Billy Paynter and Ian Armstrong inspired a magnificent second-half comeback to keep Port Vale's top of the Division Two as Brian Horton's side clinched an entertaining win.
Colchester had dominated the opening 45 minutes and Scott McGleish's double gave the visitors a 2-1 lead at half-time, although Sam Collins' reply kept Vale in contention.
And the hosts took full advantage when substitute Paynter, who had replaced
Marc Bridge-Wilkinson, slotted his side's second after collecting Steve
Armstrong then gave Vale the lead by sweeping home a volley, and moments later Adrian Littlejohn's cross allowed Stephen McPhee to settle the clash.
Colchester did pull a goal back but substitute Wayne Andrews' late tap-in
failed to spark a revival as Vale held on to claim victory.
Port Vale: Delaney, Pilkington, Walsh, Collins, Cummins, Lipa, Bridge-Wilkinson, Littlejohn, Brown, Brooker, McPhee.
Subs: Brisco, Armstrong, Paynter, Boyd, Brain.
Colchester: Brown, Stockley, Fitzgerald, Alan White, Myers,
Duguid, Pinault, Izzet, Keith, McGleish, Fagan.
Vine, Bowry, Baldwin, McKinney.
Referee: T Parkes (W Midlands).