AROUND half an hour after full-time, long after supporters had departed for the evening, a shrill message sounded around the JobServe Community Stadium urging people to immediately leave the venue.

Thankfully it was nothing serious and there was no need to evacuate but the reality for Colchester United is that alarm bells had already been heard long before that, following their lacklustre display against Stevenage.

This was an opportunity for the U's to pretty much secure their League Two status for another season, at home to a relegation-threatened side who had not won away since August.

But what was served up was a largely flat and lacklustre performance where the hosts found themselves ultimately second best to a struggling Stevenage team who showed the required enthusiasm needed to take the three points.


The visitors, in the main, worked harder than the U's; they won their 50-50 challenges and showed more desire in challenges.

What was most disappointing was that Colchester were out-fought, something that U's interim head coach Wayne Brown will not tolerate.

On Grand National day, Colchester were simply not at the races and that was a surprise, given their form heading into the contest.

Colchester had their chances, particularly in the opening 15 minutes and in the latter stages.

Noah Chilvers, Alan Judge and Luke Chambers all had decent opportunities in the embryonic part of the match.


And as the clock ticked down, Freddie Sears' had an effort incorrectly ruled out for offside and substitute John Akinde had a penalty appeal rejected when he went down under Terence

The U's huffed and puffed and showed glimpses of the kind of football that had seen them go into the contest boosted by back-to-back wins.

However, in the main they lacked the necessary tempo and urgency needed to break their opponents down.

In the main, they let their standards drop and it was telling that in his honest post-match interview, Wayne Brown was unusually critical of his side and the manner of the defeat.


"I can accept getting out-played or being unlucky although I hate that word but I cannot accept being second best to a team that basically wanted to win more than we did," said the U's interim boss afterwards.

Colchester have shown improvement under Brown, since his appointment in January.

They have been competitive in the vast majority of the matches they have played since he took temporary charge and have always been in games of football.

The U's had gone into the Stevenage match having won four of their last six matches and got themselves into a position where they are on the cusp of League Two safety.


And it shows that despite recent wins, there is still be plenty of work to do with five games remaining and beyond.

While Colchester are eight points above the relegation zone and look destined to be safe for another season, the job is not done yet.

Once the last ball of the season is kicked and hopefully Colchester have secured their Football League status for another season, the analysis and evaluation of the 2021-22 campaign will begin.

Until then, the U's must show a great deal more desire and appetite than they did against Stevenage if they are to avoid a limp conclusion to a draining season.