Colchester United 1 Leyton Orient 0
Visiting Leyton Orient are going in the opposite direction but they blew a great chance to at least grab a point at the Community Stadium.
The visitors were handed a lifeline in the 55th minute when the assistant referee spotted a handball by skipper Dean Hammond in the box, so persuading referee Graham Scott to award a penalty.
However, O's striker Adam Boyd saw his well-struck penalty superbly beaten away by keeper Jimmy Walker, who has been in fine form since his loan move from West Ham.
By contrast, the U's had proved deadly from the spot in the first half and it was Stephen Gillespie's 38th minute penalty that wrapped up all three points.
A string of injuries had restricted Gillespie's appearances since his summer move from Cheltenham, and he was making his first start for more than nine weeks following a hamstring injury.
But the ex-Cheltenham striker did not look rusty in the least and he had no hesitation in taking the penalty after Orient defender Tamika Mkandawire was adjudged to have handled inside the box.
Gillespie sent keeper Glen Morris the wrong way to chalk up his fourth goal of the season, but his first in the League since his brace on the opening day of the campaign at Hartlepool
This was only Gillespie's fifth league start of the season and he will be now looking to kick-start his career during the second half of this term as the U's mount a late dash for the play-offs.
Referee Mr Scott certainly made a name for himself as he dished out 12 cards, 11 yellow and one red.
He sent off Orient midfielder Sean Thornton for a second bookable offence in the 82nd minute, after he clashed off the ball with Colchester defender Alan Maybury.
That was the last straw for Orient and the home side nearly scored a second late-on when David Perkins hit the post with a close-range header.