Full-time: Colchester United 1 Scunthorpe United 2
SCUNTHORPE United moved out of League One's bottom four for the first time since the end of September after edging a tight contest with fellow strugglers Colchester United.
Jimmy Ryan's 30-yard screamer four minutes before half-time had put the Iron ahead and they were well in control when Karl Hawley doubled their advantage almost straight from the restart.
Substitute Freddie Sears set up a nervous finale for the visitors when he fired Colchester back in the game in the 59th minute with a clever finish.
But despite a spell of pressure in the immediate aftermath of that goal, the U's slipped to a club record ninth successive loss.
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Scunthorpe handed a debut to Akpo Sodje up front, one of four changes made by Brian Laws in light of further problems of illness and injury.
Christian Ribeiro joined Damien Mozika on the sidelines with a hamstring problem and Mark Duffy also missed out.
It meant a reshuffle across the whole of the park, with Callum Kennedy starting at left-back to allow Tom Newey to switch to the right of the back four.
In midfield, Karl Hawley and Andy Barcham were out wide, while Mike Grella earned only his second start in two months in attack, alongside Sodje.
The Iron front two were quiet for much of the opening quarter of the game, with the home side making most of the early running.
The U's went close after barely 60 seconds – Dominic Samuel stabbing a low centre from Gavin Massey wide – and having seemingly been told to shoot on sight by boss Joe Dunne, they were not afraid to have a go, though in truth they failed to trouble Sam Slocombe in the visiting goal.
Scunthorpe's first real foray in the final third came in the 11th minute, but Hawley, albeit via a slight deflection, lifted a first-time effort into row z after being teed up by Sodge.
Struggling for an outlet both in attack and out wide when the likes of Michael Collins and Ryan picked up possession in the centre, the visitors spent a long period on the back foot.
But they began to assert themselves as the half wore on and enjoyed a good spell around the half hour mark, when Mark Cousins was called into action.
The Colchester keeper didn't have to exert himself too much to keep out a toe-poked effort from Sodje in the 29th minute, but he was worked much harder by Ryan when he fired an effort goalwards 60 seconds later after cutting inside following a run up the byline.
Cousins though had no chance when the Iron midfielder worked the ball onto his right foot outside of the penalty area and unleashed an unstoppable effort into the top corner from range to give his side the lead.
The home side used two of their substitutions at the break to try to quickly find a way back into the game.
Instead thoug, it was Scunthorpe who struck – after just 28 seconds – as Hawley coolly slotted in from the edge of the six-yard box after latching onto Sodje's flick-on.
The home side were rattled.
So too was their goal frame when first Kennedy curled a free-kick over the U's wall and against the angle of post and bar and then Hawley hit the outside of the other post with an angled drive.
Yet just when it looked like the visitors were in control, Colchester struck back against the run of play.
Substitutes Sears, the one-time Iron loanee, and Morrison played a neat one-two and the former displayed plenty of persistence to volley home with his left foot.
Sears' ability to drop into the hole, behind his strike partner, made him a menace and quickly shifted momentum in Colchester's favour.
For the next 10 minutes anywhere would do for Scunthorpe when it came to clearing the ball, but they succeeded only in dropping deep and inviting pressure.
After weathering a bit of a storm, the Iron began to assert themselves again as an attacking force, bringing on Matt Godden to replace the tiring Sodje.
And though they struggled to forge much in the way of chances to put the game to bed, equally rarely did they look like conceding an equaliser as they climbed out of the relegation zone at the U's expense.
COLCHESTER: Cousins; Wilson, Thompson, Okuonghae, Rose; Massey, Gilbey, Bean (Morrison 46), Wright (Porter 69); Clifford; Samuel (Sears 46). Subs: Heath, White, Sanderson, Pentney.
SCUNTHORPE: Slocombe; Newey, Reid, Canavan, Kennedy; Hawley, Ryan (Mirfin 90), Collins, Barcham; Grella, Sodje (Godden 81). Subs: Severn, Gibbons, Walker, Adelakun, Howe.
ATTENDANCE: 3,258 (201 away).