A BATTLING performance was not enough to prevent Colchester United from falling to a 2-0 defeat at League Two leaders Forest Green Rovers tonight.

The U's pushed their hosts all the way at the Fully Charged New Lawn but ultimately came away from the game empty handed, as they slipped to a third successive league loss.

Forest Green led for much of the game through Jamille Matt's 15th-minute strike.

The U's had their chances after that, with Forest Green goalkeeper Luke McGee twice denying Cole Skuse and also making saves from Alan Judge, Noah Chilvers and Corie Andrews.

Jordan Moore-Taylor also cleared substitute Luke Hannant's effort off the line late on, before Forest Green substitute Josh March wrapped up the hosts' win in the second minute of stoppage-time.

Colchester made two changes to their starting line-up, with new signing Corie Andrews handed his debut and Noah Chilvers recalled.

Leading scorer Freddie Sears and Armando Dobra missed out through illness but new signing Tom Dallison was on the bench.

Forest Green, rather predictably given their league position, started confidently.

But it was Colchester who came closest early on.

Judge’s side-footed effort pushed away low down to his left by goalkeeper McGee after Chilvers’ clever back-heel on the edge of the area had set up the 12th-minute chance.

However, the U’s fell behind, three minutes later.

Forest Green skipper Matt’s low shot squirmed past goalkeeper Jake Turner after Udoka Godwin-Malife had latched onto Regan Hendry's pass and picked out the striker in the area.

Former Colchester midfielder Ben Stevenson lashed a shot over from the edge of the area on the half hour mark.

But the U’s battled hard and almost equalised six minutes before the break when Skuse’s deflected low shot flashed just wide of the post for a corner, after Chilvers had done well to set him up.

Colchester went in at the break trailing and almost fell further behind in the opening minutes of the second half.

Matty Stevens was left completely unmarked in the area but headed Kane Wilson's cross straight at Turner from six yards, in a let-off for the U's.

But Colchester went just as close soon after when Andrews' fierce shot was palmed away by McGee after Wiredu had set the loanee free in the area.

And seconds later, Chilvers' fierce strike from the edge of the area was pushed away by McGee as Colchester pressed for an equaliser.

Colchester came close again on the hour when Skuse intercepted a ball deep inside the Forest Green half and unleashed a low 20-yard shot that was pushed away by McGee.

And although Forest Green went close through Nicky Cadden's dipping effort, the U's were well in the contest.

Colchester made a double change midway through the second half, with Luke Hannant and Charlie Daniels sent into the fray for Chilvers and Junior Tchamadeu and Cameron Coxe switching to right wing-back.

Hannant's low effort was cleared off the line by Moore-Taylor in the closing stages but the U's could not muster an equaliser and March prodded past Turner in stoppage-time, to wrap up Forest Green's win.

MATCH STATS: COLCHESTER UNITED: Turner, Chambers, Eastman, Smith, Tchamadeu (sub Daniels, 69), Skuse, Wiredu, Coxe, Chilvers (sub Hannant, 69), Judge (sub Tovide, 79), Andrews.

Subs (not used): Dallison, Kennedy, Cooper, Gerken.

Forest Green Rovers: McGee, Wilson, Bernard, Hendry (sub Sweeney, 79), Godwin-Malife, Moore-Taylor, Stevenson, Cadden, Stevens (sub March, 87), Aitchison (sub Young, 79), Matt.

Subs (not used): Thomas, Cargill, Edwards, Diallo.

Referee: Ben Speedie.

Bookings: Colchester: Wiredu (foul, 32). Forest Green: Stevenson (44).

Goals: Forest Green: Matt (15), March (90).

Attendance: 1,829 (86 U's fans).