COLCHESTER United head coach John McGreal admitted his side looked off the pace after they crashed to a 3-0 home defeat to Forest Green Rovers.

The U's were replaced in sixth spot in the League Two table by their opponents, who put them to the sword on a night to forget for the hosts at the JobServe Community Stadium.

Colchester found themselves trailing 2-0 at half-time, following two goals in the space of 12 minutes from Liam Shephard and Reece Brown.

Christian Doidge made it 3-0 with nine minutes remaining before Frank Nouble was dismissed three minutes later following a second booking for dissent, to complete a miserable night for the U's.

McGreal said: “It’s a poor night. You have to give the opposition credit – I thought they were very good.

"It's frustrating but we have to dust ourselves down and go again.

"We were ready for the game but in this division if you don't do your jobs correctly, you do get your backsides felt and that's what's happened.

“The first goal was important and it was a poor goal for us to give away.

“We felt as though we could have done better in the middle of the pitch and the shot.

“We huffed and puffed but we looked a yard off it.

“We couldn’t get going at times and we were still in it with the one goal but we didn’t get going and we didn’t hunt in packs and it’s let us down.

“A passing team like Forest Green will pass through you.

“They started well but then I thought we stopped it.

“Ben (Stevenson) had a shot which looked as though it had gone in but their goal has just killed us a bit.

“It’s the wrong time to concede goals and you could see the frustration on the pitch.”

Colchester will be without Nouble for their game at Exeter City this weekend and boss McGreal says he was disappointed with the attacker's red card.

"It was disappointing and it's one where we'll look at it as a club, because we need our players to have that discipline even when you're getting beat," said McGreal, who confirmed Ben Stevenson was withdrawn in the second half because of a groin injury.

"You have to control that discipline and that's what we believe in, so we'll look at that.

"It's one where the game is done.

"I'll take that off the fans because I don't want to be getting beat four or five and sixes because again, goal difference could come into it."