Harrogate Town couldn’t continue their recent run of encouraging home form into 2023, falling to a 3-1 defeat to Colchester at The EnviroVent Stadium.
Goals in the opening 17 minutes from John Akinde and Noah Chilvers got Simon Weaver’s side off to the worst start, and Junior Tchamadeu’s goal nine minutes after the restart only made matters worse.
Luke Armstrong did pull a goal back in the 77th minute, though it was too little too late for Town to rescue anything from a disappointing afternoon.
Weaver made three changes from New Years’ Day as Captain Josh Falkingham returned to the line-up, along with Rory McArdle and Danny Grant, taking the place of Joe Mattock, Josh Austerfield and Jack Muldoon.
After a fairly uneventful opening 12 minutes in which Jaheim Headley’s deflected effort that ended up in the hands of Kieran O’Hara was the main talking point, the visitors claimed the opening goal.
A long ball forward was turned back towards the edge of the box where Akinde was given too much space and was able to direct the ball into the corner.
Harrogate responded well to going behind though with Grant hitting the post within minutes, and O’Hara turning Alex Pattison’s follow up round the post.
Despite Town’s strong response, Colchester doubled their lead in the 17th minute when another long ball caused problems at the back, Chilvers heading his team mate’s flick on past Pete Jameson.
It could have been three after 20 minutes if not for a one-handed Jameson save as the Town stopper kept out Akinde’s volley.
Town tried to pull a goal back through Luke Armstrong, but the forward’s low shot from a narrow angle was kept out by O’Hara, the only work the Colchester stopper had to do for the remainder of the half.
Jack Muldoon was introduced at the break for Town, but it was George Thomson who would test O’Hara first as his low left footed shot was claimed.
Colchester’s third goal arrived in the 54th minute when Samson Tovide set off on a marauding run before unselfishly picking out Tchamadeu who had the goal at his mercy.
Again Town responded well to the setback but had nothing to show for Muldoon’s effort that was saved by O’Hara, with Armstrong unable to head home the rebound.
Muldoon was busy again just past the hour mark as he fed strike partner Armstrong, though the striker’s poked finish was straight down the throat of O’Hara.
Town pulled a goal back in the 77th minute when, after good work from Grant and Headley, Dior Angus, who had just entered the action, got a touch to Grant’s cross and diverted the ball into the path of Armstrong to bundle home.
Angus continued to look lively in the latter stages as his deflected shot went behind for a corner, but even his best efforts couldn’t rescue anything from the afternoon.
Town: Jameson, Falkingham, Burrell, Thomson (Angus 73), Grant (Frost 82), Folarin (Muldoon 45), Headley, Pattison, Ramsay, McArdle, Armstrong
Subs not used: Oxley, Welch-Hayes, Wright, Austerfield
Goals: Armstrong 77
Booked: Ramsay, Thomson
Colchester: O’Hara, Chambers, Smith, Dallison, Skuse (Read 82), Chilvers (Hannant 73), Ashley, Tchamadeu, Akinde (Sears 90+5), Kazeem (Wood 73), Tovide (Newby 82)
Subs not used: Hornby, Kelleher
Goals: Akinde 12, Chilvers 17, Tchamadeu 54
Booked: Chambers, Chilvers, Smith
Referee: Darren Handley
Attendance: 2,144 (243 away)