Colchester head coach John McGreal hailed his side’s best performance of the season as they swept aside Sky Bet League Two promotion rivals Plymouth in a 3-0 win.
The Essex side had seen their proud 16-match unbeaten run unceremoniously halted at Cambridge last Saturday.
However, they responded in the best possible fashion with three goals in a dynamic, free-flowing first-half performance.
Ben Stevenson and Theo Robinson, with a brace, did the damage and they also hit the woodwork through Brandon Comley and Callum Harriott.
A delighted McGreal said: “It was a brilliant result. We wanted a reaction and to improve on our performance last week.
“Goals change games but I thought we were on the front foot even before we scored our first.
“We took our opportunities, got a good lead and could have scored a couple more. We hit the woodwork twice and had one cleared off the line.
“It was our top performance of the season, without a shadow of a doubt.
“Plymouth went into the game in such form, having won five out of six. They’ve shot right up the table and won their awards this week.
“They’ve come with a huge following from a long way but it was a great day for us.
“We can draw a lot of confidence from the performance but whereas last week we only lost three points, this week we only gained three points.
“Theo came off disappointed not to get a hat-trick but I’m sure if you’d offered him a couple of goals against the form team, he would have been delighted.
“He can be really pleased with his performance, as can others.”
Stevenson swept Colchester into an early lead after a neat cut-back from Harriott.
And Robinson doubled their advantage on the half-hour mark, gleefully nodding home from close range after a cross by Frank Nouble.
Six minutes later, it was 3-0. Harry Pell nicked the ball off a defender and Robinson found himself in on goal before confidently slotting past goalkeeper Alex Palmer.
Colchester nearly added to their lead in a breathless first half against opposition that started the day in the automatic promotion places.
Comley saw a driven shot clip the top of the Pilgrims’ crossbar, while Harriott worked space for himself on the right but saw his low shot pushed onto the post by Palmer.
Plymouth boss Ryan Lowe said: “We just weren’t at it in the first half. I’m disappointed with the goals we conceded but also need to give Colchester credit.
“We haven’t had many games like that and my lads have been terrific.
“There were a few home truths afterwards but we need to make sure we get back on that bike, because today we fell off it.
“It won’t define our season. No chance. It’s a blip – one loss – and we’ve conceded three stupid goals. But the lads know that and that’s football.
“Colchester are a good team and they’ve only lost twice here all season.
“John McGreal’s got them well organised and they do the right things but we fell short.
“The second half was a lot better and we were more solid, but sometimes you have off days like that. We had an off 45 minutes.”