Neil Smith and Barry Hayles hit the goals that kept Fulham’s promotion push purring at Craven Cottage as Kevin Keegan’s side eased past Colchester United this afternoon.

Former Tottenham trainee Smith headed the Whites ahead midway through the first half. The midfielder nodded in his first goal of the campaign from a left-wing cross by Rufus Brevett after a flowing Fulham passing move. His looping header from twelve yards out flew past Carl Emberson with the visiting defence more preoccupied by the presence of Geoff Horsfield in the penalty area.

Fulham spurned several chances to increase their lead but Hayles made sure of the points from the penalty spot with eighteen minutes remaining. The former Bristol Rovers forward notched his eleventh goal of the season, confidently tucking away a penalty moments after being introduced as a substitute. Hayles’ fellow substitute Dirk Lehmann was crudely taken out by Emberson after the German’s first touch put him through on goal, with referee Peter Walton having little choice but to send off the Colchester goalkeeper.

FULHAM (4-4-2): Taylor; Uhlenbeek, Brevett, Symons, Coleman; Bracewell (Trollope 84), Morgan, Smith, Hayward; Horsfield (Hayles 70), Peschisolido (Lehmann 70).

BOOKED: Brevett, Symons.

GOALS: Smith (26), Hayles (pen 72).

COLCHESTER UNITED (4-4-2): Emberson; Dunne, S. Betts, Buckle, Greene; D. Gregory, Williams, Wilkins, Stamps (N. Gregory 65); Dozzell (Sale 79), Abrahams (Locke 45).

BOOKED: Greene, Dunne, Stamps, Wilkins.

SENT OFF: Emberson.

REFEREE: Peter Walton (Long Buckby)