FEW Colchester United managers have experienced such contrasting fortunes in the opening weeks of the tenure as Matty Etherington.

It hardly seems possible that barely a month has passed since the former West Ham winger led the U’s to an impressive run of ten points from a possible 12, a sequence that could quite easily have been four wins out of four had it not been for a last-gasp equaliser conceded against Sutton United.

Now the U’s head coach is searching for solutions after a miserable run of four successive league defeats, a disappointing spell of form that has left Colchester languishing just above the League Two relegation zone.

READ MORE: 'Give me a chance': reaction from Matty Etherington after U's defeat

“When I first took over, we were getting the key moments right in both boxes but we’re probably not, at the minute,” conceded Etherington, after seeing his side beaten 2-1 at home by his former club, Crawley Town.

Essentially, Colchester have not been good enough at both ends of the pitch, over recent weeks.

The U’s have conceded 13 goals in their last four games in all competitions; they now hold the unenviable distinction of having worst defensive record in the whole of the top four divisions, having shipped 42 league goals, so far.

And, at the other end, they are struggling in front of goal, with just five goals mustered in their last seven matches, in all competitions.


Etherington was right to highlight Colchester’s missed early opportunities against Crawley; had they been converted, it might have been a different contest.

As it was, the visitors scored the first goal, one that was all too familiar in its simplicity for opposition teams at the Community Stadium this season.

From then on, it was an uphill battle for the U’s on a gluepot of a surface which suited the visitors far more than the hosts.

Colchester mustered just two shots on target in the whole of the game, one of which was Joe Taylor’s well-taken strike scored deep into stoppage time, a product of a route one approach that paid dividends for the hosts.

READ MORE: Colchester United match report after Crawley Town defeat

It was too little, too late for the U’s and the cheery festive tune that blasted out at the final whistle did little to lift the gloomy mood emanating within three quarters of the stadium.

It was not just in both boxes that the U’s struggled; the fact that they enjoyed only 37 per cent of the possession at home against a side who had previously won only one away league game all season tells its own story.

There's a touch of deja-vu for Colchester about the first half of this campaign. Sadly, we have been here before over recent seasons.


They are heading into the Christmas period languishing perilously close to the relegation zone, ahead of a tough run of fixtures beginning with a trip to play Phil Parkinson’s second-placed Wrexham, next weekend.

Injuries, of course, have not helped the U’s cause. They are still without a host of players including captain Connor Hall, who they hope will be available for the upcoming trip to North Wales.

Confidence is low within the U’s camp at the moment, unsurprisingly, given their current predicament.

A positive result at Wrexham, similar to those gained against the likes of Notts County and Gillingham earlier this season, would go a long way to boosting morale just when it is needed most.

For that to happen, a big improved is required at both ends of the pitch.