COLCHESTER United's inconsistent spell continued after they slumped to a miserable 3-0 home defeat at the hands of fellow play-off hopefuls Forest Green Rovers tonight.

Goals from Liam Shephard, Reece Brown and Christian Doidge gave Rovers all three points, at the JobServe Community Stadium.

It was a hugely disappointing evening for the U's, especially on the back of their fine result and performance against Newport County, last weekend.

Colchester head coach John McGreal had unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that started against Newport, following their convincing 3-0 win last Saturday.

The U’s started the evening three points in front of Forest Green in the table and knew that a win would give them even more breathing space, in the play-off positions.

But the hosts almost fell behind inside the opening two minutes when Forest Green striker Christian Doidge turned smartly on the edge of the area before planting a shot over the bar for the visitors after being fed by Reuben Reid.

After a quiet opening, Colchester went close when Ben Stevenson’s curled first-time effort from 20 yards flew over the bar, after he had been picked out by Courtney Senior.

And Stevenson went even closer a few minutes later when his long-range effort flashed inches wide of the post.

But Colchester fell behind in the 21st minute when Liam Shephard lashed home past goalkeeper Rene Gilmartin, after Reece Brown had burst down the U's right and picked him out.

The U’s tried to find a route back into the contest and continued to enjoy the bulk of possession.

But Colchester found themselves even further behind 12 minutes before the break when Shephard raced down the right and picked out Brown, who slotted home low and emphatically for 2-0.

It was a body blow for the U’s, who were left stunned to find themselves trailing by two goals at the break following two devastating attacks by Forest Green.

Colchester started the second half enjoying the bulk of possession, as they attempted to get themselves back in the contest.

But Forest Green stood firm and looked dangerous on the counter attack, with the lively Reid and Doidge working well in attack.

Colchester sent on Brennan Dickenson for Mikael Mandron just before the hour mark, in a bid to reduce the deficit.

And they almost did so when Frank Nouble's fierce effort was parried away by keeper Lewis Ward, at his near post.

Nouble went close again midway through the second half with a header off balance from Dickenson's cross, while minutes later Ward made a good save to claw away Stevenson's shot from the edge of the area that sailed through a crowd of bodies.

Abo Eisa replaced Stevenson with 11 minutes remaining but things got even worse for Colchester two minutes later when Doidge finished comfortably from close range, after Brown had picked him out.

And the U's miserable evening was complete when Nouble was sent off after picking up a second yellow card for dissent, with six minutes to go on a hugely disappointing night for the hosts.

Colchester United: Gilmartin, Jackson, Eastman, Kent, Vincent-Young, Stevenson (sub Eisa, 79), Mandron (sub Dickenson, 58), Nouble, Szmodics, Senior, Norris.

Substitutes (not used): Prosser, Wright, Chilvers, Roberts, Barnes.

Forest Green Rovers: Ward, Shephard (sub Godwin-Malife, 84), Collins (sub James, 58), Rawson, Winchester, Mills, McGinley, Gunning, Brown, Reid (sub Mondal, 74), Doidge.

Substitutes (not used): Thomas, Grubb, Williams, McCoulsky.

Goals: Forest Green Rovers: Shephard (21), Brown (33), Doidge (81).

Bookings: Colchester United: Nouble (unsporting behaviour, 35, 85). Forest Green: Ward (unsporting behaviour, 40).

Sending off: Nouble (two bookings).

Attendance: 2,871 (109).

U's man of the match: Ben Stevenson.

Referee: Alan Young (Cambridgeshire).