A stoppage-time header from Ryan Yates condemned Colchester United to a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat at Meadow Lane this afternoon.

The U's thought they had secured a point after substitute Sanmi Odelusi struck a low shot home three minutes after coming off the bench.

But Yates stooped to head home from close range from a corner to leave Colchester empty-handed and end their six-game league unbeaten run.

Mikael Mandron had earlier had a spot-kick saved by Magpies keeper Ross Fitzsimons with 12 minutes to go having conceded the penalty ten minutes earlier that led to Shola Ameobi putting the hosts ahead.

U’s head coach John McGreal made one change to his side at Notts County.

Brandon Comley started in place of Doug Loft, who injured his shoulder in the U’s 1-0 win over Lincoln City in midweek.

Cameron James was named among the substitutes, following Comley’s promotion to Colchester’s starting line-up.

But Sean Murray, Brennan Dickenson, Kurtis Guthrie and Luke Prosser remained sidelined.

Colchester started positively and Mandron fired a left foot shot into the side netting early on, after a good period of pressure.

Drey Wright had plenty of the ball in the opening stages, picking up pockets of space in the hosts’ half and running at their defence.

He went close when he picked up Comley’s pass just inside the Notts County half and advanced towards goal before dragging a low shot wide.

The closest Colchester came to scoring in the first half came in the 19th minute when Tom Eastman deflected Mandron’s seemingly goalbound free header wide from Comley’s corner and a good chance went begging.

But on a chilly day, Notts County began to warm to the task after that and began to show evidence of why they went into the game sitting joint top of League Two.

Yates’ 25-yard strike flew over the bar after a good Notts County build-up, while on the half hour Lewis Alessandra’s low side-footed effort from the edge of the area flew straight at U’s keeper Sam Walker, after Shola Ameobi had picked him out.

Yates almost pounced to score in the six yard box only for Eastman to recover well and make a crucial challenge to avert the danger, seven minutes before the break.

And Eastman made another crucial intervention before the first half was out when his vital header inside his own area denied Alessandra, after Ameobi had picked him out with a cross.

The sides went in goal-less at the break but Notts County started the second half well and almost took the lead just before the hour when a brilliant block by Frankie Kent in the area denied Lewis Alessandra what looked a certain goal, following Matt Tootle's dangerous pass.

County went close again two minutes later when Walker made a smart low save to deny Carl Dickenson’s drive that had sailed through a crowded area after Jorge Grant’s effort was blocked.

And Colchester's resistance was finally broken midway through the second half when Ameobi slammed home from the penalty spot, after Yates had been fouled by Mandron in the area.

It was the first time Colchester had conceded in the league in more than six and a half hours and in truth, it was no more than the hosts' deserved, for their second-half display.

But the U's were given a golden opportunity to equalise from the spot themselves ten minutes later when Ryan Jackson was fouled in the area by Jorge Grant.

However, Mandron's low penalty was saved down to his left by County keeper Ross Fitzsimons and Colchester's chance of an equaliser was gone.

Odelusi finished smartly to equalise in the final minute of normal time but Yates struck deep into stoppage-time, to leave the U's empty-handed.