Colchester United 1 PNE 0
A Freddie Sears goal just after half-time gave the home side all the points at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
The Colchester front man fired home after Jabo Ibehre's shot had been only palmed sideways by Thorsten Stuckmann on 55 minutes and North End couldn't get back as Bailey Wright saw red for two yellows controversially late in the game.
Manager Graham Westley had been forced to make three changes with Joel Byrom, Jack King and Stuart Beavon all ruled out through injury; David Buchanan also came in replacing Ben Davies at left back on a very poor, sandy, sticky and heavy pitch.
Despite the surface, bioth teams had a real go from the off; North End first out of the blocks with a chance on five minutes. Joe Garner had a shot at back post after Paul Connolly’s right wing cross, but it was blocked for the game’s first corner.
Nicky Wroe put over an inswinger from the left and his deep cross was met with a great header by Andy Procter, palmed away superbly by on loan Sam Walker in the U’s goal. Wroe rebound was blocked, but Lee Holmes whipped another corner in from the right. It flashed right across goal, but no finishing touch was applied.
It took 18 minutes for Thorsten Stuckmann to be needed, but when he Was, he made an excellent low save from Freddie Sears, after pull back by George Porter, who had evaded two challenges on the right from Buchanan and Wright.
Nine minutes later an effort from Gavin Massey had a shot from the edge of box after Wroe failed to clear a corner. It smashed against the inside of the right hand post and away to safety.
On the ha;lf hour mark, Joe Garner was brought down right on the edge of the box after a good break from the midfield. The free kick was just slightly left of centre 19 yards out. Wroe and Holmes stood over it, Wroe powered it through the wall, but a deflection took all the power out of it and the keeper claimed with relief.
Shortly after another chance came to Nicky Wroe, whose header deflected behind for a corner from Connolly’s deep cross.
Then two minutes before the break Garner won a corner on the right. A clever corner from Holmes went out to Welsh to whip a ball from 25 yards out to the back post, Garner headed over Walker, but also over the bar, landing on the roof of the goal.
The home side had the lead with their first attack of the second half, however, when Freddie Sears slotted Jabo Ibehre clean through, Thorsten Stuckmann got a hand to his shot, but Sears was fastest through the middle to slot into the empty net from a few yards out on 57 minutes.
Just after the hour mark skipper John Welsh drilled a shot from 25 just wide of the left hand post as the pink-stripped Lilywhites looked to get back level as quickly as possible.
On 72 minutes Lee Holmes found space out on the left, turned back onto his right foot and drilled a right-footed effort against the bar. It came out quickly to Nicky Wroe, but he couldn't keep his header down with a reaction effort.
A double change with about a quarter of an hour left saw Beardsley and Monakana replace Procter and Holmes and the wingman immediately picked out Joe Garner with a right wing cross, that the January signing volleyed just over the bar.
On 80 minutes a real moment of controvesy as Bailey Wright was sent off for two yellow cards - the referee cautioning him following a tussle with Ibehre, who was also cautioned as the protagonist.
Down to ten men, Paul Huntington was brought on and Graham Cummins was sacrificed and the ten men pressed forward for an equaliser, Wal;ker blocking from Buchanan and then saving well from Welsh.
Five minutes of time was signalled by the fourth official signalling an opportunity for the ten men to try and grab something from the game, but the home side professionally ran the clock down to give the U's the points.
: Stuckmann, Connolly, Buchanan, Procter (Beardsley, 76), Robertson, Wright, Welsh, Wroe, Cummins (Huntington, 82), Garner, Holmes (Monakana, 76). Subs not used: Rudd, Keane, Foster, Davies.PNE line-up
: Walker, Wright, Okuonghae, Sears, Ibehre, Wilson (Eastman, 57), Massey, White, Porter (Compton, 85), Thompson, Clifford (Bean, 90). Subs not used: Philips, Morrison, Bond, Wright.Colchester United line-up
: Mr Mark HaywardReferee
: 3,215 (268 away fans)Attendance