TOM Hopper was Colchester United's two-goal hero at Crawley Town - but admits he was 'devastated' he was robbed of a first-ever league hat-trick.

The 30-year-old striker bagged a brace in the U's 3-2 win at Broadfield Stadium, a victory that gave their League Two survival hopes a big boost.

Hopper was in outstanding form for Colchester, scoring twice and leading the line brilliantly.

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He also had a second-half header controversially ruled out for an alleged push by a team-mate, denying him the chance of a hat-trick.

Nevertheless, Hopper played a big part in helping the U's claim a victory that leaves them a point above the relegation zone, with four games to play.

Hopper said: "I was delighted to get two goals; devastated not to get a hat-trick as it would have been my first but the most important thing was the three points.

"The ref said the goal was ruled out because of a foul on the keeper but it wasn't me anyway, so I don't know.

"We were all celebrating in the corner and the next thing I know, Crawley are going up the other end but the backline and Sam Hornby defended it well, like they had all game.


"I've always said in my time here that I haven't had a good enough return of the goals and I guess there's no better time to start doing that than now.

"The three points is obviously the most important thing but to pop up with goals as well is obviously what we're there for, as strikers.

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"It's a delight to pay that back to the team and the boys have all had my back regardless, whether the goals have been there or not, so I can't thank them enough as well.

"It was a great moment to share with the fans and hopefully, we'll have some more before the end of the season."


Colchester battled to an important victory at Crawley and despite having led for much of the game, still experienced a nervous finish following Harry Forster's header, deep into stoppage time.

Hopper said: "It was a tough performance for us and we had to show a bit of everything.

"We had the lead, got pegged back, reacted really quickly and then towards the end when we went down to ten men, they threw everything at us and we stood up to the majority of it.

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"The win gives us confidence but I also think we can take confidence from the previous two games (against Stockport and Wrexham) where even though we haven't had any points return, the performances have been there.

"We know if we put the performances in, we'll get the results we deserve."

Colchester's win at Crawley lifted them out of the relegation zone ahead of tomorrow night's home clash with Grimsby Town.


"It was a valuable three points," added Hopper, who joined Colchester from Lincoln City in January, 2023.

"The fans turned out in their numbers and we can't thank them enough.

"They've been rewarded as well - it was a great day and one that we want to go and back up now on Tuesday.

"We know what our job is and the full focus is on Tuesday."