COLCHESTER United conceded in stoppage-time to lose 1-0 at play-off chasing Harrogate Town and suffer their first defeat under head coach Danny Cowley this afternoon.

Jack Muldoon struck in the third minute of time added on to inflict defeat on the U's, who had looked on course to claim a point from a hard-fought contest at the EnviroVent Stadium.

Colchester had registered plenty of efforts on goal throughout the match and will hugely disappointed not to have taken anything from the match, against League Two's form side.

Colchester boss Danny Cowley made one change to his starting line-up.

Cameron McGeehan returned to the U’s starting line-up in place of Arthur Read, who missed out due to injury.

Colchester made a bright start against the division’s form side and almost scored within the first minute.

Harrogate goalkeeper James Belshaw was forced to make a fine early save to parry away McGeehan's powerful shot, from the edge of the area.

At the other end, U’s goalkeeper Owen Goodman did well to hold onto Jack Muldoon’s low effort from just outside the area but Colchester were the better side in the first half.

Alistair Smith was unable to direct his header from Jayden Fevrier’s fierce cross towards the target and Abraham Odoh slotted wide of the target for Harrogate with only Goodman to beat but the assistant's flag was up.

Harrogate then squandered a great chance when Odoh dribbled past Jayden Richardson and advanced towards goal before curling in a tame shot that is easily saved by Goodman.

Colchester defender Riley Harbottle was booked for a cynical foul on Odoh on the halfway line which perhaps would be a candidate for a blue card under the new proposals.

But the U’s came agonisingly close to taking a 36th-minute lead when Noah Chilvers' excellent strike from 25 yards was pushed over brilliantly by Belshaw.

Chilvers beat the ground with frustration but Colchester will have gone in at the break pleased with their first-half showing, after registering 20 shots on goal, four of which were on target.


Colchester went close again in the opening minutes of the second half when Harry Anderson side-footed an effort just wide of the far post, after a good U's attack.

And just after the hour mark, former Harrogate defender Connor Hall's near post header flashed inches past the far post, from Chilvers' corner as the U's looked for a breakthrough.

But Harrogate looked more threatening in the second half.

Goodman made an excellent block to deny Odoh from point-blank range inside the six-yard box just after the hour mark, while seconds later Muldoon's shot was blocked on the line, before Dean Cornelius scuffed the rebound wide from close range as the hosts pressed.

Colchester sent on Jay Mingi, John Akinde, Conor Wilkinson and Matt Jay with around 20 minutes remaining in a bid to break the deadlock and they almost did when Alistair Smith's header from Wilkinson's corner flew wide, under pressure from Belshaw.

The game looked like it was heading for a draw until Muldoon prodded in after Goodman had failed to hold onto Matt Daly's low strike, as the U's were beaten.

MATCH FACTS: COLCHESTER UNITED: Goodman, Richardson, Harbottle, Hall, Iandolo, McGeehan (sub Jay, 73), Smith, Anderson, Fevrier (sub Mingi, 70), Chilvers (sub Wilkinson, 77), Hopper (sub Akinde, 73).

Subs (not used): Dallison, Edwards, Hornby.

Harrogate Town: Belshaw, Abu, O'Connor, Thomson, Dooley, Foulds, Gibson, Muldoon, Cornelius, Odoh, Daly.

Subs (not used): Mitchell, Falkingham, Burrell, Sutton, Sivi, March, Bloxham.

Goal: Harrogate: Muldoon (90).

Bookings: Colchester: Harbottle (foul, 28), McGeehan (unsporting behaviour, 39), Goodman (unsporting behaviour, 57), O'Connor (unsporting behaviour, 90).

Red card: None.

Referee: Tom Neild.

Attendance: 2,706.