Exeter City slipped to the first defeat since August as Colchester United took the spoils on a cold night in Essex.
Two first-half goals from Sylvester Jasper and Noah Chilvers delivered the damage.
Padraig Amond opened his account for City with his strike which seemed to spark his side into life. But Freddie Sears put the game beyond Exeter against the run of play to condemn Matt Taylor’s men to the first defeat in fifteen league games.
The boss made two switches from Saturday with Jake Caprice and George Ray back in the fold as City reverted to the back three. Jevani Brown started against his former side.
It took four minutes for City to sting the gloves of Jake Turner. Caprice’s deflected cross needed intervention from creeping in the near post. From the corner Archie Collins had an effort cleared off the line.
Despite having little of the ball in the first 12 minutes, the home side took a shock lead through Sylvester Jasper. Luke Hannant had far too much time to turn twenty-yards out. He played the ball square to the Fulham-loanee who squeezed an effort past Cam Dawson to put the U’s ahead.
Jevani Brown had the first real chance for the Grecians. Sam Nombe sprung the high blue line. At the by-line he pulled it back to Brown who failed to hit the target with his first-time shot.
City probed and were playing attractive football without the end product. Nombe and Caprice’s pace were evidently troublesome for United’s defenders, though quality of delivery evaded.
Colchester almost found a second from the set-piece. Luke Chambers flicked goalward as the U’s gameplan soaked up pressure and played direct.
With four added minutes of the first half played, Colchester United found a second and City’s long unbeaten run looked in stark danger. Noah Chilvers crept around the back and volleyed home unmarked, to cap off a strong half from the home side.
It wasn’t long into the second half before Matt Taylor turned to the bench. Padraig Amond was introduced for George Ray and City tried to up the tempo. Dieng flailed wide from distance.
Matt Jay tried to spice things up with a pop from the edge of the box. Turner was comfortable collecting in his midriff. Jay again stinged Turners’ gloves with a low drive to the near-post, as the Grecians grew in confidence.
Josh Key looked the likeliest to drag Exeter back into the game. The full-back persevered and earned City a couple of corners. It was from the third that City found themselves back in the game.
Key nodded a half-cleared header back into the box. Alex Hartridge flicked on and Podge Amond stole in to smash into the net.
Nombe thought he found the leveller just second later. The striker peeled off and smashed home, only to be denied by a suspect flag from the official.
Amond came close to equalizing himself as he met Caprice’s cross and yet it was the U’s completely against the play to land the sucker punch.
Freddie Sears beat the onrushing Dawson to restore the two-goal advantage.
Jake Turner was forced into a super save as Exeter searched for another. Sam Nombe headed an Archie Collins free-kick on target but the changed keeper had other ideas.
Collins himself had a shot deflected into the keepers’ arms on a night which seemed not to be for the Grecians. Nombe summed the night up with a flashed half-volley wide.
Colchester United: Turner, Chambers, Smith, Hannant (Eastman 70’), Skuse, Sears (McCoulsky 85’), Chilvers, Jasper, Dobra, Tchamadeu (Coxe 35’), Daniels
Subs: Gerken, Nouble, Judge, Cooper
Exeter City: Dawson, Key, Sweeney, Ray (Amond 54’), Hartridge, Caprice, Dieng, Collins, Jay (Coley 81’), J. Brown (Edwards 83’), Nombe
Subs: S. Brown, Amond, Daniel, Grounds, Kite
Referee: Tom Nield