Colchester eased their relegation worries with victory over troubled Stevenage.

The home side took the lead after Michael Doughty slotted past onrushing Colchester keeper Sam Walker.

A Freddie Sears double either side of a Jabo Ibehre strike gave the visitors a two-goal cushion.

Luke Freeman's free-kick reduced the deficit, but it was too little too late as the hosts also had Filipe Morais sent off for dissent.

Colchester are now three points clear of the relegation zone in 18th place, but Stevenage look to be in serious danger as they lie four points away from safety with four games to play.

Stevenage manager Graham Westley told BBC Three Counties Radio:

"Our work ethic was not at the level that it takes to win. I always ask for a little bit more not a little bit less, and we've had a tendency this year to do a little bit less.

"You look at the mentality of the team; I think there's some good individuals there. I don't think some of the individuals have learned yet to be team players and spread the winning habit.

"We got ourselves ahead today and took the game to them. And once we did we were happy to stay in the comfort zone of defending our lead. As much as I tried to urge the team to do a little bit more and take the game to them, it didn't seem until we were 3-1 down that we really wanted to take the initiative.

"If the impossible is going to become possible, the work ethic has got to go up, the discipline has got to go up, the sense of responsibility has to go up and we've got to be prepared to play the game that we work on all week."

Colchester United manager Joe Dunne told BBC Essex:

"Overall I thought the first half was a bit scrappy. Edgy game, two teams looking edgy also.

"We tactically changed it during the first half and we started to get the ball down and really play.

"I thought second half we were magnificent, so I have to pay great credit to the players for that.

"The important key to today was we were first to everything. We were first to the loose balls, we were pressing, closing down. It sets a tempo."

Lineup, Bookings (5) & Substitutions (6)

Stevenage

  • 16 Day
  • 22 Obeng
  • 15 Freeman
  • 08 Mousinho Booked
  • 04 Dembele
  • 25 Flanagan
  • 20 Smith
  • 33 Henderson (Morais - 59' Dismissed )
  • 12 Zoko
  • 11 Akins (Burrow - 69' )
  • 24 Doughty (Heslop - 74' )

Substitutes

  • 05 Ashton
  • 07 Morais
  • 10 Burrow
  • 14 Heslop
  • 28 N'Guessan
  • 29 Hartley
  • 40 Goodliffe

Colchester United

  • 44 Walker
  • 02 Wright (Olufemi - 45' )
  • 16 Wynter
  • 18 Eastman Booked
  • 04 Okuonghae Booked
  • 22 Gilbey
  • 15 Bean
  • 21 Massey (Vose - 85' )
  • 11 Sears (Morrison - 85' Booked )
  • 17 Ibehre
  • 07 Watt

Substitutes

  • 01 Cousins
  • 09 Morrison
  • 23 Olufemi
  • 25 Vose
  • 30 Wright
  • 40 Szmodics
  • 42 Kent
Ref: Mark Heywood
Att: 3,108

Match Stats

Shots

9 11

On target

4 5

Corners

3 5

Fouls

7 9

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Stevenage 2, Colchester United 3.

90:00 +5:28 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Stevenage 2, Colchester United 3.

90:00 +5:06

Attempt missed. Luke Freeman (Stevenage) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

90:00 +4:11

Curtis Obeng (Stevenage) wins a free kick on the left wing.

90:00 +4:11

Foul by Jabo Ibehre (Colchester United).

90:00 +3:56

Corner, Colchester United. Conceded by Curtis Obeng.

90:00 +3:28 Booking

Booking Clinton Morrison (Colchester United) is shown the yellow card.

90:00 +2:44 Dismissal

Dismissal Filipe Morais (Stevenage) is shown the red card for fighting.

90:00 +0:09 Booking

Booking Tom Eastman (Colchester United) is shown the yellow card.

88:47 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Stevenage 2, Colchester United 3. Luke Freeman (Stevenage) from a free kick with a left footed shot to the bottom right corner.

87:47

Luke Freeman (Stevenage) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

87:47

Foul by Dominic Vose (Colchester United).

86:06 Booking

Booking Magnus Okuonghae (Colchester United) is shown the yellow card.

84:24 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Colchester United. Dominic Vose replaces Gavin Massey.

84:16 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Colchester United. Clinton Morrison replaces Freddie Sears.

