COLCHESTER United completed the season on a winning note this afternoon after claiming a deserved victory at Hartlepool United.

Chay Cooper came off the bench to score a superb long-range strike on his league debut, after John Akinde had given the U’s the lead in the first half.

It was a fine way for Wayne Brown and his team to finish the campaign, ending with a points return of ten points from a possible 12 in front of nearly 300 Colchester fans.

Colchester made two changes to their starting line-up for the game at Hartlepool.

John Akinde made his first start since March 26 and Junior Tchamadeu also started, in place of injured duo Myles Kenlock and Emyr Huws.

There were also a number of youngsters on the bench for the U’s.

Colchester almost made the worst possible start when Sam Hornby had to dive bravely at Luke Molyneux’s feet and avert a dangerous opportunity for the hosts.

The U’s goalkeeper appeared to hurt his right hand in the process but thankfully, did not require treatment.

But in an open start to the contest, Colchester almost scored in the sixth-minute when Akinde’s deflected effort whistled just wide, after Cameron Coxe had initially been denied by Hartlepool keeper Ben Killip at his near post.

And the U’s were ahead in the ninth-minute through Akinde, who coolly slotted a low shot home from close range after Freddie Sears had done well to set up the chance.

It continued to be an open encounter and Hartlepool almost got themselves back into the game in the 20th minute when David Ferguson’s left-footed was well cleared by Tommy Smith from inside his own six-yard box.

Hornby made a standard save at his near post to push away Molyneux’s effort, before the hosts had a penalty appeal rejected nine minutes before the break when Molyneux tumbled under Luke Chambers’ challenge in the area.

But Noah Chilvers' first-time effort was pushed away well by Killip in first-half stoppage-time, as Colchester went in at the break ahead.

The U’s made a change at half-time, sending youngster Chay Cooper on for his league debut in place of Alan Judge.

Akinde had the ball in the Hartlepool net again in the opening minutes of the second half after combining well with Sears but the effort was ruled out for offside.

But Colchester doubled their lead in the 53rd minute – and what a strike it was.

Cooper collected the ball from Sears in a central position 25 yards from goal and with the Pools defence standing off him, the youngster let fly with a wonderful strike that flew past Killip.

The quality of the strike was so good that it drew applause from the Hartlepool fans as well as the jubilant Colchester supporters, behind the goal.

The U’s were in complete control after that, although Olufela Olomola did fire a shot into the side netting for Pools.

Kaan Bennett was sent on for his debut for Colchester, with fellow academy youngster and fellow debutant Bradley Ihionvein following him, soon after.

Hornby made a fine save with 15 minutes to go to push away Molyneux’s fierce goalbound effort at his near post.

And the U’s keeper was out quickly a few seconds later to avert the danger from the lurking Molyneux, after Cameron Coxe had under-hit a backpass.

Hornby made another fantastic save to foil Molyneux, pushing the striker’s effort over for a corner.

With five minutes remaining, Hornby then denied substitute Martin Smith and Tommy Smith cleared off the line but Colchester kept the hosts out.

Killip denied Bennett with his feet in stoppage-time but Colchester comfortably saw out victory to record a third win in four matches to end the season.

MATCH STATS: COLCHESTER UNITED: Hornby, Tchamadeu, Chambers, Smith, Tchamadeu, Wiredu (sub Bennett, 61), Chilvers, Judge (sub Cooper, 46), Hannant, Sears, Akinde (sub Ihionvien, 71).

Subs (not used): Eastman, Cracknell, Kazeem, George.

Hartlepool United: Killip, Sterry (sub Ogle, 40) Hull, Liddle (sub Smith, 73), Odusina, Ferguson, Featherstone, Crawford, Olomola, Bogle (sub Carver, 68), Molyneux.

Subs (not used): Bilokapic.

Referee: Ben Toner.

Bookings: Colchester: Smith (foul, 79). Hartlepool: Hull (foul, 90).

Sending off: None.

Goals: Colchester: Akinde (9), Cooper (53).

U’s man of the match: Sam Hornby.

Attendance: 5,275 (290 U’s fans).