SAMMIE SZMODICS’ first-half deflected strike provided the decisive moment as Colchester United  took the points at Forest Green.

The U’s striker bagged his eighth goal of the season on 26 minutes as he watched the ball clip Rovers’ Paul Digby to beat James Montgomery all ends up.

Unsurprisingly, following Forest Green’s epic 2-1 victory at Carlisle United on Saturday, boss Mark Cooper risked the temptation to tinker and named an unchanged team.

Rovers were at it from the get-go against an in-form Colchester side starting the game in third place in the table. Reece Brown was orchestrating matters for the home side – his deft feet were symbolic of Rovers’ impressive start to their second season in League Two.

Cooper’s side knew a victory would rocket Rovers above the U’s into third. However, this clash was proving cagey – both sides failing to register a shot in anger for 25 minutes.

The trend was bucked on 26 minutes – Colchester’s Szmodics' shot going in off Digby.

Only a strong glove from Montgomery denied Szmodics his second of the night with four minutes of the first-half to go.

Rovers had failed to muster a shot on target in the first 45 minutes and it was Szmodics who ruffled their feathers again – whipping an inviting cross across the box, which was smartly kicked away by Gunning.

Rovers roared for a penalty on 56 minutes – Archibald taking a tumble under the challenge of Ryan Jackson after Courtney Senior had squandered possession.

The U’s responded – Mikael Mandron beating Gunning in the air, but Montgomery was on his mettle to deny Szmodics.

As the clock ticked, Rovers’ sub Reuben Reid had a goal ruled out for offside. Only a stunning save from Dillon Barnes denied Reid 71st minute parity after a fizzing Archibald cross.

Rovers were hunting parity - Brown spanking a right-footed howitzer over the bar.

Mandron almost wrapped the game up for the U's with six minutes on the clock, but Montgomery survived a let off when spilling his low strike.

Forest Green (3-5-1-1) Montgomery; Gunning, Rawson, McGinley; Mills, Winchester (Williams 74), Worthington (Archibald 46); Brown; Morris ( Reid 59) 

Subs not used: Sanchez, Collins, Campbell, Pearce

Attendance: 1,60

Away: 151

Star Man: Nathan McGinley

Referee: K. Johnson