84:05

Attempt missed. Bira Dembele (Stevenage) header from the right side of the six yard box is too high.

83:48

Corner, Stevenage. Conceded by Sam Walker.

83:32

Attempt saved. Luke Freeman (Stevenage) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

81:06

Attempt saved. Luke Freeman (Stevenage) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

79:28

Corner, Colchester United. Conceded by Bira Dembele.

79:01 Booking

Booking John Mousinho (Stevenage) is shown the yellow card.

79:00

Gavin Massey (Colchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

78:48

Foul by John Mousinho (Stevenage).

76:16

Attempt missed. Gavin Massey (Colchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

75:32

Foul by Francois Zoko (Stevenage).

75:32

Magnus Okuonghae (Colchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

75:00

(Stevenage) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

75:00

Foul by Freddie Sears (Colchester United).

73:58

Corner, Stevenage. Conceded by Magnus Okuonghae.

73:32 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Stevenage. Simon Heslop replaces Michael Doughty.

72:45 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Stevenage 1, Colchester United 3. Freddie Sears (Colchester United) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jabo Ibehre.

69:00

Michael Doughty (Stevenage) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

68:58

Foul by Jabo Ibehre (Colchester United).

68:25 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Stevenage. Jordan Burrow replaces Lucas Akins.

67:00

Marcus Bean (Colchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

66:59

Foul by John Mousinho (Stevenage).

64:13

Attempt missed. Magnus Okuonghae (Colchester United) header from the centre of the box is too high following a corner.

63:49

Corner, Colchester United. Conceded by Lucas Akins.

60:07

Attempt saved. Freddie Sears (Colchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

58:22 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Stevenage. Filipe Morais replaces Conor Henderson.

57:15

Attempt saved. Freddie Sears (Colchester United) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

56:39

Corner, Colchester United. Conceded by Tom Flanagan.

56:16

Attempt blocked. Freddie Sears (Colchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

53:32

Tom Flanagan (Stevenage) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

53:32

Foul by Jabo Ibehre (Colchester United).

49:41

Francois Zoko (Stevenage) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

49:41

Foul by Sanchez Watt (Colchester United).

49:13 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Stevenage 1, Colchester United 2. Jabo Ibehre (Colchester United) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box to the bottom right corner.

48:57

Attempt blocked. Marcus Bean (Colchester United) header from the right side of the six yard box is blocked.

48:32

Corner, Colchester United. Conceded by Lucas Akins.

45:00

Second Half begins Stevenage 1, Colchester United 1.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Colchester United. Tosin Olufemi replaces David Wright because of an injury.

45:00 +4:30 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Stevenage 1, Colchester United 1.

45:00 +3:58

Attempt missed. Lucas Akins (Stevenage) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

45:00 +2:56 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Stevenage 1, Colchester United 1. Freddie Sears (Colchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by Jabo Ibehre.

45:00 +0:50

Delay in match Bira Dembele (Stevenage) because of an injury.

43:00

Tom Eastman (Colchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

42:43

Foul by Jimmy Smith (Stevenage).

40:02

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

38:41

Delay in match Michael Doughty (Stevenage) because of an injury.

37:39

Attempt blocked. Michael Doughty (Stevenage) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

31:19

Attempt missed. Francois Zoko (Stevenage) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

28:00

David Wright (Colchester United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

27:55

Foul by Curtis Obeng (Stevenage).

27:20

Attempt blocked. Freddie Sears (Colchester United) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

27:04

Attempt blocked. Gavin Massey (Colchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

23:20

Michael Doughty (Stevenage) wins a free kick on the right wing.

23:20

Foul by David Wright (Colchester United).

22:52

Foul by Lucas Akins (Stevenage).

22:52

Tom Eastman (Colchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

18:23

Foul by Lucas Akins (Stevenage).

18:23

Magnus Okuonghae (Colchester United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

15:07

Corner, Stevenage. Conceded by Alex Wynter.

10:43 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Stevenage 1, Colchester United 0. Michael Doughty (Stevenage) left footed shot from the left side of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Lucas Akins.

10:00

Lucas Akins (Stevenage) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

9:55

Foul by Magnus Okuonghae (Colchester United).

3:47

Luke Freeman (Stevenage) wins a free kick on the right wing.

3:47

Foul by Jabo Ibehre (Colchester United).

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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