Bournemouth's 1-0 victory over Colchester maintained Eddie Howe's unbeaten run but was marred by a serious ankle injury to key midfielder Shaun MacDonald.
MacDonald was carried off on a stretcher in the dying minutes of the first half at Dean Court and Howe afterwards predicted he would be sidelined for up to two months.
The Cherries boss said: "Initially we thought Shaun had broken his ankle, but we're optimistic it may only be a bad sprain. He'll have an X-ray and a scan, but whatever the situation he'll probably be out for a couple of months. The injury occurred when he blocked a cross.
"He's a massive player to lose, not only a great player but a great character as well. He's a calming influence in midfield. An unsung hero in our team - and we really missed him in the second half."
MacDonald's injury had an obvious impact on both sets of players and Lewis Grabban's sixth goal in as many matches was enough to settle a subdued contest in Bournemouth's favour.
The win means Howe has not lost in 13 games since returning from Burnley in mid-October and hauls the Cherries to within two points the League One play-off places. Howe added: "All in all protecting a 1-0 lead against a team we've not done particularly well against of late was a good result."
Colchester had lost six of their previous seven games but defended resolutely, especially in the first half. Bournemouth found it difficult to penetrate although Wes Fogden, Steve Cook and Brett Pitman all went close before Grabban's 41st-minute strike.
Colchester failed to clear their lines from a corner and Shaun O'Kane slipped Grabban in for his ninth goal of the season. Colchester made three substitutions in the second half, including bringing on former Republic of Ireland striker Clinton Morrison, in an attempt to salvage a point.
Colchester manager Joe Dunne said: "Overall I thought our game plan was spot-on. I wanted us to be harder to beat. We've been letting goals in all over the place, but one lapse in concentration has cost us. Our goalkeeper has made some good saves in the match, but he might have saved that.
"We were on the front foot in the second half and overall, I thought we merited a draw."