Colchester United made it a second home win in a week and bounced back from last week's reverse to Stevenage with a fine 3-1 win over Crawley.
This victory was one where the team showed real tenacity and they thrived after feeling the injustice of a first half penalty for the visitors.
Goals from Sammie Szmodics, Frank Nouble and Luke Norris earned victory, although a goalline clearance at 2-1 by Luke Prosser also proved crucial in the win.
The first real chance of the game fell to the U’s after six minutes. Pell drove through midfield and passed to Nouble, who did well to get over a dangerous cross. Norris rose to get onto it and it was a good low save from Morris to keep it at 0-0.
The good start continued when, after Norris couldn’t quite contrive a position to shoot, the ball was cleared to Pell, whose low sidefoot was blocked away to safety.
Some of the U’s approach play was good to watch and Nouble nutmegged Young before seeing his shot blocked – and Szmodics’ follow-up was blocked for a corner.
Crawley were a threat on the counter and Jackson had to be in the right place in the right time to clear when the visitors looked set to score on 16 minutes.
Morris was the visitor’s saviour again on 24 minutes as Pell picked up a pass from Senior and struck in a low shot that the keeper fielded with Norris lingering for any loose balls.
The U’s eventually got their noses in front on 27 with Szmodics’ fifth of the season. Senior sent Young the wrong way, and his low cross was helped on unselfishly by Norris for Szmodics to slot home.
The visitors were almost instantly level, as Palmer rose high at the far post to send in a towering header, but Gilmartin did well to parry it away.
The U’s keeper could do little to prevent the visitors getting level in controversial circumstances just before half time.
Gambin was adjudged to have been fouled by Prosser – the U’s players thought it was potentially simulation and also outside the box and, after discussion with his linesman, Mr Kettle gave the spot kick.
Morais stepped up and slotted home the penalty, amidst frustration from the home support.
The game was threatening to get out of control, with Morais and Connolly booked for fouls on Lapslie and Nouble.
All square at the break, the U’s were aiming to get their noses back in front, but it required good work from Pell to deny Morais as he got onto Palmer’s flick on.
And the U’s got in front four minutes later. They had kept the ball around the Crawley box and Norris drove across the area and laid it into the path of Nouble, who bent it brilliantly past Morris to put the U’s back in front.
The visitors tried to get level through Poleon as his shot nicked a U’s leg on the way through and it was well fielded by Gilmartin.
And Poleon was within inches of diverting home Maguire’s header as the visitors threatened to get that second goal.
The U’s reacted with a change of shape, with Kent coming on for Senior for the final twenty minutes.
But it was another defensive moment that kept them in front as Prosser brilliantly cleared off the line from Palmer’s header.
The U’s made their second change with fourteen to go, as Dickenson came on for Vincent-Young, before Wright replaced Pell three minutes later.
They had the next sight of goal as Kent and Nouble won headers to set up Szmodics on the edge of the box, and he forced a good stop out of Morris.
The U’s could have got a third when a clever touch around the corner got Szmodics a sight of goal, but he bent it just past the post.
But they did get the next one, when they again won the ball in a good area and it was set up for Norris to drill one into the bottom corner.
And Norris sparked a reaction out of N’Gala just before full time that saw the defender see red.
It was a cracking win for the U’s in an entertaining game, ahead of two long trips.