COLCHESTER United’s players are suffering from a lack of confidence and belief after their League Two play-off hopes were all but ended.

That is the view of midfielder Sam Saunders, after the U’s slumped to a 2-0 defeat at promotion-chasing Bury to find themselves five points adrift of the top seven with four games remaining.

A second-half brace from Dom Telford put paid to Colchester’s challenge at Gigg Lane, inflicting upon John McGreal’s side a fifth defeat in six matches.

Colchester have managed only one goal and conceded 12 goals in that period and midfielder Saunders, who joined the U’s on a free transfer last month, admits mistakes are costing them.

He said: “Having come in in the last few weeks, I see a lot of talent and a lot of good individuals.

“But there’s probably a lack of belief and a little bit of confidence is a little bit down.

“The gaffer has given us all of the information that we needed and there’s no stone unturned – he’s set us up how we wanted to play.

“I’m frustrated for him as well because there’s no-one working harder to try and turn it around.

“It’s a good working environment to come into – it’s not one that should be getting the results it has because we’re a better team than that but it’s just silly mistakes.

“If you don’t pick up from corners or clear you lines, there’s more and more pressure, the crowd gets up and up and finally, they score and you just see the belief get sucked out of us.

“It’s a lack of confidence I think and the only way you’re going to get that confidence is by getting in there and scoring goals.

“It’s frustrating because they’re good players and there’s a good team spirit.

“I feel sorry for the lads because they work hard and I feel sorry for the gaffer and Bally (Steve Ball) because they work their socks off – it’s just not going our way at the minute.”

Saunders made his first Colchester start at Bury, following his arrival on a free transfer last month.

It was the 35-year-old’s first start since last November and he produced an impressive performance, striking the woodwork with a long-range effort.

“It’s not about me and I’m bitterly disappointed,” added the former Brentford midfielder.

“I came through 90 minutes and I felt really good but I’m gutted that there’s only four games to go now to try and affect things.

“There were times in the game where I felt a bit tired which is natural and normal.”