WE all know that hard luck stories and relegation battles go hand in hand.

So Colchester United boss Hayden Mullins knows more than anyone that football can be a harsh game, especially if you’re languishing near the bottom of the table.

Colchester’s defeat at league leaders Forest Green Rovers was perhaps the perfect example of how the cookie crumbles in a match for two teams at opposite ends of the table.

The hosts led for much of the contest at the Fully Charged New Lawn thanks to Jamille Matt’s deflected effort, which will not win any awards for League Two Goal of the Season.

At the other end, Cole Skuse’s deflected effort looked like it was heading in but dropped wide.

It was not the only moment in the match when the hosts seemed to benefit from the rub of the green.

Gazette:

Colchester produced a disciplined, hard-working performance and they created chances.

Indeed, they more than matched the leaders for the majority of the game.

Luke McGee was by far the busiest of the two goalkeepers, with the Forest Green shot-stopper making a string of fine saves.

In the end, the hosts had to rely on capitalizing on a mistake, in order to finally seal their 2-0 victory – seconds after Luke Hannant’s effort had been cleared off the line.

Yes, it was good defending by Forest Green’s Jordan Moore-Taylor but these are the fine margins.

When your luck is out, your luck is out.

Gazette:

“Football is a cruel game and sometimes where (Forest Green) are, you can just keep putting your team out and they get goals and things go for them,” said U’s boss Mullins, after witnessing another defeat for his side on the road.

“At the moment, things are going for them and they’re dropping in the right areas for them.

“Deflections for them are going at the moment and a couple for us are staying out or going the wrong side of the post.

“If one goes in, hopefully we’ll get quite a few to follow."

After four straight defeats in all competitions - albeit all of them away from home - with just two goals scored in that time, the struggling U’s need something to go their way – and fast.

They lie three points above the League Two relegation zone and although they have two games in hand on some of the teams around them, these are worrying times.

The U’s seem to have developed an unwanted habit of conceding goals in the opening quarter of their matches.

They have fallen behind inside the opening 22 minutes in each of their last four games – and have failed to recover in any of them.

And at the other end, their lack of goals is proving increasingly damaging.

Gazette:

Plenty about Colchester’s performance at Forest Green was encouraging, especially against a side who are riding high at the top of the table.

They did create chances and work the goalkeeper and new signing Corie Andrews looked bright on his debut.

But it is a results business.

Needless to say, Colchester’s home game with Barrow this weekend is a crucial one.

The Bluebirds sit one point above the U’s in the table having played a game more. A win for either side would give them breathing space between themselves and the bottom two.

A defeat would mean that those relegation fears deepen.

If you can have must-win games in January, this would probably be one.