Walsall finally ended their winless streak at the 17th time of asking after Febian Brandy’s strike clinched victory over Colchester.
The striker’s second-half goal sealed three points for the first time since September – with Florent Cuvelier also making a return after seven weeks out.
Andy Taylor’s corner hit the bar with Josh Thompson also striking the woodwork in the last minute for subdued Colchester.
Victory moved Walsall up to 17th in League One, five points above the bottom four, although several teams have a game in hand after a raft of postponements.
Paul Downing kept his place as Andy Butler returned and Dean Holden dropped to the bench while Cuvelier was among the substitutes after seven weeks out with a hamstring injury.
And the game immediately cried out for the Stoke loanee with the out-of-form sides struggled to gain any advantage.
Brandy saw a shot deflect inches wide after 12 minutes before Anthony Wordsworth volleyed over after 19 minutes.
Brandy, yet again, look the most likely man to inspire the Saddlers but she should have scored after 26 minutes following neat link up play with Craig Westcarr.
The pair exchanged passes for Brandy to burst into the area but, on the angle of the six yard box, he dragged his shot across goal.
The warning woke United up and they almost took the lead two minutes later when a long ball caught Walsall out and Jabo Ibehre lifted his shot over the advancing Aaron McCarey and onto the bar.
It was United’s only chance though as the Saddlers took control of the half but found their finishing wanting.
Will Grigg headed over, Adam Chambers saw his shot blocked, Ben Purkiss lashed wide and Marc Cousins tipped Taylor’s corner onto the bar in a dominant spell just before the break.
The visitors’ goal was leading a charmed life and Sam Mantom then fired over on the stroke of half time.
And the Saddlers continued to press in the second half – and should have gone ahead after 47 minutes.
Jamie Paterson skipped down the left and crossed low for Grigg only for Cousins to superbly claw his swept shot away and then block Brandy’s follow-up.
Colchester failed to threaten and Saddlers, who replaced Grigg with George Bowerman on the hour, finally opened the scoring on 61 minutes.
Mantom’s ball over the top found Brandy who controlled expertly to burst past Tom Eastman, into the box and sweep past Cousins.
It was what they deserved against a ragged United side who had lost their last four on the bounce.
Ian Henderson fizzed one wide and Bowerman curled past Cousins’ far post with Walsall increasingly comfortable.
Wordsworth fired over with three minutes remaining, Thompson’s header struck the top of the bar in the last minute and McCarey then saved from John-Joe O’Toole as the Saddlers hung on.Subscribe to our Newsletter