BRETT Pitman’s first-half strike secured a 1-0 win at Colchester this afternoon as Cherries climbed into the automatic promotion places.

The leading scorer found the net for the fourth successive match when he displayed his golden touch to lash home from eight yards following a fine low cross from Matt Ritchie.

Thoroughly dominant throughout, Cherries had numerous chances to extend the advantage with Lewis Grabban, Marc Pugh and Harry Arter among the players to go close.

But they were not made to rue those missed opportunities as a defence which included fit-again skipper Tommy Elphick comfortably dealt with the little threat posed by the hosts.

Victory lifted Cherries to second in the League One table.

Colchester: (4-4-2) Walker; Wilson, Okuonghae, Thompson, Garmston (White, 64); Massey, Bond, Clifford, Compton (Drey Wright, 72); Morrison (Smith, 73), Ibehre. Unused subs: David Wright, Hewitt, Bean, Cousins (g/k).

Booked: White

Cherries: (4-4-2) Allsop; Francis, Cook, Elphick, Daniels; Ritchie, Arter, O’Kane (MacDonald, 28), Pugh (Hughes, 90); Grabban (Tubbs, 87), Pitman. Unused subs: McQuoid, Seaborne, Fogden, Jalal (g/k).

Booked: O’Kane

Referee: Oliver Langford (West Midlands)

Attendance: 4,727 (including 928 away supporters)