Steven Gillespie's brace helped Colchester ease past Preston North End.
The visitors had a Chris Robertson effort ruled out for offside while George Miller's fine strike cannoned off the underside of the crossbar.
But Gillespie got the opener when he poked in Anthony Wordsworth's header from close range.
Gillespie made it 2-0 from the spot after Paul Coutts handled Brian Wilson's cross, Andy Bond then neatly finished off Ian Henderson's pass.
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Colchester United manager John Ward told BBC Essex:
"I think that's as good a victory as we've had, particularly here. You've seen the reaction from both the team and the supporters at the end of it."
"We've had to fight, we've had to work and its been a very physical afternoon, but we stood up to that, we haven't been bullied."
"When we've had the opportunity, we've played our bits of good football, and that final goal is the real icing on the cake."
"The way we moved and played and broke, that's really pleasing because that's something we are trying hard to do."