Carlisle United 0 Colchester United 3: Carlisle United were convincingly beaten by Colchester who eased to victory at Brunton Park.

Kwame Poku grabbed two goals either side of a Luke Norris effort as John McGreal's play-off chasers capitalised on a poor Blues display.

Carlisle were inferior in every department as the Essex side scored twice late in the first half and then wrapped things up before the hour mark.

Poku curled home from the edge of the box on 41 minutes and Norris buried a free header shortly afterwards.

Poku then saw a volley spin into the net on 59 minutes with Carlisle offering very little in response as they slumped to a first defeat in four.

Boss Chris Beech brought Max Hunt into the side for the suspended Byron Webster, with Joshua Kayode on the bench, and although Nick Anderton volleyed wide early on, wily frontman Norris could have made more of two early Colchester opportunities.

The striker was then denied by a last-ditch Gethin Jones block as McGreal's team got on top with their passing and movement.

In reply, Elliot Watt saw a deflected effort comfortably saved by Dean Gerken before Colchester steped things up, Adam Collin saving a Bramall free-kick and then showing superb reflexes to keep out a Frank Nouble header.

Jon Mellish had an effort blocked as United tried to get in front but then they failed to prevent Colchester seizing control.

The visitors finally made their pressure count when Poku curled home from the edge of the box after Nouble had held the ball up and fed Ryan Jackson in the right corner.

Things then got worse for Beech's side as they then survived an immediate Nouble attack but allowed Norris a free header to convert the resulting corner.

Colchester could have got a third on the stroke of half-time but Cohen Bramall - whose set-pieces had caused regular problems - saw a free-kick from the right hit the crossbar.

Beech sent on Joshua Kayode for Watt at the break but Carlisle still struggled to create.

Callum Harriott went close for the visitors and after Mike Jones shot straight at Gerken, Colchester did get their third, Nouble again holding it up in the corner and the ball eventually breaking for Poku, whose volley seemed to be going wide before it spun back inside the far post.

Anderton sent a shot wide for Carlisle but they almost conceded a fourth when Kayode's attempted clearance from a free-kick flew straight at Collin.

Nouble and Harry Pell had further attempts, while Norris caused regular problems for Hunt and Aaron Hayden. United's only real chances of note in the half came 10 minutes from time when Gerken scrambled to save a deflected Lewis Alessandra shot, and then kept out a Mellish header from a Kayode long throw.

Carlisle remain 17 points above the relegation place, in fifth position, ahead of Tuesday's home clash with Newport, while Colchester moved up two places to sixth.

United: Collin, G Jones, Anderton, Hunt, Hayden, Watt (Kayode 46), M Jones, Mellish, McKirdy, Patrick (Bridge 79), Alessandra. Not used: Dewhurst, Iredale, Charters, Loft, Sagaf.

Colchester: Gerken, Jackson, Bramall, Prosser, Pell, Harriott (Senior 82), Eastman, Stevenson, Nouble, Poku (Gambin 86), Norris (Robinson 85). Not used: Ross, Welch-Hayes, Comley, Clampin.

Ref: Thomas Bramall.

Crowd: 3,769 (146 Colchester fans).