Craig Eastmond was carried off with an ankle injury as Colchester United beat Heybridge Swifts 2-1 in their opening pre-season friendly.

Eastmond, who joined the U’s on a free transfer this summer after leaving Arsenal, fell victim to a heavy challenge by Swifts defender Ryan Doyle, on the edge of the Heybridge area.

U’s boss Joe Dunne and his players were left furious by Doyle’s challenge, which resulted in Eastmond being stretchered off and Doyle being immediately substituted by Swifts manager, Mark Hawkes.

Eastmond’s injury soured the U’s win at Scraley Road, against a competitive Heybridge side.

Colchester, who fielded the likes of Jabo Ibehre, Gavin Massey and Marcus Bean in the first half, predictably enjoyed most of the possession against their non-league opponents.

But in truth, Swifts goalkeeper Peter Haxall had few meaningful saves to make before the break.

Freddie Sears slotted wide of an open goal in the opening minutes and Jabo Ibehre’s shot flashed wide, soon after.

But Swifts were certainly not without their chances and they went ahead midway through the first half through Ben Newson’s smartly-taken low strike, after Luke Callander’s pass had opened up the U’s defence.

Doyle’s challenge on Eastmond then soured the atmosphere of the game somewhat, with the U’s players and coaching staff furious at the nature of the tackle.

After Jordan Sanderson had replaced the stricken Eastmond, skipper Brian Wilson curled the resultant free-kick just wide and Colchester went in at the break trailing.

The U’s fielded a completely different side in the second half, with the likes of Magnus Okuonghae, Clinton Morrison and David Wright all featuring.

The level of Colchester’s performance certainly improved after half-time and they were back on level terms just before the hour when John-Joe O’Toole finished smartly, converting a first-time shot from Drey Wright’s short pass.

U’s goalkeeper Shaun Phillips almost allowed Callander’s hopeful shot to roll in soon after but Colchester went ahead with 18 minutes to go through Drey Wright, who took his goal well after being picked out by David Wright in the area.

And that proved to be enough to give the U’s victory in their opening pre-season friendly of the summer, a win that was overshadowed by Eastmond’s injury.

Colchester United (first half): Cousins, O’Donoghue, Kent, Eastman, Wilson, Izzet, Eastmond (sub Sanderson, 40), Bean, Massey, Sears, Ibehre.

Substitute (not used): Ladapo.

Colchester United (second half): Phillips, David Wright, Okuonghae, Olufemi, O’Toole, Bond, Duguid, Drey Wright, Cook, Morrison.