Colchester United 0 Forest Green 1
Whisper it quietly, but Forest Green are back on track in their quest for promotion.
Winless in seven, Rob Edwards’ side banished any stage fright as Matty Stevens grabbed the game’s only goal as League Two leaders Forest Green got back to winning ways on live TV.
Winning only five out of 22 games on TV, Rovers passed their screen test in swashbuckling fashion, leaving Edwards to lavish praise on his side who have now opened up an eight-point lead at the top with nine games to go, he said: “I’m delighted with the performance and I thought we started the game well.
“We looked a threat from the beginning and created chances and attacked with real penetration with good numbers, with quality.”
Edwards felt the win was a collective effort, he added: “I’m delighted for the group and delighted for the travelling supporters, who’ll be really pleased.
“It has been a bit of a long time coming and it’s been a really big effort.
“Everyone has shown a lot of belief.
“Everyone has got around the group this last week, staff together and the lads have been together.
“You need everyone together when times are a little bit tough.”
Rovers do not have a game this weekend and are next in action when they host bottom club Scunthorpe United, on April 2 and will be boosted by the return of suspension-free Udoka Godwin-Malife and fit again Dom Bernard.
“The lads can get a little bit of downtime and refresh because we know there’s a lot of games coming.“We know what’s coming so it’s going to be intense.
“We’ve got a bit of time now – we’ve got the rest of this week and then we’ve got a full week’s training before we play again.
“We’re well aware of the situation now and we know what we’ve got coming up.
“But as I always say, every game is difficult, especially at this stage of the season but there’s a spirit and a togetherness that the lads have got.”
Earlier, Colchester, sporting yellow and blue to help raise money for the humanitarian effort in Ukraine, went close early on when the floppy-haired Noah Chilvers’ fierce low shot was parried by alert Rovers goalkeeper Luke McGee.
Shamal George denied Stevens and Jack Aitchison’s 20-yard hit smashed the hosts’ crossbar before the visitors took a ninth-minute lead when Stevens stooped superbly to head in Dan Sweeney’s sweet delivery.
U’s keeper George made a smart block to deny Jamille Matt and kept out another fizzer from Aitchison before half-time.
Rovers bossed the second period, but Colchester substitute Junior Tchamadeu’s low effort struck the near post with seven minutes to go.
Colchester United: George; Coxe, Chambers, Eastman, Kenlock; Skuse, Wiredu (Thomas 85); Chilvers, Sears, Wright (Tchamadeu 80); Akinde (Andrews 71).
Forest Green Rovers: McGee; Sweeney, Moore-Taylor, Cargill; Wilson, Stevenson, Adams, Cadden; Aitchison; Stevens, Matt.
Subs not used: Thomas, McAteer, Diallo, Young, Hendry, Allen.
Referee: Andy Woolmer.
Star man: Ebou Adams – Lung-busting energy from start to finish.
FGR fans: 200