Two goals from Shola Ameobi saw Notts County claim a third win on the bounce and dent Colchester's play-off hopes with a 3-1 win at Meadow Lane.
The Magpies made their intentions clear from the start as Adam Campbell shot wide before Haydn Hollis opened the scoring after Ameobi hit the woodwork.
It was no more than Kevin Nolan's side deserved for a brilliant opening, but they were pegged back in the 21st minute when Chris Porter lashed in a superb equaliser.
But Notts were soon back on the front foot and after Jorge Grant went close, Ameobi restored the lead with a thumping effort from the edge of the box.
Colchester were sent out early for the second half, but they couldn't stop the hosts who should have made it 3-1 when Grant's cutback was turned wide by Jon Stead.
The third goal came in the 73rd minute as Grant's pinpoint free-kick was headed in by Ameobi as Notts cruised to a win that moves them well away from any relegation danger.