HARRY Pell's stoppage-time header earned Colchester United a dramatic 1-0 win over Salford City following a tightly-contested affair at the JobServe Community Stadium.

Pell nodded in from Frank Nouble's flick-on following Cohen Bramall's corner in the third minute of stoppage-time to earn the U's all three points.

Colchester head coach John McGreal made two changes to his starting line-up for their game against Salford.

Dean Gerken and Luke Norris came back into the side following the 2-1 defeat against Stevenage in the Leasing.com Trophy.

Goalkeeper Ethan Ross dropped to the bench and there was no place in the 18 for Callum Harriott but Ben Stevenson was among the substitutes after recovering from a back problem.

Colchester were the better side in the first half and had the bulk of the possession but were unable to find a way past a well-organised Salford side before the break.

Courtney Senior looked sharp in the first half and his 12th-minute fizzing first-time shot flew wide of the far post from the edge of the box after skipper Luke Prosser had nodded down Ryan Jackson’s ball into the area.

Senior and Kwame Poku looked the most likely to unlock the door for Colchester in a tight first half with their trickery and guile.

And although Lois Maynard’s long-range effort deflected into the arms of Gerken just before the half hour, Salford rarely threatened.

Cohen Bramall’s 25-yard free-kick dipped just over the bar for the U’s shortly after the half hour mark and the hosts finished the first half strongly.

Poku’s first-time shot sailed straight at keeper Chris Neal after Frank Nouble had beaten Oscar Threlkeld in the area and picked him out.

Just before half-time, Brandon Comley’s low 25-yard effort was somehow kept out by the diving Neal and seconds later, Harry Pell’s long-range dipping strike sailed inches over the bar as the U’s went in goal-less at the break.

The half-time interval came at the wrong time for Colchester who had built up a momentum, in the latter stages of the first half.

And the U’s almost fell behind early in the second period when Richard Towell slotted a glorious chance wide from the edge of the area after some sloppy play by the U’s saw them give the ball away in a dangerous area.

Salford had an effort disallowed midway through the second half when Towell's shot was saved by Gerken and Luke Armstrong tapped in from an offside position.

But Colchester squandered a glorious chance when Norris dispossessed Cameron Burgess and advanced into the Salford area before drilling a low shot wide of the far post.

Senior’s effort flashed inches wide from the edge of the area and substitute Theo Robinson also went close before the end.

Cohen Bramall's low and fierce cross was beaten away by Neal.

But just when it looked like the game would finish in a draw, Pell nodded in from five yards to secure Colchester a last-gasp win.