COLCHESTER United’s miserable winless run was extended to 13 matches tonight after they were beaten 2-1 at home by Exeter City.

Goals either side of half-time from Robbie Willmott and Ben Seymour were enough to secure victory for the Grecians at the JobServe Community Stadium, despite substitute Aramide Oteh’s consolation goal.

It meant Exeter were able to follow up their 6-1 win over Colchester last November with another win over their opponents and piled more misery on boss Steve Ball on the U’s, whose dreadful form continued.

Colchester boss Steve Ball made four changes to his side for the visit of Exeter.

Michael Folivi, Brendan Wiredu, Noah Chilvers and Josh Doherty were all recalled, with Kwame Poku, Omar Sowunmi, Aramide Oteh and the injured Harry Pell all dropping out.

The U’s lined up in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Folivi out on the right, Callum Harriott on the left with Wiredu and Chilvers the more advanced of the midfielders and Ben Stevenson playing a holding role in front of the defence.

Colchester had a let off in the opening minutes when Matt Jay glanced a brilliant header into the net from Robbie Willmott’s curled delivery only to see his effort ruled out for offside.

But at the other end, the U’s felt they had a legitimate claim for a penalty turned down when Folivi tumbled under Lewis Page’s challenge in the Exeter area.

Colchester fell behind in the 27th minute to a well-worked goal by the visitors.

After a patient build-up in the U’s half, Robbie Willmott gleefully tapped home from inside the six-yard box from Josh Key’s low cross, after a good, incisive move by the visitors.

It was a blow for a U’s side already low in confidence and the hosts came close to falling further behind minutes later when Key's 25-yard effort was deflected just over the bar, seconds after Willmott's goalbound effort had been blocked in the area.

Colchester did not show enough quality or guile to break down a well-organised Exeter defence in the first half and things might have been even worse for them before half-time had it not been for their goalkeeper Dean Gerken making two good reflex saves from both Pierce Sweeney and Randall in quick succession to keep the hosts in the contest.

Frank Nouble glanced a header just wide from a corner for Colchester in first-half stoppage-time but that was not enough to stop U’s boss Ball making a double change at the break, sending on leading scorer Jevani Brown and Oteh for Folivi and Callum Harriott.

Exeter went close in the opening stages of the second half, with Jay curling a shot wide of the far post from a difficult angle but the U’s generally looked livelier in attack in the minutes that followed the break, as a result of the changes.

The impressive Jay forced Gerken to make another save at his near post and Tom Parkes’ glancing header clipped the far post before sailing wide, before Exeter doubled their lead in the 64th minute through Ben Seymour, who brilliantly headed home from Key’s right-wing cross.

Colchester responded immediately though, pulling a goal back two minutes later when Oteh converted Chilvers’ low cross from close range for his first Colchester goal.

It gave the U’s a lifeline but in truth they rarely threatened an equaliser after that, as their long winless run continued.

COLCHESTER UNITED: Gerken, Welch-Hayes, Eastman, Smith, Doherty, Stevenson, Wiredu (sub Senior, 72), Folivi (sub Oteh, 46; sub Sayer, 90)), Chilvers (sub Poku, 77), Harriott (sub Brown, 46), Nouble.

Subs (not used): Sowunmi, Poku, George.

U’s man of the match: Jevani Brown.

Exeter City: Andresson, Taylor, Seymour, Parkes, Page, Sweeney, Key (sub Caprice, 77), Collins, Randall (sub Fisher, 85), Willmott (sub Sparkes, 77), Jay (sub Atangana, 77).

Subs (not used): McArdle, Kite, Lee.

Referee: Will Finnie.

Goals: Colchester: Oteh (66). Exeter: Willmott (27), Seymour (64).

Bookings: Exeter: Parkes (foul, 8), Page (foul, 81).