A fourth goal in five matches from Freddie Sears gave Colchester victory against 10-man Preston, who continue to struggle in League One.
The former West Ham youngster netted early in the second half after Jabo Ibehre had combined with George Porter.
Winger Lee Holmes came closest to an Preston equaliser, rattling the bar with a curling shot.
And North End's misery was complete when Bailey Wright was dismissed after an off-the-ball incident with Ibehre.
VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Colchester United manager Joe Dunne told BBC Essex:
"There are many types of victory, I suppose the three points counts at the end of the day, but I thought the manner of our victory was very, very pleasing.
"It was a gritty game, discipline was key. I thought we had enough quality, in terms of how we attacked Preston, to win the game.
"Preston threw everything at us, we defended exceptionally well, we knew what was coming.
"The first goal has been key in most of the games we've been involved in lately and when we got the first goal, you saw the confidence exude."
Preston manager Graham Westley told BBC Radio Lancashire:
"We're disappointed to have lost another game.
"The work ethic of the players was solid and the desire they were showing was clear and evident.
"The difference between what we're doing and winning is very slight, but we're stopping on the wrong side of the line on a consistent basis at the moment.
"We've got to make sure we change our mindset and get over the line."
Live text and stats
Saturday, 9 February 2013
20 Wilson (Eastman 57)
25 White yellow card
39 Porter yellow card (Compton 85)
41 Clifford (Bean 90+1)
17 Ibehre yellow card
29 Shaun Phillips,
05 Robertson yellow card
26 Wright two yellow cards, red card
18 Procter (Beardsley 75)
09 Cummins (Huntington 83 yellow card)
11 Holmes (Monakana 76)
Ref: HaywoodAtt: 3,215
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
90:00+5:25 The referee blows for the end of the match.
89:54 Direct free kick taken by David Wright.
89:54 Substitution Billy Clifford leaves the field to be replaced by Marcus Bean.
89:54 Booking Paul Huntington is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.
89:37 Paul Huntington challenges Freddie Sears unfairly and gives away a free kick.
87:16 David Buchanan takes a shot. Josh Thompson gets a block in. David Buchanan takes a shot. Save by Sam Walker.
86:49 Corner taken short by David Buchanan.
84:14 Substitution Jack Compton replaces George Porter.
83:15 John Welsh takes a corner.
82:47 Substitution Paul Huntington comes on in place of Graham Cummins.
82:02 Sent off The referee red cards Bailey Wright for second bookable offence.
81:14 Booking Jabo Ibehre receives a caution for unsporting behaviour.
78:21 Direct free kick taken by John White.
78:21 Booking Bailey Wright goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.
78:10 Bailey Wright challenges Freddie Sears unfairly and gives away a free kick.
76:22 Joe Garner produces a right-footed shot from inside the area that clears the crossbar.
74:47 Substitution (Preston) makes a substitution, with Jeffrey Monakana coming on for Lee Holmes.
74:47 Substitution (Preston) makes a substitution, with Chris Beardsley coming on for Andy Procter.
73:05 Lee Holmes takes the free kick.
73:05 Booking John White is booked.
72:55 John White concedes a free kick for a foul on Graham Cummins.
71:17 Lee Holmes takes a shot.
66:51 Freddie Sears takes the outswinging corner, Thorsten Stuckmann makes a save.
64:34 Joe Garner takes a shot. Sam Walker makes a comfortable save.
63:29 Magnus Okuonghae gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Joe Garner. Direct free kick taken by Nicky Wroe.
61:58 Shot from long distance by John Welsh goes wide of the left-hand upright.
60:49 Jabo Ibehre concedes a free kick for a foul on Nicky Wroe. Thorsten Stuckmann takes the direct free kick.
59:37 Joe Garner challenges George Porter unfairly and gives away a free kick. Sam Walker restarts play with the free kick.
57:46 Direct free kick taken by Thorsten Stuckmann.
57:46 Booking George Porter is given a yellow card.
