Colchester United gave their hopes of progressing to the knockout stages of the Checkatrade Trophy a boost on Tuesday night, with a comfortable 2-0 win over Essex rivals Southend United.
The U's made seven changes from the Stevenage defeat at the weekend, as players were given a chance to impress by John McGreal.
And the U's Head Coach will have been pleased with what he saw, particularly in the second half, where his side stretched their legs and could have scored more than the two they ended up with.
In an evenly contested first twenty minutes, chances were at a relative premium and only a goalmouth scramble from a Southend corner on 14 minutes troubled either keeper in that period.
The U’s first sight of goal came on the 21 mark, as Jackson struck in a low shot from a wide angle that Bishop smothered without too much trouble.
The two teams traded possession – with the U’s generally having the better of it – but clear sights of goal continued to be elusive.
With 34 minutes gone, Jackson got away down the right and he squared it for Szmodics, whose first time shot was well blocked.
Having had most of the possession, the U’s got their noses in front with six minutes to go to half time. Jackson flung over a long throw that Kent flicked home into the far side netting.
It gave the home side a spring in their step and then they almost got in again as Collins had a shot blocked, before Wright showed a real touch of class on the edge of the box to send his defender the wrong way before shooting just wide.
The U’s took that single goal lead into the break, and made a change at the interval as Ryan Jackson was replaced by Kane Vincent-Young.
And the home side were two up five minutes into the second half as a lovely flowing move ended with Collins keeping his calm to slot past Bishop for his first U’s goal.
The U’s made their second change just before the hour mark, as Szmodics was replaced by Courtney Senior.
Bishop got away with one when his scuffed kick went just past Collins on the edge of the box, before Mandron volleyed over the bar.
The chances kept coming for the home team as Vincent-Young left Hendrie standing before driving towards the goal and forcing a stop out of Bishop.
Then Collins went in search of a second and struck a fierce shot that went just over the bar with Bishop happy to see it zip by.
Next, Senior unselfishly squared it to Vincent-Young, who could have shot first time but his eventual effort was blocked.
At the other end, the ball was set up for Yearwood to step onto, but Kent was quick to come out and block.
The game wasn’t done and dusted and Southend had a great chance to score when it was stood up for McCoulsky at the far post, but Eastman just about got himself in the way to deflect the ball over the bar.
But the U’s were able to keep the visitors at bay during that spell and made their final change with six minutes to go as Mandron was replaced by Norris.
The U's front man bent one over as they sought a match clinching goal, but they had to settle for two in the end and a much needed win to keep their hopes of progressing through to the knockout stages alive.