TOM Hopper scored twice as Colchester United secured an impressive 3-2 win at play-off chasing Crawley Town to boost their League Two survival hopes.

Cameron McGeehan also netted as the U's climbed out of the relegation zone with four games remaining, following a splendid away victory at Broadfield Stadium.

Harry Forster's excellent header deep into stoppage-time gave the hosts brief hope against a Colchester side who finished with ten men after substitute Samson Tovide was sent off for an off the ball incident with Laurence Maguire, late on.

But the visitors held out and it was a fine day's work for Danny Cowley and his team along with the home supporters, of whom there were nearly 1,000 in the away end.

Colchester boss Cowley made four changes to his starting line-up.

Goalkeeper Sam Hornby was handed his first EFL start since November, 2022, while Tom Dallison, Alistair Smith and Jayden Fevrier were also recalled.

Owen Goodman dropped to the bench along with John Akinde, while Fiacre Kelleher and Harry Anderson dropped out.

Cowley watched the game from the stands after being given a touchline ban following a third yellow card of the season against Stockport County.

Crawley went close in the early stages when the influential Jack Roles dribbled towards the area before lifting a shot over the bar.

But backed by nearly 1,000 away fans, goalkeeper Corey Addai pushed away Noah Chilvers' first-time shot from close range, after good play by Jayden Fevrier.


Colchester had a let off in the 20th minute when Roles’ superb 25-yard strike hit the crossbar before flying over for a goal-kick.

But a minute later, the U’s were ahead.

Hopper converted inside the six-yard box from Ellis Iandolo’s low cross to give Colchester the lead, following some good build-up play by the visitors.

Colchester looked good for their lead but Crawley levelled things up in the 43rd minute through Klaidi Lolos stabbed home from close range after Hornby had initially saved from Harry Forster’s effort, after Arthur Read had conceded possession in a dangerous area.

But the U’s needed barely a minute to restore their advantage.

McGeehan tapped home from two yards for his tenth of the season, after Jay Mingi had taken advantage of a mix-up in the Crawley defence and picked out his team-mate.

It meant Colchester went in at the break ahead and things got even better for the visitors after a minute of the second half when Will Wright's weak defensive header allowed Hopper to pounce and slot the ball past Addai, for his second of the game.

Hopper thought he had scored his hat-trick when he appeared to convert from a Read corner but with the U's players running away in celebration, referee Scott Oldham disallowed the goal for a foul.

Substitute Tovide was sent off in the 88th minute for an off the ball altercation with Laurence Maguire and Hornby made two decent saves in stoppage time before Forster nodded home in the seventh minute of time added on but the U's claimed victory.

MATCH FACTS: COLCHESTER UNITED: Hornby, Mingi, Hall, Dallison, Smith, Read, Chilvers (sub Harbottle, 90), Iandolo, Fevrier (sub Tovide, 80), McGeehan, Hopper.

Subs (not used): Richardson, Wilkinson, Jay, Akinde, Goodman.

Crawley Town: Addai, Darcy (sub J Kelly, 72), Maguire, Wright, Conroy (sub Conroy, 83), Forster, Williams (sub Adeyemo, 62), L Kelly, Lolos, Roles, Orsi.

Subs (not used): Sandford, Mukena, Tsaroulla, Khaleel.

Goals: Colchester: Hopper (21, 46), McGeehan (44). Crawley: Lolos (42), Forster (90).

Bookings: Colchester: Iandolo (foul, 35), Dallison (foul, 69), Hornby (unsporting behaviour, 90).

Red card: Colchester: Tovide (serious foul play, 88).

Referee: Scott Oldham.

Attendance: 5,223 (965 U's fans).