Colchester United’s relegation fears deepened when they were beaten 2-0 at fellow strugglers Notts County this afternoon.

The U’s are now just three points above the bottom four in League One having fallen to a fourth successive away defeat, after first-half defensive errors ultimately cost them at Meadow Lane.

Joe Dunne’s side made a poor start for the third successive match when they fell behind after just four minutes.

After Notts County had found space in the Colchester half, Ronan Murray capitalised on Tom Eastman’s hesitancy before planting a low shot past goalkeeper Sam Walker.

The U’s responded well to the setback and created plenty of chances.

Alex Gilbey blasted wide of the target at the second attempt from a good position after his initial shot had been blocked, while Freddie Sears was desperately unlucky not to score when his shot came back off a post.

Jabo Ibehre caused the Notts County defence all sorts of problems and Ryan Dickson was unfortunate to see his cross tipped over by Bartosz Bialkowski.

But more poor defending allowed Haydn Hollis to powerfully head in Alan Sheehan’s free-kick in first-half stoppage-time, to leave Colchester with a mountain to climb.

Notts County went in search of more goals after the break, with Murray’s volley pushed over the bar at his near post by Walker and James Spencer shooting wide of the post after Ryan Dickson had slipped in the area.

Only Sheehan’s brave challenge prevented Sears from getting a shot in from six yards and Dickson’s free-kick was tipped over by Bartosz Bialkowski, with 15 minutes to go.

Bialkowski also denied Craig Eastmond’s fine long-range strike before the end but Notts County secured a vital three points.

For a full match report, pictures and reaction to Colchester’s game at Notts County, see Monday’s Daily Gazette.