Exeter City fell to a 3-1 defeat away to Colchester United in Sky Bet League Two.
Two first-half goals from Sammie Szmodics and an own goal in the first-half was enough to take the match away from City who did pull one back through Jayden Stockley in the second-half, but it wasn't enough despite creating a host of chances later in the match.
Match report sponsored by Speed Freight
With the Grecians returning to league action, Paul Tisdale made two changes to the City side that began the dramatic draw in the FA Cup against Forest Green as Reuben Reid and Ryan Harley came in for Jayden Stockley and Liam McAlinden.
The opening exchanges were dominated by the home side with Tom Eastman having a header comfortably saved by Christy Pym before a United break saw Sammie Szmodics shoot from distance, but again the City goalkeeper was equal to it.
City’s first attempt came after 10 minutes when a good cross-field pass from Harley found its way to Reid, and after good link up play with Taylor, the forward shot just wide from a tight angle.
The Grecians then forced a smart save from Sam Walker on 18 minutes after good hold-up play from Reid. Boateng then threaded an excellent ball behind the United defence to Jake Taylor, but with the midfielder shooting across goal, Walker was equal to it as he palmed the ball away.
It was John McGreal’s side who took the lead just two minutes later when Szmodics did well down the right before firing an effort towards goal, but after taking a deflection off a City defender the ball nestled in the far corner.
The home side doubled their lead just six minutes later when they were awarded a penalty after a foul by Taylor on Kane Vincent-Young in the City box. Szmodics then made no mistake from the spot as he beat Pym with a low effort to put United into a commanding lead.
It got worse for City when the forward scored another in what was a horrific ten-minute spell as Szmodics received the ball on the edge of the box before curling the ball past Pym with a smart finish to put the home side further ahead.
Tisdale then made a change of personnel and formation as he introduced Jayden Stockley for Lloyd James as City looked for a way back into the match.
But Colchester continued to put City under pressure, and the lively Szmodics was inches away from grabbing another goal on 40 minutes when the United player was allowed far too much space on the edge of the City box before he unleashed an effort which crashed against Pym’s post.
That meant City went into the dressing room at half-time with much to ponder with the home side well in control of the match.
The second-half began much the same with the home side comfortable in possession and dominating most of the early chances at goal. Brandon Comley had a wayward effort from distance which failed to trouble Pym before City made another change with Kyle Edwards replacing Harley just before the hour mark.
But City were given a lifeline on 63 minutes when a corner from Hiram Boateng found substitute Stockley unmarked in the box and the striker nodded the ball in from close range to claim his third goal in two games.
Moments later, the City bench all rose to their feet to appeal for a penalty when Stockley did well to shield the ball before being pushed from behind and going to ground, but referee Darren Drysdale waved away the claims for a penalty.
As City sprang into life, another chance went begging a couple of minutes later when Boateng went through on goal but could only shoot straight at Walker before Taylor’s follow up went over the Colchester crossbar.
Another City chance for Edwards was well saved by Walker before Szmodics broke well before shooting well over for the home side, who looked to slow the game down as the minutes continued to roll on.
Despite City's efforts they weren't able to force another goal as McGreal's side held out for what was a deserved victory.
Colchester United: Walker, Jackson, Lapslie, Kent, Wright, Szmodics (Odelusi, 88), Comley, Eastman, Mandron, Vincent-Young, Inniss (Murray, 55)
Subs not used: Gilmartin, Kinsella, Reid, Hanlan, Slater
Booked: Kent, Szmodics
Exeter City: Pym, Sweeney, James (30, Stockley), Archibald-Henville, Harley, Moore-Tailor, Moxey (McAlinden, 78), Wilson, Taylor, Reid, Boateng
Subs not used: Hamon, Woodman, Tillson, Stockley, Seaborne
Attendance: 3,049 (Inc, 278, away)