Colchester United were dragged closer to the bottom four on Saturday afternoon, as Tranmere Rovers took the points at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
They had dominated the first half an hour but again were left to rue missed chances, as Rovers got their noses in front.
That superiority in the opening forty-five was at least rewarded with an equaliser just before the break, as Freddie Sears beat the previously impenetrable Owain Fon Williams.
But they fell behind for a second time after the break as Ryan Lowe was again the thorn in Colchester's side, after scoring in the reverse fixture at Prenton Park earlier in the season.
Goals had been hard to come by recently for Colchester but minutes in Jabo Ibehre raced through on goal and looked certain to score.
The shot however lacked any placement and rolled straight at Fon Williams, kicking off what would be a frustrating half for the U’s.
Colchester looked unlike a team that had lost three on the bounce and instead cut Tranmere open time and time again in the early stages.
A lightning counter attack brought U’s close again as Freddie Sears dummied Gavin Massey’s cross, leaving the ball for Dom Vose who looked certain to get a shot away but scuffed his first touch.
Rovers’ Fon Williams pulled off a wonder save to keep out U’s next chance as Alex Gilbey controlled Magnus Okounghae’s knock down and lashed a shot which was destined for the top corner.
The U’s domination continued with Ibehre, Sears and Gilbey all spurring goal scoring opportunities with Tranmere just about hanging on.
But as football goes, Tranmere would get their chance, and score it too. A poor U’s free kick saw Vose dispossessed and with the centre backs caught up field a Rovers counter attack was on.
Max Power in acres of space had time to wait for the run of Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and then pick out the winger who unlike the U’s attackers had the composure to finish and put Tranmere ahead.
The goal looked to have deflated U’s but just before half time they had a deserved equaliser through Freddie Sears as he racked up his 8th goal of the season.
Bursting forward as he has done for so much of the season Ryan Dickson got the to the byline and following a clever pass from Dom Vose, he crossed low into the path of Sears who finished well.
Colchester made a change at half time as Tosin Olufemi made way for Sanchez Watt, with Gavin Massey retreating to the right full back position.
Tranmere responded with early changes of their own as Danny Holmes and Jake Kirby replaced Stephen Arthurworrey and Jason Koumas.
It was the players already on the pitch however that doubled Rovers’ lead. Akpa Akpro beat Massey in the box and drove a pass into the feet of Ryan Lowe who netted his 20th goal of the season.
Massey who was having a tough time dealing with Akpa Akpro moved back up this pitch as Alex Wynter replaced Dom Vose and slotted into the right side of defence.
Colchester’s frustration continued when Ibehre headed painfully over the bar from Dickson’s lofted cross which nearly earned him another assist.
At the other end a lack of communication between the defence and Sam Walker looked to have allowed Jake Cassidy to add a third but for Wynter’s vital block just in front of goal.
Joe Dunne played his last card Drey Wright replaced David Wright in midfield with U’s looking for some extra flair up front.
The teenager came so close to drawing Colchester level as he steadied himself and pinged a shot from the edge of the box, Fon Williams was beaten but Pennington was on the line to clear.
A last minute corner saw Walker get in the Tranmere box but there was to be no comeback from U’s as Tranmere held on to match their 2-1 win in the reverse fixture and move onto level points with Colchester.