COLCHESTER United head coach John McGreal admits his players are short of confidence following their disappointing defeat at Exeter City this afternoon.

The U's fell to a third 3-0 defeat in four matches to drop out of the play-off places in League Two, after goals from Matt Jay, Lee Holmes and Nicky Law condemned them to another loss.

Jay struck just before half-time to put Exeter ahead, before the hosts went onto seal victory in the second half.

McGreal said: "You can obviously see that the boys are lacking in confidence.

"I'm really comfortable, until the 45th minute and then we haven't dealt with a ball down the middle and he (Matt Jay) has put it in the top corner.

"That changed the team-talk because there was nothing in the game.

"It was the only shot on goal for both teams, in the first half.

"We were comfortable and tactically, we nullified their threats but the ball down the middle has killed us.

"But I'm looking at the scoreline of 3-0 and thinking 'how is that'?"

Colchester had a great chance to equalise just after half-time when Sammie Szmodics was denied by Christy Pym.

Indeed, the Exeter keeper was in fine form for the hosts in the second half, making a string of excellent saves.

"Sam should be scoring and I think he knows that," added McGreal.

"The shot they scored from in the first half was the first they had and I think we had 15 shots, in the second half.

"Their keeper (Christy Pym) has made some fantastic saves, as he did in the first game against them earlier in the season.

"The keeper seems to haunt us, in a way.

"The second goal has killed us, because we're way in the ascendency.

"We're getting shots in and around it through Mika Mandron, Sammie Szmodics and then we concede another poor goal.

"It was a ball through the middle and not tracking runners and then we go chasing.

"Their keeper made some more good saves with 20 minutes to go and we needed that goal, to get us back in it.

"But confidence was affected because then they got their third.

"We have to dust ourselves down and it's a crucial part of the season.

"We're still in with a great shout and the results have gone well for us.

"We dropped out by a point and we need a goal because more or often than not when we score, we tend to win games - that's the crux of the matter, at the minute."