Colchester United goalkeeper Sam Walker insists they must do everything they can to avoid another agonising end to a League Two season.

The U’s, who missed out on the play-offs by a point last year, missed the opportunity to close the gap on the top seven after slumping to a 1-0 defeat at Crewe Alexandra.

It was Colchester’s first defeat in six matches but long-serving keeper Walker has stressed they cannot afford many more slip-ups, if they are to push for promotion.

Walker said: “It was a missed chance.

“We were in a similar type of position last season and we maybe just ran out of games a bit towards the end, missing out by a point.

“We were very keen not to do that again this season.

“The play-offs is the absolute minimum of where we want it to be – we’re still only three points off them but we can’t keep letting these opportunities to get back in there slip.

“We have 12 games left and 36 points left to play for.

“It’s still a lot of points but we really need to get motoring on and get ourselves into those play-offs and get the results we need to go on a bit of a run.

“It’s a huge game for us against Barnet on Saturday and we need to dust ourselves down, assess everything that has gone on and why we were so flat (at Crewe) and then put in a really good week’s training.

“We’re very fortunate in that we’ve got a very strong squad – if you look at the bench (at Crewe), the manager has got plenty of options so I’m sure training will be lively and vibrant this week.”

Shaun Miller netted Crewe’s winner on the hour mark and Colchester offered very little, both before and after the crucial goal.

“It was bitterly disappointing and we never really got going,” added Walker.

“We got to half-time at 0-0 and spoke about going out there in the second half, imposing our game on them, taking control of the match and going onto win but that just didn’t happen.

“The second-half performance wasn’t like us at all – it was a very poor, flat performance and ultimately we probably deserved what we got in the end.

“A free-kick on the edge of the box puts us under a bit of pressure but I thought we set it up well.

“We got the block in but unfortunately, it’s just fallen for them and that’s sometimes what you get.

“We’ve been there in years gone by where we’ve been fighting for our lives in League One and you need that bit of luck to fall your way.

“They got that and we didn’t – the lad finished well but they haven’t created a huge amount and neither did we.”