MISSED opportunities cost Colchester dear as they succumbed to their fourth defeat of the season, losing 21-30 to old rivals Eton Manor, writes EDWARD MARRIAGE.

Raven Park was packed to the rafters for the final home match of the year, in London One North.

But while Colchester created plenty of chances, all too often errors in the final pass meant this was a match which slipped away.

“A frustrating afternoon,” was the verdict of director of rugby Anthony O’Riordan, who was nevertheless encouraged by the late fightback.

“It says the players have got that in the tank, and it’s my job, and the coaches’ job, to get that out of them."

After Manor raced into an 8-0 lead - scrum-half Toto Odulaja scoring the first of their four tries - Colchester got on the board through Harry Bureau’s penalty midway through the half.

Joe Flexman, who had led the team out to mark his 100th first team match, came close to a try from a kick-ahead, while Oli Pickett was held-up over the line.

With Colchester turning up the heat, a fine move involving plenty of hands was well finished by full-back Jonah Varela, Bureau converting to put the hosts 10-8 ahead.

But scrum-half Matt Wadling’s run of misfortune continued as he dislocated the same shoulder he injured earlier in the season.

Toby Eaton came on to replace him with Brett Cutbush moving to nine.

With Manor pulling down a rumbling Colchester maul, Bureau kicked the resulting penalty to put them 13-8 up.

Rather than kicking to touch which would have brought the half to an end, the ball was turned over.

Full-back Cameron Dutch scampered through for a try, with the referee not spotting the final pass was forward.

The conversion made it 13-13 at the break.

The visitors enjoyed the better of the third quarter, a penalty and a converted try by fly-half Nick Horton putting them 23-13 up.

Alex Gerard replaced hooker Charlie Thorogood who had taken a knock early in the game, and soon after Bureau’s penalty put Colchester within reach.

Pushing for a converted try which would level the scores, Colchester left the door open at the back.

Wing Jordan Sullivan-Warner ran through some tired tackling to secure a bonus point for the visitors.

To their credit Colchester kept fighting but Harry Pickett’s late try went unconverted.

With the final play of the match Connor O’Reilly thought he was in for a try which would have secured a losing bonus point, but the final pass was adjudged forward.

Colchester slip to fifth place in London One North, having played one game fewer than their rivals - league officials are yet to decide if last week’s abandoned game at Chingford is rearranged.

More immediately Colchester have a blockbuster match at nearest neighbours and league leaders Sudbury on Saturday and O’Riordan is relishing the challenge.

He said: “That’s the way I like it. I don’t like time to dwell. We’ve got to move on, box it off.

"We’re only half-way through the league as of next weekend and it’s still all to play for."