Crawley Town’s two-game winning run came to an end with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Colchester United.
Harry Kewell’s side suffered an early double blow and were 2-0 down in the first 14 minutes through goals by Sammie Szmodics and Ryan Jackson.
Reds then trailed 3-0 just before half-time through a headed goal by Mikael Mandron.
Crawley improved in the second half but spurned the opportunity to grab what would have been a fine point given the circumstances.
Reds had a penalty saved before skipper Jimmy Smith pulled a goal back with 26 minutes to go to give his side hope of staging a late comeback.
But despite creating some late chances, Reds had to accept their first ever defeat by Colchester in ten meetings.
Reds made one change to the side which won against Swindon and Yeovil with triple goalscorer Jordan Roberts rested as a precuation after suffering a knock.
He was replaced with Mark Randall as Harry Kewell went with a 4-5-1 formation with Enzio Boldewijn as the loan striker.
Reds emerged from the second half having made two substitutions as striker Ibrahim Meite, fully recovered from concussion and Dennon Lewis replaced Panutche Camara and Cedric Evina.
Colchester also made a change at half-time with Cameron James coming on for Kent, then soon afterwards Kane Vincent-Young replaced Lewis Kinsella.
United made four changes to the team which beat Forest Green Rovers 5-1 with three new signings making their debut on loan following a flurry in transfer activity on deadline day.
They were striker Nicke Kabamba from Portsmouth, Brandon Comley from QPR and Ryan Inniss from Crystal Palace.
Colchester took the lead in the ninth minute when Ryan Jackson sent in a nice cross to Szmodics who volleyed in from close-range off the post.
Just five minutes later and Reds were 2-0 down when Szmodics laid off a ball to Jackson who fired a powerful blast into the net.
Both sides received bookings for challenges, United’s Lewis Kinsella for bringing down Panutche Camara and Dean Cox for a late tackle on Tom Lapslie.
The Us gained a seeemingly unassailable 3-0 lead just on 38 minutes when Comley combined with Frankie Kent who headed on to Mandron, whose diving header beat Glenn Morris.
Colchester forced a good save by keeper Glenn Morris when he pushed a shot by Szmodics wide for a corner.
Reds missed a chance to go 3-1 on 52 minutes when Randall had a penalty saved after Inniss fouled Josh Yorwerth.
Kewell made his third change of the afternoon when he brought on new signing Josh Doherty to make his debut in place of Randall.
Smith pulled a goal back when he poked a corner ball into the net, giving Reds some late hope of a recovery.
Colchester’s Jackson had a go from 25 yards which flew wide and the Us also Mandron had another effort deflected over the bar.
Crawley created a good chance with Boldewewijn setting up Smith, but his shot was saved, before Smith had another chance which was also saved by keeper Sam Walker.
Cox went so close with a ball across the six-yard box, but no-one could get on the end of it to put it way.
Players from both sides were involved in some pushing and shoving in a melee which led to yellow cards for Crawley’s Lewis and United’s Tom Lapslie as Kewell’s side played out a lively five added minutes but could not find the net again.
REDS (4-5-1): Morris, Evina (Lewis 46), Young, Yorwerth, Lelan, Randall (Doherty 64), Cox, Boldewijn, Smith, Bulman, Camara (Meite 46)
Unused subs: Mersin, Djalo, Tajbakhsh, McNerney
COLCHESTER (3-5-2): Walker, Jackson, Kinsella (Vncent-Young 57), Lapslie, Kent (James 46), Szmodics, Comley, Kabamba (Wright 70), Eastman, Mandron, Inniss
Unused subs: Gilmartin, Hanlan, O’Sullivan, Odelusi
REFEREE: Mr G Horwood
ATTENDANCE: 2,923 (188 away)