COLCHESTER United can still make the League Two play-offs – but it is now a very long shot.

Which begs the question – just how are the U’s now in a position where a top-seven finish now looks so unlikely, with four games to go?

When Luke Prosser’s goal sealed Colchester an impressive 1-0 win at high-flying MK Dons, ending the hosts’ unbeaten home record, it ensured that John McGreal’s side resided in the automatic promotion places heading into Christmas.

It was no fluke, either - they were good value for their place in the top three at that stage, following an impressive first half of the campaign.

The U’s were performing superbly at both ends and defeats, let along successive losses, were a rarity.

Everything was going swimmingly.

But a miserable run of just five wins in the 19 games that have followed that victory at stadiummk tells its own story.

That is more like relegation form and sadly, what had been materialising into Colchester’s most exciting season for a number of years has turned into anything but.

At the end of 2018, few would have predicted that the U’s would be heading into their Good Friday clash against Grimsby Town lying in ninth spot and five points off the top seven.

But the stark reality is that since that seminal win at MK Dons, only relegation-haunted Yeovil and Notts County have picked up fewer points than Colchester.

Much like it is for any side struggling for form, it is a tale of both boxes for the U’s at present.

One goal scored in their last six matches – and none from any of their attacking players in that time – is a glaring statistic.

And in the same period, the U’s have conceded 12 times; there is no doubt that they are shipping cheap goals, as proved again in the 2-0 loss at Bury which seemed to sum up Colchester’s current problems in a nutshell.

Injuries to the likes of Harry Pell and Luke Norris and a loss of form for key players has certainly not helped McGreal’s cause.

The U’s undoubtedly have a talented squad of players, as they showed with their consistent form in the first half of the season.

But sadly, recurring faults at both ends of the pitch over the last few months have cost them dear.

Ultimately, it looks like consigning them to the fourth tier for at least another season.