Cambridge United were put to the sword by a clinical Colchester United who ran away 3-0 winners in Sky Bet League Two.
Despite some decent spells in possession from United, the U’s lost the game in both boxes with their Essex opponents showing a more ruthless killer instinct. Sammie Szmodics and Frank Nouble gave the hosts a two goal cushion in the first half, before Courtney Senior completed the score line in the second period.
Having returned from international duty Reggie Lambe stepped back into the U’s starting eleven, alongside centre back Greg Taylor who made his first start following a hamstring injury as United’s only two changes.
Szmodics and Harry Pell both struck shots from 18 yards wide of the mark inside ten minutes, as the game quickly settled into an even contest.
George Maris bent a fine 25 yard free kick around the wall to test Colchester keeper Dillon Barnes with United’s first opening, before Taylor saw his firm header cleared off the goal line by Brennan Dickenson from the resulting corner kick moments later.
United had worked themselves into the game well until Szmodics, who continued to be a livewire for the hosts, was sharpest to react to a looping ball inside the U’s area on 23 minutes and placed a shot with his toe beyond Forde to break the deadlock.
Joe Dunne’s men responded and crafted an opportunity to equalise when Brad Halliday’s cross from the right found its way to the feet of Ibehre, but the former Colchester man’s effort from six yards was denied by legs of Barnes.
It proved to be a double blow for the U’s with the hosts quickly producing a counter attacking move which saw Frank Nouble power past the United defence and clinically finish Colchester’s second goal of the game ten minutes before the break.
The U’s returned for the second half and quickly went in search of a way back into the match. They were unlucky not to find an early goal when Greg Taylor had a header blocked on the goal line for a second time in the encounter.
Barry Corr and Ade Azeez were introduced midway through the second half, however it was the hosts who crafted the more threatening openings as the game progressed and United’s hope of a fightback faded.
Sammie Szmodics was denied a second of the game by a last ditch block off a United shin with 20 minutes to play from a promising position 12 yards out. That came before Colchester substitute Courtney Senior did indeed confirm United’s fate, when capitalising on an error by George Taft, with the wide man running clean through on goal and slotting the ball past Forde.
George Maris fired over United’s final chance deep into stoppage time, with the U’s forced to admit a disappointing loss at the Colchester Community Stadium.
Colchester United: Barnes, Jackson, Prosser, Kent, Pell, Norris (Mandron, 85 mins), Szmodics (Collins, 83 mins), Dickenson (Senior, 64 mins), Comley, Vincent-Young, Nouble
Cambridge United: Forde, Halliday, Taft, Taylor, Carroll, Amoo, Deegan, Maris, Lambe (Corr, 64 mins), Brown, Ibehre (Azeez, 76 mins)
Bookings: Halliday, Carroll
Attendance: 4,108 (538)