COLCHESTER United hero Ben Stevenson felt his side issued a message of intent after thrashing title-chasing Plymouth Argyle 3-0.

The midfielder set the ball rolling with an early goal before Theo Robinson's first-half brace completed a comfortable League Two victory, at the JobServe Community Stadium on Saturday.

Colchester climbed to fifth in the table after an eye-catching victory against a side that started the day in the automatic promotion places.

And Stevenson believes the no-nonsense nature of his side's performance underlined their ambitions this season.

"We put a bit of a marker out there, to show we're serious about going up," said the 22-year-old.

"It was our best performance of the season.

"One of the most pleasing things was the reaction after the Cambridge game (Colchester's 16-game unbeaten run ended after a 2-1 defeat at the Abbey Stadium).

"Emotions were high after that match.

"Maybe it was a wake-up call but it was important not to over-react.

"It was our first defeat in three and a half months and the most important thing was bouncing back.

"We did that perfectly but at no point did we feel we could take our foot off the gas.

"We just wanted to score more and more goals.

"That's what the manager has tried to instil in us this season.

"If we get one, it's about going back on the attack and trying to get another and our gameplan worked to a tee."

Stevenson was one of three players restored to the starting line-up.

Callum Harriott and Robinson were also recalled, with the trio replacing Kwame Poku, Courtney Senior and Luke Norris.

"To come back into the team and get a goal was great for me personally," added Stevenson.

"As a player, you just want the team to do well. It's about pulling in the same direction.

"But when called upon, you obviously want to come in and do your best, to try and stay in the team.

"I think it was the first time this season the manager played me, Brandon (Comley) and Harry (Pell).

"He wanted to try something different and it worked."

Harriott created the all-important opening goal, connecting with a long ball forward and squaring from the right-hand side.

"Callum has grown in confidence and seems to get better in every game," said former Coventry City man Stevenson.

"We know he can make things happen for us - we've got loads of players like that - and he picked me out perfectly for my goal.

"We'd been working on combination play all week and when we perform like that, it's hard for teams to get close to us.

"We know what we're going to get from Theo, too.

"We can always count on him to come up with a goal and he did really well on Saturday.

"He could have finished with even more than two."