Colchester United kept their League Two play-off hopes alive with a much-needed 1-0 victory over Grimsby Town.

The U's got back to winning ways following a much-improved performance against the Mariners, at the JobServe Community Stadium.

Frank Nouble's ninth goal of the season proved the difference between the two sides in front of a Good Friday crowd of 3,677.

But Colchester's final margin of victory could - and perhaps should - have been more comprehensive, such was their dominant display.

Colchester boss John McGreal made three changes to his side for their game against Grimsby, who went into the game without a win in nine matches.

Dillon Barnes returned in goal for Rene Gilmartin, while Brennan Dickenson and Tom Eastman also returned in place of Mikael Mandron and the injured Luke Prosser.

Colchester, who went into the game having lost five of their previous six matches, were by far the better side in the first half.

Dickenson’s 12th-minute free-kick was pushed away by keeper James McKeown for a corner while a minute later, Eastman's header from corner was nodded off the line by Grayson.

Colchester came even closer to going ahead seconds later through Courtney Senior, whose shot bounced back off a post with McKeown beaten.

Sam Saunders’ deflected shot from just outside the area bounced just wide as the U’s pressed for an opener.

And not long after, Senior lifted a shot well over the bar from close range after good play by Nouble.

Colchester eventually took the lead in the 25th minute, scoring their first goal in nearly three and a half hours of football.

Nouble slotted past McKeown from close range after Szmodics had pounced on Martyn Woolford’s poor defensive pass and set him up.

It was the former West Ham youngster's ninth goal of the season and the first scored by a U’s forward in seven matches, since Nouble netted against Newport on March 9.

Szmodics’ low drive was parried by McKeown with the rebound just evading the on-rushing Nouble, as Colchester went in at half-time ahead.

The U’s started the second half on the front foot and were agonisingly close to doubling their lead, just after the break when stand-in captain Frankie Kent’s spectacular overhead kick was nodded off the line by Jake Hessenthaler.

But just after the hour mark, U's keeper Barnes was called into action for the first time in the match when he parried away Reece Hall-Johnson’s powerful cross from inside his six-yard box.

Colchester made their first change of the afternoon when Mandron was sent on for Dickenson just after the midway point of the second half, with Nouble reverting to a left wing position as a result.

Abo Eisa was then sent on for Senior as the clock ticked down and Szmodics came close to sealing Colchester's win with eight minutes remaining when he was denied by McKeown from close range, having been found by Saunders.

Eisa fired into the side netting for Colchester late on and Grimsby were reduced to ten men in the final seconds when captain Danny Collins picked up a second yellow card, as the hosts saw out the closing minutes to claim a much-needed win.