was under little pressure at best from Clive Platt. This will definitely be seen as a poor goal keeping error.
Aidy Boothroyd's men started to look the more comfortable side then their struggling counterparts as they attacked away from the Railway End which contained a loud contingent of about three hundred travelling U's fans behind them.
Connelly then found himself one on one with Ben Williams as a long ball fell kindly to him from a poor clearance from the U's defence, his subsequent shot from 7 yards out crashed back of Ben William's near post and Johnson then curled the resulting rebound shot over from 20 yards.
It was then the U's turn to attack as some smart one touch football from Antony Wordsworth, Clive Platt and Marc Tierney who's cross eventually came out to Izzett who shot over from 25 yards.
Antony Wordsworth then doubled the U's lead on eighteen minutes when Pruttons short corner came to on form midfielder who cut inside his man and smashed into Fon Williams far top corner with a hint of a slight deflection on the way through.
Shortly afterwards, Odejayi stole the ball from under Swails nose near the halfway line and ran straight through to Stockport's 18 yard box where Fon Williams made a fine save to prevent the U's being three up on twenty minutes.
Two minutes later Stockport played a long ball through to Ibehre who couldn't believe his luck when Williams and Heath crashed into each other to leave Ibehre with an open goal from 11 yards out and to the whole grounds amazement he placed it wide of the goal.
It was a warning which the U's took little notice of as Ibehre then found the net from 6 yards out after Williams made a great save from Donnelly's low shot from 12 yards out.
It was Huntingdon who was then left blushing after he gave the ball away to Platt inside his own area but had his shot superbly blocked by the troubled defender.
Marc Tierney then found himself with plenty of space out wide and whipped an inch perfect ball in to Odejayi who could only glance wide of the far post.
A minute later Platt played a neat pass into Izzett who played it out wide to John White only to see his cross flicked on by Prutton's to Odejayi who could only scuff his shot towards Fon Williams.
Shortly after Antony Wordsworth found himself nine yards out from goal and what appeared to be plenty of space when John Whites low cross tricked through to him, yet to see Tansey slide in fantastically from behind to deny the young U's midfielder his second of the game.
Stockport rallied as their partisan fans encouraged them forward and had a big shout for handball turned down by referee Haines when Partridges cross hit O'tool on the arm which to be fair wasn't really raised.
The U's were ending the half the brighter side as they mounted several late attacks which saw the best effort coming from Kem Izzett who volleyed over from the edge of the box.
Odejayi then had the last two U's chances of the half. The first coming from his shot from after some neat U's work was blocked by Huntington just inside the box. Whilst the second was a looping header from Marc Tierney's cross which was collected by Fon Williams.
Stockport then ended the first half with a Sadler 30 yard free kick which was always high and wide from Ben Williams goal. Half time 1-2 to the U's.
Matt Heath took a hard knock from Ibehre straight after kick off as the County striker followed through well after Heath had cleared the ball and was rightly a yellow card for his troubles.
Richard Partridge played a superb chip through ball for Ibehre to run onto but he could only place his angled shot just over Ben William's crossbar.
The U's fans were in particular loud voice every time Fon Williams had a goal kick in front of them as his first half kicking was particularly poor.
Jemal Johnson then placed a nice ball into Tansey who crashed a shot from 20 yards which fortunately had all the pace taken out of it by a deflection which Williams gratefully gathered.
Marc Tierney found himself once again with plenty of space down the left hand side and whipped in a delicate ball for Odejayi to glance straight at Fon Williams.
Both teams tried to play some direct football but neither could manage to create any clear chances for the next 10 minute spell of the game. The home side did eventually come the closest when Partridges cross was met by Ibehre but looped his header well over the bar onto the roof of the net.
A minute later John White's throw was flicked on by Platt to Prutton who found the ball stuck under his feet for Stockport to clear from 9 yards out.
Moments later, Fon Williams made a fine save when O'tool blasted towards the near top corner after White's 35 yards free kick wasn't properly cleared.
Antony Wordsworth then intercepted a stray pass across the Stockport backline and crossed in only to see it fly over the lurking Odejayi and Platt.
Colchester's first change came on 70 minutes when the lively Ian Henderson came on for the reliable front man Platt. Henderson almost made an immediate impact with some neat turning to get inside County's box only to be tackled by two County defenders.
The Hatters had a corner 2 minutes later and the headed clearance was met by a true volley by Tansey but the flying volley was well wide.
As Stockport were chasing an equaliser they made 2 substitutions on 75 minutes with Turnball and Johnson making way for James Vincent and Danny Pilkington.
The changes had a positive impact for the Hatters as a minute later, Stockport did find an equaliser when a long ball from Huntingdon was misjudged by Matt Heath who jumped to head it clear but couldn't reach left Ibehre one on one with Williams to slot his second home from close range.
The U's nearly regained the lead a minute later when Tierney's cross was collected and laid off by Henderson to Prutton who scooped his shot just past the far post.
Both teams could sense a winner and pushed to try and take the advantage and Partridge came close on 82 minutes when his low drive was well saved by Williams.
The home side broke again with Ibehre's strength and pace down the right but Okounghae turned behind to play safe. The U's then broke down the left with Worsdwroth and Tierney but the attack was interrupted by a Huntingdon foul who was subsequently yellow carded for his sins.
Colchester were throwing everything forward in the dying stages to try and take all three points back to North Essex and a minute later it looked like the U's had done just that. Henderson's crashing 15 yard shot crashed against the underside of the crossbar and appeared to have maybe crossed the line but the decision from the officials was to give the benefit of the doubt.
4 minutes were shown on the board by the fourth Official as the game had turned into real end to end stuff. Both teams huffed and puffed and when Huntingdon left a long ball for his keeper to try and race out to clear, it looked like another blunder was on the cards as Fon Williams was closed down by Henderson and when he smashed his clearance into the U's midfielder which rebounded back, just past the unguarded goal.
This ended up being the last chance of the match and with the U's being two ahead early on it will definitely feel like two points dropped.
Credit to the struggling League One side who fought hard all afternoon and were probably worthy of sharing the points but Aidy's men will see it as a lost opportunity to make up ground on the automatic places.