Steve Ball lost his job as Colchester head coach after U’s stretched their winless run to 13 games with a 2-1 defeat to Exeter.
The club’s owner and chairman Robbie Cowling said in a statement: “Following the game tonight and a discussion I had with Steve, it was decided that the best way forward was for him to leave his position as head coach.
“Steve has been with the club in different capacities for a long time and I would like it placed on record our thanks to him for his hard work and dedication.”
Exeter took a 27th-minute lead through Robbie Willmott, who tapped home Josh Key’s low cross from inside the six-yard box to complete a polished move.
The Grecians then doubled their advantage in the 64th minute thanks to Ben Seymour, who brilliantly headed home from Key’s right-wing cross.
And although Colchester pulled a goal back two minutes later when half-time substitute Aramide Oteh converted Noah Chilvers’ cross from close range, Exeter extended their unbeaten run to four matches.
Exeter boss Matt Taylor said: “We deserved to win.
“We had to withstand a little bit of pressure near the end but we still had a punch about us too and had we not come away with three points, I’d have been bitterly disappointed.
“It’s 10 points from 12 now but it doesn’t feel like it because it’s been so disjointed – it’s incredible.
“All of a sudden, we’re on a good run but it’s come across a month and a half, the fixtures, with so many games called off.
“But we know those games are to come but hopefully, with the weather turning – and you can see instead of a wet pitch it was a bobbly pitch, so we’re dealing with different challenges constantly but the lads are coming through it.
“We have to find a way of being effective on difficult pitches, and without a physical presence at the top of the pitch in Ryan (Bowman), we still found a way.”
Exeter deserved their win and Colchester goalkeeper Dean Gerken made saves to deny Matt Jay, Pierce Sweeney and Joel Randall, while Tom Parkes’ glancing header clipped a post.
Speaking prior to news of Ball’s departure, Colchester assistant manager Hayden Mullins admitted his club need characters.
He said: “Exeter are a good side – they work hard and they do what they do really well.
“We worked hard and we did as much as we could do but ultimately it wasn’t enough.
“It seems like every mistake that we make we’re getting punished at the moment.
“I think Tommy (Smith) slipped for their first goal and ultimately, we let a runner go on the outside of us and it results in a goal.
“It seems the last couple of weeks have gone like that for us – any slip-up we make seems to end up in a chance or a goal.
“We have to keep going – these chances will come and we’ll get to a weekend where we take them and it’ll turn for us.
“We’re in a bit of a rut and we need characters and people all pulling in the right direction to get out of it.”