JOHN McGreal’s admission in the aftermath of Colchester United’s defeat at Exeter City that his players are lacking in confidence was perhaps hardly surprising, given their indifferent run of form.

A run of one win in six matches would test the belief of any side; the U’s are going through a rough patch at the moment and things are not going their way.

Christy Pym was arguably man of the match at St James Park for his second-half display, with the Grecians keeper pulling off a string of fine saves including one crucial stop to deny Sammie Szmodics just after half-time with the score at 1-0.

That is the way things are going for the U's at present but aside from opposition goalkeepers' heroics, their recent run of form is undoubtedly disappointing.

It is not just that they have lost three of their last four matches in League Two, although that is exasperating enough in the closing stages of a play-off push.

It is also that the U's have been beaten in each of those three games 3-0; it is a comprehensive margin of defeat almost unheard of throughout McGreal’s three-year stint as head coach.

History shows this season that when Colchester score first, they tend to go on and win matches.

But in contrast, when they concede the game’s opening goal, they more often than not fail to claim victory.

Indeed, the U’s have lost only three times this season after scoring first - but have not come from behind to win a match since December, 2017.

“More or often than not when we score, we tend to win games - that's the crux of the matter, at the minute,” conceded a frustrated McGreal, following his side’s reverse at Exeter.

The U’s head coach was right in his assessment that the final scoreline was harsh on his side.

But it was another example of how opponents are seizing their opportunities when they need to and how as a result, Colchester are being clinically punished.

Quite simply, the U’s have been too inconsistent in both boxes, since the turn of the calendar year.

Since recording an excellent 1-0 triumph at fellow promotion hopefuls MK Dons just before Christmas, they have managed just four wins in 15 matches.

And while they have impressively kept a clean sheet in each of their last ten wins, they have arguably failed to show enough resolve in many of the other games in which they have drawn or lost.

So in that context, it is unsurprising that they are lacking in confidence, which is why it was so refreshing to see young debutant Todd Miller play without any fear at Exeter.

The talented 16-year-old performed as though the shackles were off, after coming off the bench to become the youngest-ever player to represent Colchester.

Let’s hope that Miller’s youthful buoyancy is contagious ahead of another crucial game for the U’s against fellow play-off hopefuls Tranmere Rovers, this weekend.

Nothing is permanent; just as quickly as it evaporates, confidence in sport can quickly return.

Colchester just need a boost from somewhere to get back on track again.