57:30 Foul by George Porter on David Buchanan, free kick awarded.
56:21 Substitution Brian Wilson leaves the field to be replaced by Tom Eastman.
54:43 Assist on the goal came from Jabo Ibehre.
54:43 GOAL - Freddie Sears:Colchester 1 - 0 Preston Freddie Sears finds the net with a goal from close range low into the middle of the goal. Colchester 1-0 Preston.
52:15 Effort from inside the area by Freddie Sears misses to the right of the target.
50:34 The assistant referee signals for offside against Gavin Massey. Thorsten Stuckmann takes the indirect free kick.
47:48 Freddie Sears produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty area which goes wide of the right-hand post.
45:43 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Freddie Sears, save made by Thorsten Stuckmann.
45:01 The second half kicks off.
45:00+1:38 The ref blows to end the first period.
45:00+0:53 The assistant referee signals for offside against Jabo Ibehre. Free kick taken by Thorsten Stuckmann.
42:54 Header from close in by Joe Garner misses to the right of the target.
42:18 Inswinging corner taken by Lee Holmes from the right by-line.
41:35 David Buchanan has shot on goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
39:53 Foul by David Buchanan on George Porter, free kick awarded. Billy Clifford restarts play with the free kick.
38:39 Billy Clifford restarts play with the free kick.
38:39 Booking Chris Robertson shown a yellow card.
38:30 Unfair challenge on Freddie Sears by Chris Robertson results in a free kick.
34:22 Foul by Andy Procter on Billy Clifford, free kick awarded. Billy Clifford takes the direct free kick.
33:19 Nicky Wroe takes the inswinging corner, Josh Thompson manages to make a clearance.
31:37 Nicky Wroe produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the net.
29:28 Josh Thompson challenges Joe Garner unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct strike on goal from the free kick comes in
from Nicky Wroe, save by Sam Walker.
28:40 Unfair challenge on Bailey Wright by Jabo Ibehre results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Thorsten Stuckmann.
28:06 Gavin Massey takes a shot. Blocked by Paul Connolly.
26:06 Gavin Massey produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that bounces off the post.
25:32 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Freddie Sears from the right by-line, John Welsh makes a clearance.
24:41 Billy Clifford concedes a free kick for a foul on Lee Holmes. Direct free kick taken by Thorsten Stuckmann.
23:23 Joe Garner takes a shot. Josh Thompson gets a block in.
21:59 Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Nicky Wroe, save by Sam Walker.
21:26 Gavin Massey takes a shot. Blocked by Paul Connolly.
21:02 Free kick awarded for a foul by Chris Robertson on Jabo Ibehre. David Wright restarts play with the free kick.
20:25 Jabo Ibehre is caught offside. Thorsten Stuckmann restarts play with the free kick.
19:39 Foul by David Buchanan on George Porter, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Magnus Okuonghae.
17:58 Freddie Sears takes a shot. Save by Thorsten Stuckmann.
17:05 Lee Holmes is ruled offside. Sam Walker takes the free kick.
16:10 The assistant referee flags for offside against Jabo Ibehre. Thorsten Stuckmann takes the indirect free kick.
15:22 Shot by George Porter from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.
14:22 Magnus Okuonghae is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Indirect free kick taken by Thorsten Stuckmann.
13:43 Freddie Sears takes a inswinging corner.
12:49 Corner taken by Freddie Sears, clearance made by Bailey Wright.
10:10 Joe Garner takes a shot. Comfortable save by Sam Walker.
9:23 Graham Cummins takes a shot. Save by Sam Walker.
4:20 Joe Garner takes a shot. Blocked by Josh Thompson. Corner taken by Nicky Wroe, Andy Procter takes a shot. Sam Walker makes
a save. Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Lee Holmes, Sam Walker makes a save.
1:27 Paul Connolly concedes a free kick for a foul on Gavin Massey. Billy Clifford takes the direct free kick.
0:00 The referee gets the match started.
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