Colchester United's disappointing season ended on a losing note after they were beaten 2-1 at home by Rochdale this afternoon.

Calvin Andrew's fine strike midway through the second half proved to be the winner at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, as the U's bowed out of League One with a defeat following their relegation a fortnight ago.

Colchester caretaker manager Steve Ball made four changes to his side for the final game of the season.

Teenage goalkeeper James Bransgrove was handed his senior debut at short notice with fellow academy keeper Dillon Barnes, who was originally named in the U’s starting line-up, missing out after being stuck in traffic on the way to the ground.

Alex Wynter and Alex Gilbey were also recalled as was Matthew Briggs, who made his first start for nearly two months having been out due to personal reasons.

With Colchester’s relegation to League Two confirmed a fortnight before and Rochdale’s play-off hopes extinguished, there was little other than professional pride riding on this end-of-season encounter.

George Moncur was at the heart of the majority of the U’s attacking enterprise in a first half played at a somewhat pedestrian pace, unsurprisingly perhaps given the warm conditions and with little riding on the game.

Rochdale were almost ahead in the ninth minute when Frankie Kent cleared Joseph Bunney’s effort off the line, after Nathaniel Mendez-Laing had set him up in the area.

And the U’s were behind nine minutes later.

After Mendez-Laing had beaten Joe Edwards to the ball, he played a one-two with former Colchester forward Ian Henderson before confidently slotting home.

The U’s responded well to the setback; Moncur’s burst from just inside the Rochdale half resulted in a shot from the edge of the area that Josh Lillis saved, while the visiting keeper also denied Elliot Lee’s 20-yard effort.

Colchester came even closer to equalising 11 minutes before the break when Lillis made a mess of clearing on the edge of his own area and Macauley Bonne’s first-time lobbed effort hit the roof of the net.

But Rochdale still looked dangerous and Donal McDermott’s shot on the turn on the edge of the area was well gathered by Bransgrove after Mendez-Laing had initially escaped down the right and crossed.

Lillis made a good diving save to deny Joe Edwards’ shot from the edge of the area, in the minutes that immediately followed the break.

But Edwards was not to be denied as eight minutes after half-time, he scored with a delightful shot after substitute Chris Porter had laid Gilbey’s pass into his path.

Only a fine save from Bransgrove prevented Rochdale substitute Calvin Andrew from restoring Dale’s lead soon after when he brilliantly saved his diving header from point-blank range.

But after Mendez-Laing’s shot had whistled past the far post, the visitors went back ahead just after the midway point in the second half when Andrew benefited from a rebound in the area and curled an excellent shot into the far corner of the net.

For five pages of coverage of the U's game with Rochdale, see Monday's Daily Gazette.