COLCHESTER United head coach Hayden Mullins disagreed with referee Trevor Kettle's decision to award Stevenage a penalty which condemned the visitors to defeat at the Lamex Stadium.

Elliott List's spot-kick in first-half stoppage-time proved enough to give the managerless hosts a 1-0 victory in the League Two clash.

Referee Kettle adjudged that List was brought down by Shamal George just inside the Colchester area and after a discussion with his assistant, booked the U's keeper.

List converted from the spot to secure victory for the managerless hosts, leaving Mullins disappointed.

Mullins said: “From where I looked, it looked like Sham (George) finished outside the box.

“From what he (referee Trevor Kettle) told me was that his left hand caught him inside the box, which was a strange thing for me to hear because I thought Sham got caught on his ribs outside the box.

“I thought that Sham came out and couldn’t really get out of the way of List and then it was a collision.

“List is going to make the most of it but it looked outside the box but the ref said to me that in his opinion, Sham’s left hand caught him inside the box.

“When the referee went over to the linesman, I thought the conversation would be about whether it was a penalty – I didn’t know the conversation was around the red card or not.

“He seemed to have knocked the ball really far and I thought he had defenders in and around it."

George injured his ribs in the incident that led to the penalty being awarded, just before half-time.

It reappeared for the second half but had to be replaced soon after the restart, with Jake Turner coming on in his place.

“It was disappointing to lose Sham," said Mullins.

“We lost a sub and it came so early in the second half.

“If we’d have done it at half-time, we’d have had an extra sub later.

“Because it happened so early, we only had three subs left."

Colchester were the better side in the first half, with Sylvester Jasper twice bringing out good saves from Stevenage keeper Adam Smith.

Frank Nouble also had a header ruled out for offside in the second half, as the U's fell to a defeat which leaves them 20th in League Two.

Mullins said: “It’s such a tough one to take.

“We controlled so much of the game and we’ve really got to try and score when we’re on top, stamp our authority on the game and make those chances count.

“We were comfortable for very large spells of the game.

“We got into really good areas of the pitch but we’re committing a few too many bodies forward for my liking.

“I think that’s what happened with the goal – we left them with a little bit too much grass to run into."