The Imps were to slip to defeat at the Jobserve Community Stadium but stay at the top of the Skybet League Two table.
U’s defender Frankie Kent prodded home the only goal of the game in the first half to secure the points for John McGreal’s men after a tough encounter in Essex.
Backed by around 1,000 Imps’ supporters the visitors started the game very brightly, pressing high up the field and forcing Colchester United onto the back foot somewhat with John Akinde almost wriggling free on the right inside the U’s penalty area. Akinde was finding space between the full backs and centre backs of the home side and the striker fashioned the first shooting chance of the game for Bruno Andrade, the number 11 hit it with little backlift and Rene Gilmartin had to watch it all the way into his midriff.
Kane Vincent-Young wriggled his way right into the heart of the City box on the right, but Josh Vickers closed down the angle to concede a corner, but it was an indication of the threat posed by the number 22.
However, Akinde was continually tormenting the home defence, leaping high above the Colchester skipper Luke Prosser to head the ball towards Harry Anderson cutting in from the right but the assistant flag was raised with the City winger adjudged to be just offside quickly halting his route to goal.
Colchester made their way forward down the Imps’ right with Vincent-Young and Frank Nouble creating danger, before Luke Norris lashed a free kick into the wall which deflected for a corner. The flag kick was pinged in towards the front post, Vickers got down smartly to stop the ball on the line but couldn’t stop Frankie Kent lifting the ball home over the Imps’ keeper on the rebound from close range.
City were still looking positive and certainly not crestfallen despite the disappointment of the hosts netting the opener, Jason Shackell peeled away at the back post and connected with an Andrade free kick but he couldn’t quite get it into the mixer as the fans behind Vickers’ goal at the other end of the field continued their support of the team in grey.
Michael Bostwick expertly took the ball from the feet of Norris and set Andrade on his way, the Imps’ number 11 danced past three players before getting his shot away, but the effort was blocked as the visiting fans dreamt of it hitting the back of the net. Akinde was close to getting through following a Bostwick ball forward, Prosser though had to time his tackle to perfection to stop the marauding centre forward getting in on goal.
Harry Toffolo whipped in a tempting ball right across the six yard box, Anderson raced in at the back post but it was just cleared for a City corner. The ball was clipped into the box where Shackell won is aerial battle to nod back into the box, Akinde was in the thick of it but the home side hacked clear.
Colchester United 1 The Imps 0
The Imps came flying out of the traps in the second half pushing very high up the field and getting an early effort away from Andrade, however it cannoned off the unfortunate Anderson before it could trouble Gilmartin.
The hosts were still threatening on the break, Sammie Szmodics was first denied by a brave block from Bostwick before the number ten was then denied by Vickers who pounced to deny him a chance after a fortunate ricochet almost set the Colchester man free deep inside the box. City were back up the other end of the field very rapidly, winning a corner in front of their fans who were praying for a goal from their side, but a foul halted the latest attempt. It only served as more inspiration for the travelling army of supporters who upped the ante yet again.
Akinde did well to bring the ball down on his chest despite close attention from Prosser, his ball wide to Toffolo was hit low and deflected for a corner, the ball came in and Gilmartin punched clear from close to his goal line. The game opened right up with the ball quickly going from one end to the other but neither ‘keeper was brought into action as the game went into it’s final twenty minutes.
City were now pushing harder than ever for the equaliser as the ball was being played into the Colchester box regularly, Bostwick had a shot blocked then McCartan won The Imps’ fifth corner of the game to this point, Shackell won the header but couldn’t direct it on target.
Courtney Senior lashed an effort off target for the hosts in what was their first shooting chance for a while, before a double substitution for The Imps was made with Matt Rhead and Matt Green coming onto the field for Andrade and McCartan. Immediately the two players linked forcing a throw deep into Colchester territory injecting a new threat to the Imps’ armoury.
City kept plugging away and won a free kick some 30 yards from goal, it was cleverly clipped to Shackell who fooled his man but his effort went into the arms of a grateful Gilmartin in the Colchester goal. At the other end Vickers made a wonderful save from a thunderous effort by Jackson which was arrowing into the bottom corner.
With the clock ticking towards full time City kept knocking on the door showing typical never say die attitude, Green hooked in a dangerous teasing centre that was hooked clear before Toffolo won another corner for The Imps which was somehow cleared despite huge pressure being piled on the defence as six minutes of stoppage time was announced. A final chance for the Imps came in the final seconds of the game, Michael O’ Connor curling a free kick over the wall only to see Gilmartin dive to save denying City a late point.
Colchester United 1 The Imps 0
25 Rene GILMARTIN
2 Ryan JACKSON
4 Tom LAPSLIE
5 Luke PROSSER
6 Frankie KENT
7 Courtney SENIOR
8 Harry PELL
9 Luke NORRIS
10 Sammie SZMODICS
22 Kane VINCENT-YOUNG
45 Frank NOUBLE
1 Dillon BARNES
11 Brennan DICKENSON
14 Brandon COMLEY
16 Diaz WRIGHT
18 Tom EASTMAN (84’ for Szmodics)
19 Mikael MANDRON (89’ for Senior)
39 Aaron COLLINS
Goal: Kent 27’
Booked: Senior 34’ Nouble 90’ Eastman 90’ Norris 90’
1 Josh VICKERS
4 Michael O’CONNOR
5 Jason SHACKELL
7 Tom PETT
11 Bruno ANDRADE
14 Harry TOFFOLO
15 James WILSON
16 Michael BOSTWICK
17 Shay McCARTAN
26 Harry ANDERSON
29 John AKINDE
24 Sam SLOCOMBE
2 Kellan GORDON
6 Scott WHARTON
8 Lee FRECKLINGTON
9 Matt RHEAD (75’ for Andrade)
10 Matt GREEN (75’ for McCartan)
18 Bernard MENSAH
Booked: O’Connor 25’ Pett 36’ Wilson 79’ Green 83’ Shackell 90’
Referee: David Coote
Assistants: Simon Long & Neil Davies
4th Official: Andrew Garratt
Attendance: 4,962 (1,111 Imps’ supporters)