HARTLEPOOL United were sunk by a late Colchester United winner at the Suit Direct Stadium but stayed out of League Two’s relegation zone.
Sub Alex Newby forced the U’s winner over the home line on 87 minutes, just five minutes after Jamie Sterry equalised Fiacre Kelleher’s early goal for the away team.
However, Pools remained 22nd after Gillingham let a two-goal half-time lead slip at Swindon, where they drew 3-3.
Pools boss Keith Curle handed a debut to Tayt Trusty, signed from Blackpool on Friday, and made a second change with Jamie Sterry returning for the injured Rollin Menayese, with Dan Dodds moving into the back three.
The defence looked vulnerable early on to a cross from the left and were beaten by a free-kick from the other side in the fifth minute.
Pools seemed unable to react to Connor Wood’s ball into the sea and Kelleher stabbed home.
It was almost two on 20 minutes but Ben Killip made a tremendous diving save to his right to keep out Connor Hall’s header.
Pools suffered two injury set-backs in the first half with both Jack Hamilton and Peter Hartley limping off.
Curle threw on striker Mikael Ndjoli, who was making first appearance in three months, while Mo Sylla came on in midfield with Matty Dolan switching to the centre off defence.
Pools only made U’s keeper Kieran O’Hara work once in the first period, making a good save low to his left to beat out a left-foot shot by Josh Umerah.
The hosts looked a little better after the break and Dodds had a pop at goal from 30 yards but was unable to repeat his magic from last Saturday and his shot went wide.
Umerah came close to bringing Pools level on 63 minutes when his strong shot was well saved by O’Hara, with Sterry unable to get to the rebound.
Curle sent Wes McDonald and Jake Haste on as Pools launched a late assault.
O’Hara first made a good save from Ndjoli, following good work by Sylla, but Pools kept knocking on the door, with Sterry scoring from six yards.
It left Pools eight minutes to, potentially, find a winner.
However, parity lasted only five minutes.
Killip made two point-blank saves but sub Newby forced the loose ball over the line, just, to put the U’s back in front.
Despite lengthy stoppages and blatant Colchester time-wasting, only six minutes were added and rthe visitors saw them out with little fuss.
Pools: Killip; Dodds, Hartley (Sylla 36), Pruti. Sterry, Featherstone, Dolan (McDonald 75), Trusty (Hastie 75), Ferguson; Umerah, Hamilton (Ndjoli 23)
Subs (not used): Stolarczyk, Murray, Niang
Booked: Pruti 13, Featherstone 80
Colchester: O’Hara; Chambers, Kelleher, Hall; Tchamadeu, Chilvers (Akinde 65), Skuse, Read (Newby 84), Wood; Tovide (Jay 54), Hopper (Ashley 84).
Subs (not used): Hornby, Greenidge, Fevrier
Goals: Kelleher 5, Newby 87
Booked: Tchamadeu 90
Referee: Simon Mather (Att: 4,105, away 196 )