Ashley Vincent stepped up his recovery from knee troubles by playing 45 minutes for Colchester's reserve side.
Vincent featured for the U's second string in a 4-1 win over Crawley on Tuesday afternoon.
The winger took to the pitch in a competitive match for the first time since damaging ligaments and muscle around his left knee in the second weekend of the season.
Vincent, who resumed full training towards the end of September, told the club's official website: "It was great to be back out on the pitch again, but it was frustrating that my legs weren't doing exactly what I wanted them to!
"I need games now to get that sharpness back and I've been working in the afternoons as well to get back into the first-team squad as soon as possible."
Steven Gillespie pressed his claims for a recall to Colchester's starting XI with a hat-trick in the friendly, with Karl Duguid scoring the other.