A goal on debut by Ben Stevenson and another from Tom Eastman ensured Newport County AFC suffered back-to-back league defeats for the first time in a year following a 2-0 loss at Colchester United.
Both goals came in a second-half that followed a somewhat slow opening 45 minutes, ex-Exile Ryan Jackson having the only chance of note by forcing a finger-tip save from County goalkeeper Joe Day with a thunderous attempt from 25 yards.
But Colchester started the second-half with strong intent and found their opener through Wolves loanee Stevenson on 59 minutes.
Striker Courtney Senior did superbly well to run the length of the pitch and skip past at-least five challenges following a County corner, before being unselfish and setting up Stevenson with the simplest of tasks to tap home from two yards.
And that lead was duly doubled with ten minutes to go to take the game away from County with another close-ranged finish by Tom Eastman.
Mikael Mandron did well to rise highest from a County corner to power a header towards goal, with Mickey Demetriou only able to deflect the ball into Eastman’s path to slide home the second goal.
The defeat means County drop to 11th and are leapfrogged by Colchester United on goal-difference, while slipping five points behind the play-off positions in the process.
Mike Flynn elected to make two changes to his side that suffered a first defeat of the year against Lincoln City on Tuesday.
That saw Mark O’Brien able to return after missing the game at Sincil Bank through illness, with Scot Bennett dropping to the bench in place of the Irishman.
Tyler Reid also came in to the team for his first competitive start for the Exiles since joining on loan from Swansea City, replacing Ben White who missed just his third league game of the campaign through injury.
Those changes still saw the Exiles line-up in a 4-3-3 system from the off in Essex, as County looked to regain some points on the play-off positions following Tuesday's defeat.
Colchester United manager John McGreal made three changes to his side that drew 2-2 with Port Vale last weekend.
Interestingly, those three inclusions were all the players who came on at Vale Park during the game.
Luke Prosser came in for the only defensive change, starting in a game for the first time in 15 months in the process, as Tom Lapslie moved to the bench.
Brandon Comley came into the midfield in place of Drey Wright, while Kurtis Guthrie became the final change as he replaced Sammie Szmodics up-front.
The U’s set-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation from the off at the Weston Homes Community Stadium and arguably made the brighter start although no clear-cut chances were created in the first 15 minutes.
Sean Murray flashed a shot narrowly over Joe Day’s crossbar, with Courtney Senior and Kurtis Guthrie also seeing shots blocked wide by O’Brien.
Ben Tozer created County’s first opportunity after 21 minutes, although didn’t quite get the right connection to the ball from a corner delivery and it sailed over the crossbar.
Those were the only chances of note up until the final five minutes of the first-half when both teams each had a good chance to go back to the dressing rooms in-front.
Reid played a superb through ball into the path of Nouble on the right-hand side, who did well to control the ball just before the touch-line.
Home goalkeeper Sam Walker had mis-read the pass and was left stranded outside his six-yard area once Nouble had controlled, but the pass to Labadie was well cut out by Prosser and the home side survived.
And the U’s could have taken the lead at the start of the two additional minutes of added time, as Ryan Jackson again looked to score past his former club after finding the net at Rodney Parade back in October.
The right-back was found in space on the edge-of-the-area, before unleashing a wicked shot which required a slight touch from Day to keep it from creeping into the far corner.
That brought proceedings to a close after a slow opening 45 minutes, neither side particularly getting a foothold on the game at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
You would have to say that the home side were dealing well with the Ben Tozer long throw-in, McGreal electing to play a host of tall players to nullify the threat from those lethal deliveries.
The Exiles were also performing well from a defensive perspective, Day only having to produce one save of note so he would have been mightily pleased with his defence in the first-half.
But the U’s began the second-half as the quicker team again at home, Jackson and Mandron both denied early-on as they went searching for their first win since a Boxing Day triumph at Crawley Town.
The writing was on the wall for the Exiles as the home side showed no signs of easing their pressure and duly found a deserved opener after 59 minutes.
Senior superbly ran virtually the length of the pitch in a counter-attack from a County corner, before laying the chance on a place for Ben Stevenson to cleverly flick home a goal on his debut from a close angle.
The midfielder, on loan from Championship leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers until the end of the season, almost had his second shortly after, but couldn’t quite find the target this time from long range.
Mandron should have doubled the U’s lead with 20 minutes remaining after yet another fast charge from a County attack, only to hit the stanchion behind the goal with the goal at his mercy.
County almost made the home side pay for their misfiring through a chance of their own with 15 minutes to go, but Nouble couldn’t get on the end of a header from substitute Paul Hayes as the ball trickled narrowly past the near post.
The chances kept on coming for Colchester after more good work from Mandron, only for Guthrie to somewhat buckle under the pressure of a retreating Mickey Demetriou and allow Day to collect.
But they would finally break the County resistance for a second time with ten minutes to go through defender Tom Eastman.
Mandron was involved again with a looping header from a corner, the ball ricocheting off Demetriou into the path of Eastman, who slid home a second for the U’s from close range.
Mandron almost got in on the act himself with two minutes to go, forcing a strong save from Day with a powerful attempt about 25-yards out and through a host of bodies.
County fought valiantly during the five minutes of additional time in an attempt to find a way back into the contest, but Colchester held out well to ensure County’s winless run against the home side since 1981 continues for another season.
County: Day, Reid (Osadebe 74’), O’Brien, Demetriou, Butler, Dolan (McCoulsky 62’), Tozer, Labadie (C), Nouble, Amond (Hayes 58’), Willmott
Subs not used: Bittner, Pipe, Bennett, Sheehan
Colchester: Walker, Eastman, Kent, Prosser, Jackson, Comley, Murray (Stevenson 49’), Vincent-Young, Senior (Szmodics 73’), Guthrie (Ogedi-Uzokwe 87’), Mandron
Subs not used: Gilmartin, Lapslie, Wright, Mandeville
Referee: Gavin Ward
Attendance: 2,874 (184 AWAY)
Next up for County: Tottenham Hotspur (7th February 2018) AWAY