SWINDON Town exited the EFL Trophy in the first knockout round on Tuesday night after a 2-1 defeat at home to League Two rivals, Colchester United.

An inability to defend set-pieces cost Town dear as Luke Chambers headed in a pair of Alan Judge corners inside the first 15 minutes to put the U’s into the next round.

Romoney Crichlow gave the home side faint hopes of a comeback when heading in a cross just before the break, but it was not to be in the end, and Swindon must quickly switch their focus to the upcoming FA Cup tie against Walsall on Saturday.

Swindon made 11 changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Harrogate Town on Saturday. Romoney Crichlow came back in for his first start after injury, while Anthony Grant made his first start since Mansfield Town at home on August 28.

Town named an extremely young bench - minus Steve Mildenhall - with Callum Winchcombe having to settle for a place on the bench after his outing in the final group game.

In a first half where both teams accumulated a grand total of 16 corners, it was Town who won the first in the fourth minute. Ryan East took it, and Jake Turner dropped the ball at his feet, but somehow Colchester prevented it from going in and the stopper dived on it gratefully.

Two minutes later, Colchester took the lead at the end of a three-corner sequence. After Tommy Smith had headed just wide and Alan Judge almost scored directly from his delivery, Chambers found the net at the third attempt from Judge’s cross.

In the 11th minute, it was 2-0 after Mo Dabre slid in dangerously on Sylvester Jasper out on the Town left, and the visitors won a free-kick in a good crossing position. Judge's delivery from the right was met by Chambers once again, with the defender flicking in his effort from the near post across goal and into the net.

Colchester continued to dominate in the early stages, with Freddie Sears stumbling when presented with a one-on-one chance.

Ryan East blasted a powerful long-range shot just wide midway through the opening period, but before long Colchester were banging at the door again via a corner kick. From their seventh corner of the half, Chambers nodded goalwards but his own teammate denied him on the line.

Moments later, three Colchester players were quite literally queueing up to put another Judge cross into the net, but they got in each other’s way and the effort went wide.

McKirdy broke the Colchester dominance with a powerful long-range effort that Turner tipped away, but shortly before half-time it was almost three. Colchester broke sharply through Armando Dobra, and he ran most of the pitch before slipping in Sears down the left. The shot was poor in the end though, and Grant scooped it away.

But at the end of a half in which Swindon were a distant second best, Crichlow gave the hosts a sniff of a chance when planting East’s cross from the left past Turner.

Noah Chilvers had the first chance of the second half after squaring up Harrison Minturn and cutting inside. His low effort was well struck, but straight into the gloves of Ward.

Though Town had improved from the first half, there was a worrying lack of chances being created by the hosts. McKirdy saw a speculative effort easily collected by Turner before having a close-range shot blocked by Smith a few minutes later.

Midway through the second half, Minturn almost scored a comedy own goal when turning back to pass to his goalkeeper, Ward. The young centre-back had clearly eaten his Weetabix in the morning, because his pass was wildly overhit and lucky to slip just wide of the post.

With 15 minutes to play, Swindon almost shot themselves in the foot after Grant gave it away inside his own half. Substitute Samson Tovide was slipped in down the left, but his driven effort went narrowly wide.

Inside the final 10 minutes, Town put together a lovely move as Alex Gilbert traded passes with Jordan Lyden. The Brentford loanee broke into the box and slipped a pass back to Jayden Mitchell-Lawson, but just as the striker went to bulge the net with the ball, Tommy Smith nipped in to clear it away.

Up the other end, Colchester almost made the game safe after Town gave it away inside their own half. Luckily for Town, Tovide's left-footed effort was scuffed out for a goal-kick.

Inside five minutes of added time, Town almost snatched an equaliser after Mitchell-Lawson headed East’s cross goalwards, only to see Turner collect and Colchester hold on.

STFC starting XI: Ward, Crichlow, Lyden, McKirdy, Mitchell-Lawson, Gilbert, East, Dabre, Francis, Minturn, Grant.

SUBS: Mildenhall, Gordon, Winchcombe, Dworzak, Fox, Wynn-Davies, Bunch.

CUFC starting XI: Turner, Welch-Hayes, Chambers, Smith, Skuse, Judge, Sears, Chilvers, Jasper, Dobra, Cox.

SUBS: Gerken, Hannant, McCoulsky, Tchamadeu, Daniels, Tovide, Cooper.