Colchester United strengthened their promotion credentials on Tuesday night, as they saw off fellow hopefuls Lincoln City 1-0 in a battling display.
They saw off Lincoln's physical attacking threat and kept their sixth clean sheet in nine games to push up to ninth in the League Two table.
The U’s got off to a perfect start as they took the lead, after just three minutes. Mikael Mandron slid the ball into the box and found Drey Wright.
He tried to work some space for himself, but eventually opted to square it to Sammie Szmodics, who calmly finished with a tidy finish into the bottom corner.
Lincoln were a threat themselves in the early stages, but it was the U’s who were next ot go close to scoring.
A good ball sent Ryan Jackson away again down the right and he sent it into the path of Szmodics. Turning sharply in the box, he squared it to Mandron, who was denied twice by good defending at the near post.
The visitors almost drew level on the half hour mark, though. A free kick 25 yards out by Nathan Arnold crashed back off the bar, and although Ollie Palmer was nearly able to nod home, Sam Walker was able to claim.
At the other end, a low U’s cross into the box was sliced towards his own goal by Knott and it took Vickers to scramble across and turn it away from danger.
Seven minutes before the break, the U’s worked the ball quickly into the feet of Szmodics, but he dragged his shot wide this time.
With the U’s 1-0 up at the break, the visitors made a double change in introducing Matt Green and Matt Rheade, and the duo had an impact as the visitors had the best of the opening quarter of an hour in the second half.
But for all of that pressure, it was the U’s who had the first real chance of the second half. The ball was again squared to Szmodics and his shot took a deflection on its way to goal, as Vickers saved well.
Next, Lincoln went close as they used their height at set pieces, with Raggett heading towards goal, but straight into the arms of Walker.
The chances were starting to come and Eastman flicked a header from a free kick that dropped just past the far post.
The U’s thought they had doubled their advantage with twenty minutes to go as Szmodics smashed home after Wright had had his shot saved, but the flag went up for offside to kill off the fans’ celebrations.
Wright then took the ball forward 30 yards, laying it into the path of Mandron whose effort was eventually scrambled clear.
Lincoln were able to see off that ten minutes of pressure and then had a good chance of their own as Anderson seized on a loose ball and drilled in a fierce shot that Walker held well.
Substitute Stewart fired well over from a free kick, before the U’s made their second change with the introduction of Brandon Hanlan in place of Mandron.
Inniss headed over from a U’s corner with six minutes to go, before Comley put in a timely tackle in the box just as it looked the visitors might sweep home a loose ball.
The visitors were playing long into the box to try and get that much needed break of the ball, but the U's were defending manfully and protecting Walker as they looked to see out the game.
And the impressive Wright was helping take the ball up the pitch and away from danger as the U's mainainted their lead.
Five minutes of additional time gave the U's more to think about but, despite a series of balls into the area, the home side were not to be beaten and saw out the remaining time without too many serious threats.
The win lifts the U's to ninth, just two points off the top seven and four points off fourth as the recent run has seen them collect 21 points in the last ten games.