The U’s made four changes to their starting eleven from the defeat against Brentford – with three of them in the back four and two of them enforced. John White was a late absentee through illness, whilst Tom Eastman was missing with a groin injury.
But an early goal conceded and a mistake for the crucial second in the game meant that it was another bitter pill to swallow for Joe Dunne and his side as the search for a win goes on.
Had you missed the opening and end of the game, it would have been easy to think that the U's had got something out of the match.
Despite being on top in the middle forty-five minutes of the game at Crawley Town on New Year's Day, the U's fell to their seventh successive defeat to begin 2013 with a 3-0 reverse.
It was a fairly even start on a surprisingly dry pitch, as Wright had the first chance of the game. The winger drifted in off the wing and fired in a low shot that had the keeper scrambling, but it went wide of goal.
However, the U’s found themselves behind after just five minutes. A free kick was drifted into the far post and headed back across goal and, after Cousins pulled off a superb stop, Connolly was on hand to slam home the follow up.
They could have been two down not long afterwards as a run towards goal was not closed down and he fired in a low cross that was struck towards goal by Jones and it hit his own man in Clarke and it went away to safety.
The U’s were well under the cosh early on, but they had their first sight of goal on sixteen minutes. Wilson helped it to Massey, who drove in a low cross to Morrison. He in turn passed back to Wordsworth, whose shot was well blocked.
The game settled down somewhat, but Crawley went close again on 25 minutes as Akpan showed some fancy footwork on the edge of the box and forced a fine save out of Cousins.
Wilson embarked on a lungbursting run down the right and into the Crawley box and his low, squared cross just missed Wordsworth and Bean in the middle.
It was the start of a better spell for the U’s, and they finished the first half strongly with another good piece of work by Wright setting up Potts for a low cross into the area which could have been turned in by two or three players but was eventually cleared.
They went in one behind at half time but with plenty to be enthused by – and their fans had seen enough to be encouraged by as the second period got underway.
They started the second period brightly and Wright used his electric pace to dart in off the wing and slide it into Massey. He helped his shot over the bar, but the offside flag had gone up anyway.
Young winger Wright was being entrusted with a lot of possession by the senior pros around him, and he was rewarding them by creating danger for the visitors.
He slid another brilliant ball through to Massey on 55 minutes, and the winger lifted the ball over Jones but as the ball went across goal, no one was on the end of it to tuck home.
Next the U’s had a free kick that was not fully cleared by the home side and it fell to Wordsworth. He drifted right to left but he couldn’t dink his cross high enough to give a U’s player a chance to head home.
It was not all in Colchester’s favour though and a ball was lifted over the U’s defence on the hour mark and Clarke lashed in a volley that Cousins did well to get down and stop.
The former U’s loanee did have the ball in the back of the net on 65 minutes, but his celebrations were cut short as the linesman raised his flag.
Gavin Massey made way for Jack Compton midway through the second half as the U’s introduced the winger for his U’s debut.
The U’s good work over the course of forty-odd minutes was undone with twenty minutes to go, though.
Wilson’s backpass to Cousins was bobbling and, although his pass back out to the full back beat the onrushing Alexander, Clarke nipped in to take it off Wilson’s toes and smash home for 2-0.
It was to prove to be a killer blow for the U's already fragile confidence and they were left with not enough time to fight back into the match.
And the home side made it three with three minutes remaining of the game. Adams beat Okuonghae to the ball and he had the composure to lift the ball over Cousins and into the back of the net.