COLCHESTER United suffered a 3-2 defeat in tonight’s dramatic League One clash at Barnsley.

The U’s had only lost once in seven games prior to the Oakwell contest.

However, they conceded goals at the start of both halves and then leaked a third midway through the second period.

Sanchez Watt had made it 1-1 and Freddie Sears rifled the visitors back into the game at 3-2.

But they were unable to snatch another equaliser and, despite a battling performance, finished empty-handed.

Watt scored Colchester’s first goal, after 15 minutes.

The wide man steered the ball home from inside the box, after a cross fell kindly for him.

That made it 1-1, after Barnsley had taken a third-minute lead through danger man Sam Winnall.

The striker fired home an unstoppable effort from the right, to give the hosts an early lead.

Colchester then equalised and just about deserved to be on level terms at the break.

However, they made the worst possible start to the second half when Sean Clohessy fouled Manchester City loanee Devante Cole.

Conor Hourihane stepped up to lash home from the penalty spot.

Barnsley’s third soon followed from Peter Ramage, who sent a downward header past goalkeeper Sam Walker from Hourihane’s delivery.

But Colchester gave themselves hope thanks to the in-form Sears, who rifled home after a brilliant lay-off from substitute Rhys Healey.

However, despite pressing until the bitter end, they were unable to snatch a point.

Colchester had handed a senior debut to young left-back Michael O’Donoghue, with both Magnus Okuonghae and Frankie Kent injured.

The U’s other best chances fell to Sears, Moncur and Gilbey, while Ramage had a headed goal disallowed for offside for Barnsley.

For a full report, reaction and pictures, see Monday’s Gazette.