Colchester United 4 Notts. County 1

Colchester United cruised to their biggest win of the season - 4-1 against struggling Notts County at Layer Road - thanks to a cracking hat-trick from striker Craig Fagan.

Relegation-haunted County were never at the races and the home side were good value for this big win.

Fagan, a recent permanent signing from Birmingham City, broke the deadlock after only eight minutes with a terrific solo effort from 20 yards out.

Fagan doubled the tally eight minutes later when he beat defender Ian Richardson for pace before chipping County keeper Stuart Garden to find the roof of the net with a lethal finish.

Colchester could have had more goals in the first half but they did not let up in the second and Fagan completed his hat-trick in the 53rd minute when nodding home from point blank range after Alan White had headed a cross from Gavin Johnson into his path.

It was the first hat-trick of Fagan’s career and it brought his tally for the season up to nine.

Colchester added a fourth goal in the 78th minute when Gareth Williams - on loan from Crystal Palace - capped a memorable move by slotting past keeper Garden.

County pulled a goal back in the 87th minute with skipper Richardson heading home a corner from Stefan Oakes.

There was more drama in stoppage time when County were awarded a penalty, but keeper Simon Brown guessed right to save Paul Heffernan's spot-kick.

Colchester manager Phil Parkinson said: "We have been threatening to do that for some weeks. We played well at Blackpool with out getting the goals but it all came right this afternoon.

“Craig Fagan scored a great hat-trick and I am sure he is on route to being a top class player.

“We were great in the first half and yet we managed to keep it up in the second by continuing to attack and not sit back." Colchester are now unbeaten in five games, while County face a tough test to stay in Division Two. They are second from bottom with just five games left.

County manager Gary Mills said: "I'm very, very disappointed with this performance."