An impressive second-half performance helped Colchester United beat Newport County to chalk up their first win of 2018 and end a six-match winless run in League Two.

Second-half goals from debutant Ben Stevenson and Tom Eastman secured the U's an important win over their promotion rivals, at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Colchester head coach John McGreal made three changes to his starting line-up for the Newport game.

Luke Prosser was handed his first start since November 2016 after being recalled in central defence, while Brandon Comley and Kurtis Guthrie also came back into the team.

Tom Lapslie, Drey Wright and Sammie Szmodics all dropped to the bench, while new loan signings Stevenson and Liam Mandeville were also among the substitutes.

There was little to choose between the two sides, in what was a very even first half.

In the seventh minute, Sean Murray’s rasping 25-yard drive flew over the bar but there was little in the way of goalmouth action for either side in the first half.

Much of the contest was played out in midfield but in the closing minutes of the first half, the returning Prosser makes two key blocks in his own area in quick succession to prevent Newport's goalbound shots from heading towards goal.

Colchester almost took the lead just before the break when former Newport defender Ryan Jackson’s fierce effort deflected inches wide of the far post.

But the first half finished goal-less and the U's were forced into a change in the opening minutes of the second period when Murray picked up an injury and was replaced by debutant Stevenson, signed on loan from Wolves on transfer deadline day.

Kane Vincent-Young came close to scoring when he found space in the Newport area before driving in a low shot that forced keeper Joe Day to make his first save of the match.

But Colchester did go ahead just before the hour when Stevenson, who had only been on the pitch for ten minutes, tapped in from close range after Courtney Senior had driven towards goal and picked him out.

Mika Mandron fired a good chance over with 20 minutes remaining after being picked out by the impressive Senior but Newport still threatened, with substitute Paul Hayes glancing just wide.

However, after Kurtis Guthrie had squandered a good chance Colchester doubled their advantage with ten minutes remaining.

Eastman poked the ball home at the far post for his second goal of the season, after Newport had failed to clear Comley's corner. 

Mandron almost made it 3-0 late on when his deflected low drive flew inches wide of the far post but two goals were enough to seal Colchester's win.