IT was a glimmer of good news, at the end of a less than favourable week for Colchester United.

After their Friday night thumping at Oldham Athletic, which had followed strong denials of administration rumours and publicity of the unwanted kind, the fact that the gap between the U's and the League Two trapdoor was only reduced by a solitary point at the end of the weekend’s fixtures was something of a small blessing.

And in this kind of dire situation, you take everything you can get.

It must have been a somewhat nerve-racking experience for any Colchester fans keeping tabs on the progress of their Essex rivals Southend United, on Saturday afternoon.

Yet the fact that the Blues were held at home by mid-table Crawley Town to reduce the gap between themselves and their north Essex neighbours – and potential safety - to four points with five games remaining must have felt like a small win for Colchester’s followers.

The truth is, these last few weeks have become a thoroughly unpleasant experience for anyone of a U’s persuasion.

The dismal 5-2 defeat at Oldham on saw their miserable campaign slump to a new low, as they battle to beat the drop – and dropping out of the Football League for the first time in nearly 30 years.

Just one win in 25 games says everything about why Colchester find themselves hovering just above the relegation places.

Indeed, on that basis of that dismal form, frankly they are fortunate they are not even lower.

The table doesn’t lie and the saving grace is that the teams immediately below them and currently residing in the bottom two – Southend and bottom club Grimsby Town – cannot seem to win games, either.

The Shrimpers’ 0-0 draw at home to Crawley Town on Saturday helped them claw a point closer to the U’s but Grimsby lost at Bradford City.

Hayden Mullins and his players now have a full week – a rarity over recent months – to prepare for their must-win home game against Walsall, who now seem close to safety following their vital 2-1 triumph over Forest Green Rovers.

The U’s then follow that up with a massive fixture against Southend at the JobServe Community Stadium, on Tuesday week.

But right now, Colchester simply cannot afford to look ahead to that derby game and not deal with their most immediate task in hand – attempting to beat Walsall.

For a victory over the Saddlers would be huge in taking the pressure off them and piling it all on Southend, ahead of that big derby game.

But as we all know, wins have not come easy for Colchester, in 2021 – far from it.

Put simply, the U’s must find a way of somehow getting over the line.

There were some good things to take out of the Oldham defeat, in the second half.

Goals from Frank Nouble and Tom Eastman got them back into the game after the break and the visitors had a legitimate appeal for a penalty rejected when Ryan Clampin appeared to be fouled in the box, before the hosts wrapped up their victory with two goals in stoppage-time, as the visitors pushed forward.

It was a pity that it seemingly took being 3-0 down for Colchester to start playing, albeit against a free-scoring Latics side.

Perhaps it was unsurprising that seven goals were shared at Boundary Park, particularly as the sides had drawn 3-3 when they had met at the Community Stadium, earlier in the season.

But only the Latics have a worse defensive record than the U’s in League Two.

And although Keith Curle’s side are currently the division’s joint top scorers, the ease in which they penetrated Colchester’s defence was worrying.

The five goals shipped at Oldham also did damage to the U's goal difference, although thankfully it is still superior to the two teams immediately below them in the table.

The reality, though, is that Colchester are not picking up points.

And games are running out.

Let’s face it; performances do not matter anymore – it is all about points and U’s fans will take a scrappy 1-0 victory over Walsall all day long.

The good news – and we could all do with a bit of that at the moment - is that Colchester’s destiny is still in their own hands, despite their ten-match winless run.

But that might not always be the case.

With tough-looking trips to promotion-chasing pair Cheltenham Town and Tranmere Rovers on the horizon before the season is out, it seems imperative they must get points on the board sooner, rather than later.

They must show how much it means to them to remain a Football League club – and not rely on others to help them do so.