Former Gillingham players Ryan Jackson and Doug Loft experienced an eventful evening against their former club as Colchester United were beaten 2-1 in their final pre-season friendly tonight.

Jackson, who joined Colchester this summer after leaving Priestfield, scored the U's consolation goal in their defeat against their League One opponents at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

But Loft, who skippered the U’s against his old employers, appeared to hurt his back in a challenge in the second half and was forced off just before the hour mark.

Colchester head coach John McGreal will be hoping Loft’s injury is nothing serious, with the start of the new League Two season now little more than a week away.

Goals either side of half-time from Lee Martin and Josh Parker put Gillingham in charge, before Jackson's well-taken consolation with 20 minutes remaining.

McGreal had made seven changes to the side that started their friendly against Ipswich Town, three days earlier.

The only players to start against Gillingham from that line-up against Town were goalkeeper Sam Walker, Tom Eastman, Cole Kpekawa and Mikael Mandron.

The likes of Tommy O’Sullivan and Lewis Kinsella were given the chance to impress, in Colchester’s final friendly of the summer.

The U’s also included new under-23 signing Dan Jefferies on the bench, after the teenage centre-back completed a move to the club’s development squad following his release by Swansea City at the end of last season.

The U’s almost fell behind inside two minutes.

After the ball had been fed to him on the left, Connor Ogilvie tried his luck from nearly 25 yards with a shot that rattled the woodwork to the relief of home keeper, Sam Walker.

Walker easily gathered Martin’s low shot in the 11th minute, before Colchester registered their first effort of the match six minutes later when Craig Slater’s low effort was gathered by Gills keeper, Tomas Holy.

Walker plucked Tom Eaves’ header out of the air just before the half hour after Martin had delivered a free-kick into the box but the U’s fell behind in the 29th minute when Martin finished smartly after Josh Parker’s defence-spitting pass had sent the former Ipswich man through.

Colchester almost fell further behind three minutes later when Kpekawa failed to cut out Luke O’Neill’s pass and Parker found himself through in the area, only for Walker to deflect his effort over the bar.

The U’s went in trailing at the break and made two changes at half-time, bringing on keeper Rene Gilmartin for Walker and Jackson for Kane Vincent-Young.

Mandron was unable to capitalise after drifting past Holy in the area while seconds later at the other end, Eaves drilled a low shot inches past the far post for the visitors.

But Colchester fell further behind nine minutes after the interval when Parker’s downward header beat Gilmartin, following Martin’s corner into the area.

Luke O’Neill’s 30-yard effort whistled just over the bar before Colchester were dealt a blow when Loft picked up an injury and was forced off, to be replaced by Tom Lapslie.

Martin’s first-time far-post volley from Parker’s cross flew over midway through the second half, before the likes of Sammie Szmodics and Sean Murray were given the chance to impress in the final quarter of the match.

And Colchester pulled a goal back with 20 minutes remaining through former Gills player Jackson, after he slotted home from Tom Eastman’s pass.

However, it was not enough to prevent the U's from falling to defeat, in their final pre-season friendly ahead of their League Two curtain-raiser at Accrington Stanley tomorrow week.