The talk among Stevenage fans before their home game with Colchester United was of the manager search - the talk after was of a big incident and a vital 1-0 victory for the hosts.

A dull first-half was suddenly lit up in the first minute of stoppage time when Boro were awarded a penalty.

A through-ball by Jake Reeves sent Elliott List away with goalkeeper Shamal George charging to meet him.

They did come together on the edge of the area with List getting there first and poking the ball past the Colchester man and making the next point of contact the foul.

A radio communication from linesman to referee said it was in the box with their next discussion coming face-to-face as they decided what card to issue the United man.

Yellow was the answer and frantic searching of law 12 at half-time indicated they were correct.

The FA's law for 2021 says: "There are different circumstances when a player must be cautioned including if a player denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by an offence which was an attempt to play the ball and the referee awards a penalty."

Further debate at the break brought more uncertainty as it was suggested the foul may have happened outside the box.

But most Stevenage fans would have been happier to be 1-0 up against 11 men, rather than still 0-0 but playing 10.

George was injured in the collision and was replaced two minutes into the second half by Jake Turner.

And they thought they had equalised a minute later when Frank Nouble headed home past Adam Smith but the linesman's flag brought the celebrations to a quick end.

Colchester dominated good chunks of what followed but Stevenage defended superbly for the main part and kept Smith untroubled.

And they actually created the better chances, notably substitute Luke Norris who was found unmarked in a central position but planted his header straight at the replacement stopper.

Norris also had a shot deflected behind but they breathed a big sigh of relief when Sylvester Jasper drilled it low across the face of goal and inches away from Shawn McCoulsky turning it home.

That was the final chance for the visitors and it will boost the confidence who comes in on a permanent basis to replace caretaker Robbie O'Keefe.

Prior to the penalty incident, the first half had begun with plenty of excitement and a number of chances.

Stevenage had the first opportunity, Chris Lines chipping a ball in behind the Colchester defence for Jake Taylor who after what seemed like an age, was beaten to the ball by George.

Most of the efforts came on Smith's goal with the Sunderland-born stopper winning the personal duel with Sylvester Jasper.

Three times the lively winger cut in from the right and fired firmly towards the Boro goal. Three times though the keeper was there to push it away.

From there it meandered on its course to the crucial moment.

Stevenage won't mind in the slightest how it came, just that it did and it ended with three huge points.

Stevenage: A.Smith, James-Wildin, Coker, Reeves, Cuthbert, List, Taylor, Andrade, Lines (Marshall 58), Reid (Norris 63), Melbourne.

Subs (not used): Anang, Osborne, Daly, Read, Barry.

Goal: List (pen) 45+3

Booked: Coker 25, James-Wildin 89

Colchester United: George (Turner 47), Chambers, Skuse, Nouble (McCoulsky 79), Sears, Chilvers, Jasper, Eastman (T.Smith 79), Dobra, Tchamadeu.

Subs (not used): Welch-Hayes, Hannant, Coxe, Cooper.

Booked: Dobra 38, George 45+2, Tchamadeu 59, Jasper 83

HT: Stevenage 1 Colchester United 0

Referee: Trevor Kettle (Berkshire)

Attendance: 2,946