Colchester United 1 Forest Green 0

A MAMMOTH second-half  performance wasn't sufficient to prevent Forest Green falling to their first league defeat of the embryonic season at Colchester United.

Noah Chilvers headed Steve Ball’s men into the lead after 73 seconds with Rovers caught cold as Colchester flew out of the traps.

Following a Covid scare before the 1-0 win over Stevenage on Saturday, head coach Mark Cooper remained without self-isolating quartet; Matty Stevens, Dan Sweeney, Jordan Moore-Taylor and Nicky Cadden.

However, Cooper was boosted by the return of midfield kingpin Carl Winchester. Odin Bailey came in for his 'second debut' following a deadline day loan switch from Birmingham City. Dom Bernard replaced Jayden Richardson and Aaron Collins and Jake Young dropped to the bench to draw breath with a busy sequence of matches ahead.

Caught short with the early goal Rovers had two chances to respond.

The bearded Scott Wagstaff dug out a cross, but the energetic ailey couldn’t keep his header down and it bounced back off the crossbar. From the resulting loose ball, Ebou Adams dragged his effort inches wide of the far post.

Winchester almost netted parity after 25 minutes as he fizzed wide.

The half-time introduction of Josh March down the left looked to add a spark for Rovers, and the striker almost muscled his way onto the end of Wagstaff’s cross after 49 minutes.

Jamille Matt almost crowned his 31st birthday with a goal shortly after the hour, but his header from March’s teasing delivery saw veteran keeper Dean Gerken parry the ball away.

Off the bench, Aaron Collins failed to turn home Udoka Godwin-Malife’s cut-back.

Rovers turned the screw and it looked like Young had snatched a point at the death but he fizzed wide.

Lat-gasp appeals from the Rovers players and bench deep into stoppage time were ignored with March poleaxed.

Forest Green XI: McGee, Bernard (March 46’), Stokes, Winchester (c), Adams, Matt, Bailey, Whitehouse (Collins 57’), Wagstaff (Young 73’), Godwin-Malife

Unused subs: Thomas, Evans, McCoulsky, Richardson

Colchester XI: Gerken, Welch-Hayes, Bramall, Smith, Pell, Brown (Bohui 77’), Harriott, Chilvers, Eastman, Poku (Norris 74’), Gambin (Sowumni 86’)

Unused subs: George, Senior, Scarlett, Marshall Miranda

Rovers travel to Morecambe on Saturday.