Three wins needed to beat the drop - Smith

Gary Smith. Photo: Harry Hubbard

Gary Smith. Photo: Harry Hubbard - Credit: Archant

REPORT: Stevenage 0 Colchester United 2

Gary Smith says Stevenage need three wins from their remaining 12 games to stay up after seeing his side lose their sixth straight league encounter, the club’s 11th defeat in 13 matches.

It was Colchester United who had inflicted the first defeat of the season on Stevenage back on October 13 after Boro had begun the campaign unbeaten after 11 matches.

But how times have changed - the swagger and belief of a newly assembled side, swatting all before them, has been replaced with an almost lethargy of some players to their cause.

Against Colchester Smith made three changes with Robin Shroot, Luke Freeman and Steve Beleck making way for Anthony Grant, Greg Tansey and Marcus Haber, while there was a change to formation with Boro employing a narrow diamond in midfield.

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The first half was a nervy one for both teams, but it was the visitors who looked the more threatening only for Tom Eastman and Jabo Ibehre to both send efforts over from corners.

Colchester should have gone ahead through Ibehre not long after his header, but the front man, who was a sensation up front, was left to stand in wonder just how his effort was saved by Day.

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George Porter had the initial shot which had beaten the goalkeeper only for David Gray to block on the line, and when Ibehre thought he had struck the rebound into the corner Day appeared spectral-like out of seemingly nowhere to push it to safety.

If that save was memorable, so too was Sam Walker’s at the other end with 10 minutes to go until half-time when Akins’ shot was tapped goalwards by Grant only for the Colchester goalkeeper to produce a stunning save low to his right.

Gray had a decent game, and he was forced to throw his body in front of Gavin Massey’s shot at the start of the second half after a block by Mark Roberts had deflected a shot into his path.

Stevenage had the much-heralded but increasingly disappointing Steve Beleck on the side of the pitch waiting to come on when Colchester got their opener on 62 minutes.

James Dunne had been booked for a rugby-type tackle 35 yards from his own goal, and when Billy Clifford floated in a weighted delivery Ibehre rose highest to head past Day.

Boro’s only chance of note of the half came moments later, Haber striking into the side-netting, and when Colchester scored a second it was game over.

Boro thought there may have been an offside in the build-up but when Massey ran on to a ball behind the defence, while Stevenage appealed for offside Ibehre ran in behind the back line to stroke the ball home from a couple of yards.

Beleck and Haber, too similar in style and dealt with comfortably by the Colchester defence, failed to ignite the Boro performance, and with goals having dried up from midfield in recent weeks things are beginning to look ominous.

Stevenage (4-1-2-1-2): Day 6; Roberts 5, Chorley 4, Charles 5, Gray 6; Mahon 5 (Shroot 75), Dunne 6 (Freeman 67), Tansey 4, Grant 4; Haber 4, Akins 4 (Beleck 62, 3). Subs: Arnold, Iro, Comminges, Hoskins.

Colchester United (4-4-2): Walker 6, Garmston 6, Okuonghae 7, Bond 6, Eastman 6, Wilson 7, Massey 7 (White 86), Porter 6 (Thompson 90), Clifford 6, Ibehre 8, Sears 6 (Morrison 71). Subs: Cousins, Bean, Compton, Wright.

Ref: Scott Duncan

Att: 3,144

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