Colchester United's home woes continued as Notts County took all three points at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
The U's had struggled to get into gear in the first half against the Magpies, but got to the interval at 0-0 as they looked for a victory that would close the gap on the teams above.
They were an improved outfit in the second half, but fell to a sucker punch once again as Paddy McCourt dived to head home past Sam Walker.
The U's pressed and probed in the remaining part of the game, winning a series of corners, but could not find a way past an organised County defence.
So it would prove to be another home reverse, with the one consolation being that the gap to safety remains at two points with the results around them on the day.
The visitors started the stronger and bossed the early possession. They also had the first sight of goal early on, as Jones’ shot, which was heading for the bottom left corner of Walker’s goal, was flicked just wide of the post by the outstretched boot of Eastman.
Szmodics sent over a dangerous cross not long afterwards, but it was the visitors who were asking the early questions, with Campbell-Ryce cutting in off the left to fire in a low shot that forced a good stop out of Walker.
The U’s first sight of goal came after 17 minutes when they won a free kick on the edge of the box, but Moncur lifted his effort over the bar.
They were getting some joy down their left with Briggs and Massey combining well, whilst Szmodics had to be in the right place defensively to stop Noble getting a shot away when well placed.
But the U’s midfielder gave the ball away to Adams not long afterwards and the left back forced a great save out of Walker, who tipped it over.
Szmodics was in the thick of the action and, after good play by Briggs, he crossed for Porter to chest down to the midfielder. He could only drive his shot wide of goal, though.
Walker was the busier of the two keepers and came to the rescue again after Briggs had lost the ball cheaply in midfield, and Noble forced a good save out of him.
At the other end, Massey and Szmodics combined to win the ball and Moncur smashed in a shot that Carroll saved comfortably.
The U’s would need a much improved display in the second half and Massey volleyed wide early in the second period as the home side looked to stamp their mark on the game.
They started that half brightly and Briggs sent over a dangerous cross from the right that had three waiting to head home, before Carroll tipped over.
Massey was next to go close, reacting first to Bonne’s flick on. Carroll was quickly off his line to block his shot, though.
County were still a threat, and Thompson headed wide from a set piece on the hour mark, just before the Magpies introduced Leroy Lita with the first change of the night.
And it was the visitors who took the lead midway through the second half. Despite the U’s pressure, Campbell-Ryce worked his magic and sent over a cross for McCourt to send a diving header back past Walker to make it 1-0 to Notts.
The visitors had another sight of goal not long afterwards, when Osborne cleared McCourt’s cross, but Noble drove in a low shot that Walker saved well.
The U’s tried to change things up by introducing Fox and Healey for Moncur and Szmodics for the last fifteen minutes, and it paid dividends as the home side started to turn the screw.
Bonne had an effort cleared off the line by Adams as it came to him on the edge of the box, and that was his last action before being replaced by Jack Marriott.
The U’s were unable to maintain the strength of their forward thrust as the game reached its final ten minutes, although they continued to win corners right into the dying minutes of the match.
County were to take the points, as the U's efforts to make the Weston Homes Community Stadium a fortress continue.