Colchester United ran out 3-0 winners against Cheltenham Town on a wet and miserable night at The LCI Rail Stadium.
Despite a relatively quiet first half where neither side looked like putting the ball in the back of the net, the game came into life after the interval.
Craig Slater put The U’s ahead just three minutes after half time with a wonderful individual effort, and things went from bad to worse for The Robins from there.
Brennan Dickenson doubled the scoreline just after the hour mark and then Tom Eastman extended the lead even further a few minutes later, before Harry Pell got sent off in the dying seconds.
Cheltenham made just two changes to the side that drew with Portsmouth, as Kyle Storer returned from his ban to replace the suspended Aaron Downes and Jordan Cranston came in for Jack Barthram.
The first chance of the game came after four minutes as Russell Griffiths was forced into making a diving save to his left hand side to keep out Slater’s deflected effort.
The Robins’ first real chance came after almost quarter of an hour when Pell found enough space on the left wing to cross the ball to Danny Wright, but his header went tamely wide of the far post.
The remainder of the half was a rather scrappy affair as both sides struggled to keep hold of possession and create any clear-cut chances.
After the break it took Colchester just three minutes to take the lead as Slater danced past a number of players inside the box and then beat Griffiths at his near post with a low strike.
On 65 minutes Cheltenham then lost the ball in the middle of the park and Colchester broke with pace, and following a clever through ball from Kurtis Guthrie, all Johnstone had to do was slip the ball past Griffiths and into the far corner – and that’s exactly what he did.
Three minutes later Colchester extended their lead even further as Owen Garvan swung in a corner to the near post, and Eastman was there to guide his header into the back of the net.
Pell then picked up his second yellow card of the evening as the referee deemed him to have dived inside the area.
Cheltenham Town: R Griffiths, R Dickie, D Parslow, D O’Shaughnessy, J Cranston, J Rowe (J Munns, 66), H Pell, K Storer (C) (A Morgan-Smith, 51), B Waters, D Wright, D Holman (K Arthur, 66).
Unused Subs: C Kitscha, E Suliman, J Barthram, D Whitehead.
Colchester United: S Walker, R Brindley, T Lapslie (C), F Kent, B Dickenson, G Elokobi, D Johnstone (D Wright, 79), T Eastman, O Garvan (T Fose, 90), C Slater, K Guthrie.
Unused Subs: D Barnes, K Vincent-Young, A Wynter, M Bonne, G Kamara.
Attendance: 2276 (140)