COLCHESTER United suffered their first league defeat of the new season this afternoon after losing 1-0 at home to Northampton Town.

Jon Guthrie's first-half strike proved the difference between the two sides at the JobServe Community Stadium, which saw fans return for the first time for a competitive match since December, 2020.

After a disappointing first-half display, the U's produced a much better performance after the break.

But despite Sylvester Jasper, Brendan Wiredu and Freddie Sears all going close, they were unable to muster an equaliser.

Colchester made two changes to their starting line-up from the team that lost at Birmingham City in midweek, in the Carabao Cup.

Luke Chambers returned to start against his former club and Alan Judge was also recalled, while Miles Welch-Hayes and Noah Chilvers dropped to the bench.

Colchester fans were back at the JobServe Community Stadium in unlimited capacity for the first time since February 2020.

But the hosts struggled to get going in the first half and Northampton came close to taking a 12th-minute lead when Aaron McGowan’s hopeful effort from the edge of the area sailed wide of the far post.

A scrappy period of play followed after that before the U’s fell behind in the 22nd minute.

Guthrie followed up to score from close range after U’s keeper Shamal George had initially made a good save from his header, following Sam Hoskins' free-kick into the box.

It was the first goal Colchester had conceded in the league, this season and they struggled to create opportunities after that.

They had to wait until just before half-time before registering their best first-half effort.

The impressive Jasper, who was easily the U’s liveliest customer in the first half, found himself room on the edge of the Northampton area before drilling in a shot that keeper Liam Roberts did well to hold.

But Colchester almost found themselves further behind in the fifth minute of time added on at the end of the first half.

Former Northampton defender Chambers cleared Kion Etete's close-range effort off the line after Fraser Horsfall had headed a corner into the danger area at the far post.

The U’s nevertheless went in trailing at the break and set about their quest for an equaliser, in the opening stages of the second half.

It almost came ten minutes after half-time when Roberts made a fine save to push away Wiredu’s effort, after good work by Nouble had set him up.

But at the other end, Colchester had a let off when their former loanee Nicke Kabamba’s close-range effort sails inches past the post after substitute Luke Hannant had only partially cleared the danger in his own area.

But the U’s were better after the interval and spurned a glorious chance to equalise midway through the second half when substitute Sears was denied by the on-rushing Roberts, after being sent through on goal by Jasper.

Colchester continued to be the main attacking force in the second half and Jasper's goalbound effort was blocked by McWilliams at close range, as they pushed for an equaliser.

Northampton were reduced to ten men with five minutes to go when Horsfall was sent off for a deliberate handball, denying a goalscoring opportunity around 25 yards from his own goal.

Frank Nouble came agonisingly close to equalising from close range in stoppage-time after Tom Eastman had headed back across goal but Colchester were unable to muster an equaliser, as they fell to defeat.


COLCHESTER UNITED: George, Chambers, Eastman, Smith, Clampin, Coxe (sub Hannant, 58), Wiredu (sub Sears, 58), Skuse, Jasper (sub Chilvers, 80), Judge, Nouble.

Subs (not used): Welch-Hayes, Tchamadeu, Kennedy, Turner.

U’s man of the match: Sylvester Jasper.

Northampton Town: Roberts, McGowan, Guthrie, Horsfall, Hoskins, Lewis, McWilliams, Mills (sub Nelson, 85), Pinnick (sub Kioki, 75), Etete (sub Rose, 56), Kabamba.

Subs (not used): Connolly, Pollock, Ashley-Seal, Maxted.

Referee: Trevor Kettle (Rutland).

Bookings: Northampton: Pinnock (foul, 31), Hoskins (foul, 75), McWilliams (foul, 90).

Red card: Horsfall (deliberate handball, 85).

Goals: Northampton: Guthrie (22).

Attendance: 2,772 (446 Northampton fans).