Antony Sweeney's 11th goal of the season ended Hartlepool's winless run as Colchester were consigned to a 1-0 defeat.
Pools looked set for a eighth game without a win, but leading scorer Sweeney struck three minutes from time to stun John Ward's side.
The home side only sparked into life with the introduction of substitute Colin Larkin, whose pace and direct running caused problems for Colchester.
He latched onto Paul Murray's pass after 65 minutes, turned inside Nathan Clarke and only saw his shot saved by goalkeeper Mark Cousins before snatching the follow up from Ritchie Humphreys.
The decisive strike came when a Humphreys free-kick dropped into the penalty area and fell nicely for Sweeney, who made no mistake with a right-foot finish.
But the Us had two chances to snatch a point. First Steve Gillespie and Kayode Odejayi went for the same ball, before Gillespie was presented with a free header six yards out but failed to hit the target.