THE JobServe Community Stadium was enveloped in thick fog in the hours leading up to Colchester United's crucial basement battle with Barrow.

But while the mist had all but cleared by kick-off time, by the end of the game the U's pathway out of relegation trouble had in contrast become even murkier.

These are pretty desperate times for Colchester, for whom a second successive relegation battle is now becoming a reality.

It is hard to see where Colchester go from here to find their way out of the gloom they currently find themselves immersed in.

This was supposed to be the U's chance to get back on track in their first home league game since November.

It has been a tough run of four successive away league games for Colchester, a sequence which had produced a return of one point and one goal, leaving them three points above the drop zone.

Hayden Mullins' side faced a Barrow team who had started the day just a point above them in the League Two table.

It was an opportunity for the U's to get vital points on the board but what followed was a flat display, devoid of urgency, energy, passion and ideas.

Colchester drew a blank in front of goal for the fourth time in their last five league matches and mustered just one shot on target, in the entire game.

The main positive in the first half was that Colchester were still in the game at half-time, after a drab first half.


But the manner in which Barrow started the second half seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game.

Debutant Tom Dallison's unfortunate own goal in the minutes that immediately followed half-time gave Barrow the upper hand.

And the U's failed to muster an adequate response, their lethargy carrying over from the first half and a lack of width hindering their cause.

In the end, the only surprise in truth was that it took Barrow as long as it did to wrap up their win through Josh Kay, in stoppage-time.


Mullins admitted in his post-match interview that his team must start being more professional in what they are trying to do, on the field.

In making this point, the U's boss is not referring to ill-discipline or misdemeanours on the part of his players.

Rather, he is seemingly urging them to start taking control of their own destiny, rather than waiting for it to happen.

“We were flat at the start of the second half – we were almost waiting for the opposition to score to wake us up," said Mullins.

“Then we woke up at the end and started creating chances but we’re already a goal down."

Mullins cut a devastated figure after the Barrow defeat.

The head coach is always a calm, collected figure but he looked shell-shocked after seeing such a performance from his team.

Needless to say, Colchester badly need a win to lift the gloom and end this rut that they are in.

The trouble is, they have tough away games coming up against promotion-chasing teams in Sutton United and Salford City in which to try and do so.

A return of two points from a possible 21 in their last seven league games - and 17 goals in total this season - does not offer too much cause for optimism.

At the moment, the positives are that there are currently two worse teams in the division in Oldham Athletic and Scunthorpe United and that the U's have games in hand on teams around them.

There is also the hope that the additions made in the transfer window - along with any further arrivals before the end of the month - can somehow help lift Colchester in the coming weeks.

Nevertheless, they need to turn things around and quickly, if they are to lift themselves from the gloom of another relegation battle.