U’s sunk by early Stevens strike

Colchester United v Forest Green Rovers – Sky Bet League Two – JobServe Community Stadium – Report

Colchester United 0-1 Forest Green Rovers

Colchester United remain three places above the Sky Bet League Two relegation zone after leaders, Forest Green Rovers claimed a single-goal success at the JobServe Community Stadium thanks to Matthew Stevens’ early header.

Designated as A Game for Ukraine, Colchester sported a one-off yellow and blue kit. Chairman, Robbie Cowling confirmed that all ticket money would be used to help the evacuation of Ukrainian civilians and humanitarian aid to those caught up in the horrific conflict in eastern Europe. U’s fans responded, with more than 6,000 snapping up the £10 tickets. The North Essex sides’ biggest crowd of the campaign to date.

During a lively start, Noah Chilvers drew a smart save from Rovers stopper, Luke McGee, while Shamal George had to be on his toes to divert a Stevens head clear after Daniel Sweeney had picked him out.

Despite their lofty position at the top of the table, Rovers had stuttered of late and arrived in North Essex without a win in seven outings. Jack Aitchison rattled the woodwork as they displayed their intentions and seconds later they snatched the lead. A repeat of their earlier foray forward saw Sweeney deliver another pin-point centre. This time, Stevens made no mistake, diving headlong to beat George from six yards and register his twenty-third goal of the campaign.

George produced a superb one-handed save to deny Aitchison a second for the visitors. Meanwhile, the busy Freddie Sears dragged wide of the target as Colchester rallied tentatively. 

McGee allowed a Cameron Coxe cross to slip through his fingers but snatched the ball at the second attempt. Nevertheless, Colchester lacked creativity and had become rather reliant on John Akinde, Sears and Chilvers carrying the ball forward from deep positions.

Akinde’s effort was blocked as Colchester continued to toil fruitlessly. The former Gillingham frontman was soon replaced by Corie Andrews as U’s interim boss, Wayne Brown looked to inject some energy into an otherwise unadventurous performance.

A combination of McGee’s foot and the base of an upright denied Andrews an immediate impact. But that aside, Forest Green managed the final stages with reasonable comfort to extend their lead at the top to eight points.

Colchester United return to Sky Bet League Two action on Saturday, March 26 when Tranmere Rovers are the visitors to the JobServe Community Stadium (3pm).

Colchester United: George, Coxe, Chambers, Eastman, Kenlock, Skuse, Wiredu (Thomas 86′), Wright (Tchamadeu 80′), Chilvers, Sears, Akinde (Andrews 71′) Subs not used: Hornby, Welch-Hayes, Dallison, Kennedy

Booked: Cameron Coxe (foul)

Goals: None

Forest Green Rovers: McGee, Wilson, Sweeney, Cargill, Stevenson, Adams, Stevens (March 86′), Aitchison, Cadden, Matt, Moore-Taylor Subs not used: Thomas, Allen, Young, Hendry, Diallo, McAteer

Booked: None

Goals: Matthew Stevens 9′

Referee: Andy Woolmer 

Assistants: Robert Hyde and Robert Merchant

Fourth Official: Sam Purkiss

Attendance: 6,140

Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]