Colchester United's play-off hopes were dented this afternoon after they slumped to a hugely disappointing 1-0 home defeat at the hands of bottom club Barnet.

Alex Nicholls' second-half strike proved the difference between the two sides at the Weston Homes Community Stadium, as the U's produced another lacklustre display to fall to a second successive defeat in League Two.

Colchester boss John McGreal made three changes to his starting line-up for their game against Barnet.

Kane Vincent-Young returned from injury at left wing-back and Sean Murray also earned a recall as did defender Ryan Inniss, who made his first start for the U’s since January 20.

Luke Prosser, Ben Stevenson and Drey Wright all dropped to the bench as a result of the changes, while Sammie Szmodics (back) and Kurtis Guthrie (ankle) missed out through injury.

Frankie Kent captained the U’s, with Prosser on the bench.

Colchester made a sluggish start and almost fell behind when Ryan Watson’s low cross-shot flashed across goal for the visitors.

Mikael Mandron fired just wide for the U’s soon after from Tom Eastman’s headed knock-down but at the other end, Alex Nicholls blazed a gilt-edged chance over from ten yards with the goal gaping for the visitors.

Colchester’s best two efforts of the first half came in the seconds leading up to the break.

Brandon Comley’s excellent 25-yard strike flashed inches wide of the far upright while soon after, Barnet keeper George Legg was alert to dive at the feet of Courtney Senior, who had burst into the area.

After a flat first-half display boss McGreal made changes at half-time, bringing on winger Brennan Dickenson for defender Tom Eastman and switching to a 4-4-2 formation in a bid to break the deadlock.

Liam Mandeville followed Dickenson in coming off the bench soon after in place of Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe and Mandron glanced a header wide, from Ryan Jackson's long throw.

But Colchester fell behind in the 67th minute when Nicholls controlled and fired low past goalkeeper Sam Walker from close range, after John Akinde had picked him out in the area.

The U's struggled to create any meaningful chances after that, with Legg not tested as they crashed to a damaging home defeat.