Accrington Stanley chalked up a valuable 2-1 win in their battle to beat the drop despite being reduced to 10 men against promotion-chasing Colchester.
The Reds took the lead in the 18th minute when Sean McConville played in a ball from the left to unmarked striker Billy Kee 10 yards out and he smashed the ball home for his 12th goal of the season.
Colchester, already struggling with injuries, were forced to make an early substitution when striker Denny Johnstone hobbled off with a knee problem on 25 minutes, Chris Porter replacing him.
And it was Stanley who struck again when Shay McCartan's 25-yard free-kick was turned around the post by keeper Sam Walker and, from the resulting McConville corner, defender Matty Pearson powered home a header.
Colchester rarely threatened but they were given a lifeline when defender Omar Beckles brought down Brennan Dickenson who was charging through on 45 minutes and referee Richard Clark produced the red card.
United boss John McGreal made a double substitution at half-time but the 10 men of Stanley continued to press for the third.
McCartan ran clean through on the hour after the referee waved advantage following a foul on Kee but the frontman fired agonisingly wide with only Walker to beat.
Colchester were back in it on 76 minutes when McConville fouled sub Drey Wright in the area and Porter scored the resulting penalty.
Defender George Elokobi could have levelled on 81 minutes but his overhead kick was deflected just over the bar while Porter came close and Kurtis Guthrie glanced a header wide in the final minutes.