COLCHESTER United paid the penalty at Stevenage this afternoon after sliding to a 1-0 defeat at the Lamex Stadium.

The U's were the better side for large parts of the League Two encounter but Elliott List's penalty in first-half stoppage-time saw them slump to a disappointing loss and Hayden Mullins' side are now 20th in League Two.

Colchester were without Brendan Wiredu for their game at Stevenage after he was ruled out with a knee injury.

Ryan Clampin also missed out with a knee injury but Armando Dobra, Sylvester Jasper and Tommy Smith all returned to the squad after international duty.

Frank Nouble played in a wide role, with Sylv Jasper on the right and Armando Dobra in a central role just behind striker Freddie Sears.

Stevenage almost struck the first blow when U’s goalkeeper Shamal George had to make a brave save at the feet of Jake Taylor who had found himself in space in the box.

But Colchester had the better of the first half after that and carved out plenty of chances.

Skipper Luke Chambers’ header from Charlie Daniels’ dangerous free-kick into the box flew just wide, while the lively Jasper forced Stevenage keeper Adam Smith to push around the post at his near post, after the Fulham loanee had picked up Cole Skuse’s cross-field pass and fired in a long-range effort.

Colchester had a penalty appeal rejected in the 21st minute when Nouble went down under Bruno Andrade’s challenge in the area.

And the U’s almost went ahead a minute later when Jasper was released by Dobra in space on the right and fired in a low shot that flew straight at keeper Smith.

The lively Jasper then went close again a few minutes later when some fine skill saw him run at the Stevenage defence before unleashing a shot that Smith pushed up and away.

But after a first half where Colchester had been on top, they conceded in the third minute of stoppage-time.

After being sent through by Jake Reeves’ pass, List was brought down by George and picked himself up to score the resultant spot-kick, leaving the U’s trailing at the break.

Colchester were forced to make a change in the opening two minutes of the second half, with the injured George replaced by Jake Turner between the sticks.

And soon after, the U’s thought they had equalised when the unmarked Nouble headed in Chilvers’ precise cross into the area, only to be denied by the assistant referee’s raised flag.

But Colchester had a major let-off just after the hour when their former striker Luke Norris, who had just come on as a substitute, sent a weak header straight at Turner when unmarked after Luther James-Wildin had delivered a perfect cross into the area to pick him out.

Andrade hit a shot straight at Turner soon after but Colchester enjoyed the bulk of possession and the Stevenage goal led a charmed life at times.

Jasper's driven cross somehow eluded Sears and substitute Shawn McCoulsky at the far post with five minutes remaining.

But Norris's shot into the ground deflected over for Stevenage and in the end, a single goal proved enough for the hosts to claim victory.

MATCH STATS: COLCHESTER UNITED: George (sub Turner, 48), Tchamadeu, Chambers, Eastman (sub Smith, 79), Daniels, Skuse, Chilvers, Dobra, Jasper, Sears, Nouble (sub McCoulsky, 79).

Subs (not used): Welch-Hayes, Coxe, Hannant, Cooper.

U’s man of the match: Sylvester Jasper.

Stevenage: Smith, Wildin, Cuthbert, Melbourne, Coker, Lines (sub Marshall, 58), Reeves, Taylor, Carvalho Andrade, Reid (sub Norris, 63), List (sub Osborne, 70).

Subs (not used): Daly, Read, Barry, Anang.

Referee: Trevor Kettle.

Bookings: Colchester: Dobra (foul, 39), George (foul, 45), Tchamadeu (foul, 58), Jasper (deliberate handball, 83). Stevenage: James-Wildin (unsporting behaviour, 89).

Sending-off: None.

Goals: Stevenage: List (45).

Attendance: 2, 946.