Mansfield Town’s dip in form continued with a disappointing 2-0 reverse at Colchester – a fourth game without a win or scoring a goal.
The Stags’ play-off bid took another hit as they fell to a second straight defeat.
They have now picked up just two points from their last four matches and sit 10th, five points off the pace.
With Ashley Hemmings a surprise inclusion in place of CJ Hamilton, the opening half-hour proved rather disastrous for the Stags at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
Joel Byrom missed a couple of half-chances for the visitors early on, but in the 20th minute the deadlock was broken by Colchester.
Brennan Dickenson seized the moment, turning smartly in the Stags box before curling a beautiful strike into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
It was something of a body blow for Steve Evans’ men, but worse was to follow only eight minutes later.
This time Dickenson turned provider for Colchester, whipping in a terrific cross for Sammy Szmodics, who controlled tidily before curling another low effort past the despairing dive of Scott Shearer.
There was then a let-off for the Stags when Szmodics stretched for, but just couldn’t reach, another tempting cross, this time from Drey Wright.
The Stags came close as half-time approached, with Ashley Hemmings somehow finding some space as he bore down on goal, only to them smash into the side-netting from a tight angle.
The Stags looked a different side in the opening stages of the second period.
Matt Green came mighty close when firing a half-volley wide, while Rhys Bennett was twice denied in rapid succession by a superb double point-blank save from Colchester keeper Sam Walker.
Back came the hosts, and Sean Murray thought he’d make it 3-0, only to see his effort whistle past the post when he really ought to have at least hit the target.
The Stags’ best late opportunity fell to Krystian Pearce, who leapt well to meet Byrom’s cross, but headed wide.
Attendance: 2,526 (172 away).