Colchester United got back to winning ways in style in League Two with a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Crawley Town this afternoon.

First-half goals from Sammie Szmodics, Ryan Jackson and Mikael Mandron gave the U's a 3-0 lead at half-time.

And although Jimmy Smith pulled a goal back just after the hour and keeper Sam Walker saved Mark Randall's penalty, Colchester went on to claim their first-ever victory over Crawley in ten attempts.

Colchester head coach John McGreal made four changes to his starting line-up for their home game against Crawley.

He handed debuts to three players who were signed on transfer deadline day, with Ryan Inniss, Brandon Comley and Nicke Kabamba all starting after joining the U’s on loan.

Inniss started in the centre of defence, with Kent switching to the U’s left-sided centre-back.

There was also a recall for Jackson at right wing-back, with Drey Wright and Kane Vincent-Young among the substitutes and Kyel Reid missing out after failing to shake off a hip injury, while Sean Murray was not in the 18 because of injury.

Colchester once again started brightly at home and played some excellent possession football in the opening stages.

And they were ahead in the ninth minute.

After good link-up play between Mikael Mandron and Kabamba in the Crawley half, Jackson was able to deliver a cross which Szmodics volleyed home for his fourth goal in eight games.

And Colchester doubled their lead in the 14th minute through Jackson, who scored his first goal for the club after finding space on the right flank and slamming the ball past keeper Glenn Morris and in after excellent play by Szmodics had set him up.

Colchester cut through a fragile-looking Crawley defence at will at times and Szmodics curled a shot over the bar, after Kabamba had battled well to set him up.

The U’s did extend their lead seven minutes before the break when Frankie Kent headed Comley’s cross back across goal and Mandron dived to head home from two yards.

Crawley’s best chance of the first half came three minutes before half-time when Inniss and Tom Eastman combined superbly to prevent Panutche Camara’s shot from creeping over the line.

But Colchester keeper Walker was rarely troubled before half-time, when they made a change bringing on Cameron James for Kent.

The U’s came close to making it 4-0 soon after the break when Inniss’s towering header was cleared off the line while Morris saved from Comley soon after, as the hosts pressed for further goals.

But Walker turned away substitute Dennon Lewis’s low strike before Crawley were awarded a penalty after Inniss was adjudged to have fouled Josh Yorwerth in the area.

But Walker saved Mark Randall’s spot-kick and Lewis Kinsella almost rubbed further salt into the wound soon after when he headed just wide from Jackson’s cross.

Morris pushed away Szmodics' goalbound effort just after the hour before Jimmy Smith poked home from ten yards in a congested area following a corner to give Crawley hope, midway through the second half.

Walker saved brilliantly with his legs to deny Smith after Boldewijn had done well to set him up with 13 minutes remaining and then denied the same player soon after, as the visitors pressed for a second.

But Colchester were untroubled after that, as they secured a second home league win on the bounce.