Colchester United have lost 3-1 at Cheltenham Town, despite throwing everything at their hosts after going down to ten men.
The U's had gone two goals behind in the space of four first half minutes, with Kevin Dawson and Mohamed Eisa doing the damage.
Sammie Szmodics reduced the arrears on twenty five minutes, and the U's went in at the break 2-1 behind.
It was all Colchester United at the start of the second half, but Mikael Mandron was deemed to have handled on the line, it looked doubtful that the ball was going in, and the penalty was given.
Mandron was dismissed but Sam Walker prevented the hosts going 3-1 up, diving to his right to save Brian Graham's spot kick.
He couldn't prevent the Robins scoring a third two minutes later though, when Jamie Grimes swept in at the far post.
The ten men of the U's really took the game to Cheltenham for the remainder of the game, but couldn't convert the numerous chances they created.
It was the U’s who had the first opportunity of the match, and it was an excellent chance to opening the score in the very first minute.
A defender put the ball into Nicke Kabamba’s path with just Flinders to beat, but the U’s loanee took too long to get a shot away and the chance had gone.
Kabamba was in the thick of the action for the U’s next effort as well, when he and Mikael Mandron looked in good positions when Ryan Jackson’s long throw was flicked on by Ryan Inniss.
The ball seemed to come off Mandron’s thigh before falling kindly into the hands of the home keeper.
That chance came on nine minutes, and less than sixty seconds later the U’s were behind.
A long ball out to the Cheltenham left found Cranston, and his cross was headed firmly into the bottom corner by Kevin Dawson, who was unmarked as he ran in from his right side position.
The game was proving to be an open affair, and chances were exchanged as Szmodics hit a long range effort straight at Flinders before Morrell hit the side-netting at the other end.
On fourteen minutes, the hosts doubled their lead, with Dawson turning provider.
He picked up the ball forty yards from goal, advanced ten yards before his shot was deflected past Walker by the slight touch from teammate Mohamed Eisa.
Eisa then had a shot of his own, but a U’s defender got a touch to deflect it past the post for a corner.
On twenty five minutes, the U’s gained a lifeline, when the referee adjudged a home defender had handled in the box from a diagonal ball from Tom Eastman, and pointed to the spot.
Szmodics stepped up and calmly sent Flinders the wrong way to half the deficit.
The hosts continued to have the better of things though, with Cranston from a free kick and Eisa going close.
Szmodics had the last chance of the half, volleying straight at Flinders, who pounced on the ball at the second attempt.
Drey Wright was introduced at half time, replacing Cameron James as John McGreal looked to get his side back on level terms.
And the U’s started the second period on the front foot but were kept at bay in the opening minutes.
On fifty five minutes, they were reduced to ten men and faced a penalty, as Mikael was adjudged to have handled on the line and red carded.
It didn’t look certain that the ball was on target, but the U’s forward left the field before Brian Graham placed the ball on the penalty spot.
He couldn’t put his side 3-1 up though, as Sam Walker guessed right and dived low to his right to save comfortably.
Two minutes later however, it was three, as Jamie Grimes swept home at the far post when Mohamed’s effort was put across the six yard box.
Debut goalscorer from Tuesday night, Brandon Hanlan, was introduced for Nicke Kabamba, who would have been rueing that first minute miss.
McGreal then made his third and final change, bringing on Sean Murray for Brandon Comley in the centre of midfield.
That came on the hour, and the U’s then dominated the final half an hour.
Szmodics volleyed over from a Wright cross but would have been disappointed not to have at least hit the target from just inside the box.
With the U’s pushing men forward at every opportunity, gaps appeared at the other end and Eisa wasted a couple of chances before sub Gordon’s effort was tipped over by Walker.
Kane Vincent-Young had a shot deflected, and then maybe should have done better when he hit Szmodics’ cross over the bar.
Hanlan tested Flinders in the home goal, but the home keeper was up to the task, and palmed away the venomous effort.
Despite creating the chances that could have got them back in the game, the U’s weren’t ruthless enough, and the final whistle went with the hosts glad to get over the line.