Stevenage fell to a 3-2 defeat at home to Colchester this afternoon at The Lamex Stadium.
Michael Doughty gave Boro a 10th minute lead only for Freddie Sears to equalise on the stroke of half time for the visitors. Further second half strikes from Sears and Ibehre gave Colchester what proved an unassailable lead, with only a late Luke Freeman free-kick providing any cheer for the home faithful.
Graham Westley made four changes from the side which lost 1-0 at Shrewsbury, with Conor Henderon, Tom Flanagan, Michael Doughty and John Mousinho coming in for Ashton, Heslop, Charles and Reid.
There was an impeccable one minute’s silence before the game to remember those who lost their lives at Hillsborough 25 years ago, as the game started at the slightly later time of 3.07pm.
Stevenage began the game with a 4-4-2 with Freeman at left-back and Smith and Doughty occupying wide roles in midfield. Apart from a dangerous Freddie Sears cross which caused a brief moment of panic, there was little action of note in the opening minutes as both teams looked to suss each other out. However it was Boro who took the lead with 10 minutes on the clock.
Akins controlled a ball forward and played it out to Doughty. The midfielder took the ball in his stride, evaded the attention of a defender and then beat the advancing ‘keeper to the ball to finish in style and put Boro 1-0 up.
Midway through the half Freeman was caught in possession allowing Gavin Massey to burst through on goal. Back came the left-back though to recover and eventually clear, much to the relief of the home faithful.
For the most part Stevenage were on top in the first 45 and Zoko showed great footwork and strength around the half hour to hold off the attention of three defenders and win a throw, setting up another Stevenage attack. Moments the Ivorian went close with an acrobatic effort which flew over.
Eight minutes before the break goalscorer Doughty went close to a second when he picked up the ball and drove forward once again. The midfielder played a neat 1-2 with Freeman but his effort was blocked.
Down the other flank Smith and Obeng were also showing a similarly good understanding, with the latter flying down the right and puts a terrific ball across the box for Zoko but Okuonghae got across well to head away.
Despite hardly threatening throughout the half Colchester drew level during three minutes of injury time. A ball aimed for the unmarked Ibehre was headed away by Obeng, but only as far as Sears who volleyed home with the outside of his foot, away from the despairing dive of Chris Day.
1-1 quickly became 2-1 as Jabo Ibehre swept Colchester into the lead just three minutes after the break from a corner conceded by Freeman. Smith beat Day to the near post delivery, but his header hit a player and then somehow came back off the woodwork for Ibehre to finish from close range.
Boro were shell-shocked and the visitors nearly took a two-goal lead just moments later. Colchester cleared a Stevenage free-kick and when Henderson was beaten to the ball, Sears raced through and was denied only by the outrushing Day.
Sears tested Day again with two further low efforts just before the hour as Boro clung on to just the one-goal deficit, with Filipe Morais replacing Conor Henderson as Graham Westley opted for a change in midfield.
Tom Flanagan recovered well to deny Ibehre as Colchester threatened again on the counter, with big Magnus Okuonghae then heading over from a corner as the visitors kept up the relentless pressure. That dominance eventually yielded a third goal 18 minutes from time - Ibehre again finding Sears in space and his shot evaded both Dembele and Day to nestle in the bottom corner.
Seemingly let free of his defensive duties, Luke Freeman set about getting Boro back into the game and forced Walker into a fine 83rd minute save with an effort from the edge of the area. However Dembele could only head over from the resulting corner.
Freeman then gave Boro a glimmer of hope with two minutes remaining when he fired home a free-kick from the edge of the area to make it 3-2. But any chance Stevenage had of snatching a draw were dealt a blow in four minutes of injury time when Morais was shown a straight red for a clash with fellow sub Clinton Morrison, who was himself cautioned.
Colchester held on to claim all three points and condemn Boro to defeat. With four games to go there are 12 points still up for grabs and Graham Westley will be hoping his men can respond at Sheffield United on Good Friday.
Stevenage: Day, Obeng, Dembele, Flanagan, Freeman, Doughty (Heslop 73), Mousinho, Smith, Henderson (Morais 58), Zoko, Akins (Burrow 69)
Subs not used: Goodliffe, Ashton, N’Guessan, Hartley
Colchester: Walker, Wright (Olufemi 46), Okuonghae, Eastman, Wynter, Gilbey, Massey (Vose 84), Watt, Bean, Sears (Morrison 84), Ibehre
Subs not used: Cousins, Wright, Szmodics, Kent
Referee: Mark Heywood
Attendance: 3, 108 (511 away)