Town fell to defeat at home to Colchester United this afternoon as goals from Freddie Sears and Noah Chilvers cancelled out an early Jack Muldoon strike.
Town had looked set to record back to back league victories for the first time since early October after an opening to the game that could have seen them out of sight, but found themselves pegged back and despite no lack of effort couldn’t find a way through after the break.
Simon Weaver unsurprisingly opted for the same starting side as the one that defeated Scunthorpe 3-0 a week
ago. There was one change on the bench though with Emmanuel Ilesanmi replacing Mark Beck, who missed out through illness.
For the visitors, interim boss Wayne Brown – who had taken 20 points from his 14 games in charge - made two changes to the side that earned a 1-0 win against Tranmere in their last outing. In came Junior Tchamadeu and Tom Eastman, who replaced Tom Dallison and John Akinde.
Town began the game on the front foot and had a glorious opportunity in the opening minute when Jack Diamond’s cross-field ball played in Callum Kavanagh. With the young striker well positioned he opted to square to Luke Armstrong but overplayed the pass and the ball fell to safety.
Not to be denied though, a defensive slip from Cameron Coxe saw Armstrong steal possession and play in Muldoon who took a touch before firing beyond Shamal George.
Alex Pattison then burst forward for Town but his left-footed effort was well saved by George.
Town’s front four were by now causing problems for a visiting defence who had been solid in recent week. A
Pattison ball over the top found Kavanagh with a sight of goal but the U’s defensive front held him at bay.
Junior Tchamadeu went into the book on twenty minutes for chopping down Diamond but a minute later the visitors were level.
A neat ball through the Town defence from Chilvers found Sears and he made not mistake in clipping over Oxley who had advanced to smother the danger for his 12th league goal of the season.
The goal took the wind out of Town’s sails with the early dominance and momentum being checked.
And with the U’s at the most dangerous this season in front of goal just before half-time they almost went ahead when a Sears snapshot at the second attempt forced Oxley a smart save in tipping over the bar.
But on the stroke of half-time they did get their lead with Sears this time providing for Chilvers. A cross from the left-hand side found its way past the Town defence with Chilvers free to hit home with his left foot.
Chilvers then almost added a third as a fizzing strike from distance was only inches past Oxley’s left-hand post.
The Town side were back out early for the second-half and were quick off the mark when a Muldoon dummy allowed the rampaging Ryan Fallowfield an opportunity but the visitors defence managed to scramble the danger clear.
Diamond’s ball to Armstrong then put the striker through down the left and his ball picked out Pattison to volley at goal but his effort was mis-directed.
There was a moment of comedy moments later when Muldoon and referee Simon Mather collided mid-pitch with the official perhaps coming off the worst of the two, Fortunately, there was no lasting damage and play soon re-started.
Despite Town starting the second-half brightly they had struggled to carve out threatening opportunities. Simon Weaver responded by bringing on Simon Power in place of Kavnanagh after 67 minutes.
The U’s also made a switch by bringing on veteran midfielder Alan Judge for Tchamadeu.
When a Diamond cross was cleared the ball fell to George Thomson who struck a half-volley from fully thirty yards with George forced at full stretch to palm wide.
Colchester then carved out a big opportunity when the dangerous trio of Judge, Chilvers and Sears combined with the latter’s clever chip just the wrong side of Oxley’s bar.
Coxe then found himself in the book for delaying the taking of a throw-in.
Muldoon was withdrawn with just under 10 minutes remaining with Ilesanmi introduced into the action for his league debut having previously featured in the Papa John’s Trophy.
Oxley was immediately called into action to keep out Luke Hannant’s left-footed strike with Town being forced to commit more numbers in attack in an attempt claw something from the game.
The visitors made a further change with five minutes remaining when Myles Welch-Hayes replaced Cole Skuse.
In the dying seconds Town had a free-kick from distance but substitute Power couldn’t keep his effort down and the ball sailed well over the bar to safety.
TOWN: Oxley, Fallowfield, Burrell, Smith, Sheron, Thomson, Pattison, Diamond, Muldoon, Armstrong, Kavanagh (Power, 67)
Subs not used: Cracknell, McArdle, Austerfield, Kerry, Ilesanmi.
Goal: Muldoon (4)
Colchester United: George, Chambers, Wiredu, Hannant, Skuse (Welch-Haes, 84), Sears, Chilvers, Kenlock, Eastman, Tchamendeu (Judge, 67), Coxe.
Subs not used: Andrews, Hornby, Akinde, Huws, Wright.
Booked: Tchamadeu (20), Chilvers (53), Coxe (78)
Goals: Sears (21). Chilvers (45)
Referee: Simon Mather.