Crawford concerned that recent struggles have finally caught up with Colchester

Mansfield Town v Colchester United – Sky Bet League Two – One-Call Stadium – Saturday (12:30pm) – Preview

Ray Crawford admitted he is now seriously fearful for Colchester United’s EFL future following a winless run that stretched back seven matches.

Cameron McGeehan’s second-half strike earned the U’s a share of the spoils against Walsall last time out. However, a missed penalty by Noah Chilvers saw the North Essex outfit miss out on a rare victory and leave them teetering precariously above the relegation zone, above Forest Green Rovers on goal difference.

“My biggest fear was that we would end up in a mini-league of four or five teams, but with Salford and Grimsby putting on a spurt, it appears to be three – U’s, Forest Green and Sutton,” Crawford told Yellow Sport.

“Our point against Walsall, coupled with Sutton beating Forest Green has kept us above the dotted line. But it’s too close to call, We’ve got to play for of the top five during our remaining nine League Two matches. I’ve always tried to be positive, but I can’t see us beating any of them right now.”

And that run of fixtures starts with a trip to leaders Mansfield Town on Saturday, a side fresh from a 5-1 walloping of Bradford City and who have won twenty and drawn twelve of their thirty-eight matches to date.

“It’s going to be difficult getting anything there, and that goes without saying,” Crawford added.

“I’ve seen it suggested that it could be a damage limitation exercise, but the position we are in, we can’t priorities matches. We need to get three points from somewhere, however unlikely that might seem.

“The management team are saying all the right things and has issued several battle cries. But if they haven’t got the tools for the job then together, we are sunk.

“That said, the amount of drawn matches continues to suggest it is fine margins. The players need to stand up and be counted right now. Find an extra ten per cent. Professionally, surely they won’t want a relegation on their CV? I hope that is the case and they give our long-suffering supporters every effort until the season is done.

“Mansfield are five points clear at the top and I expect them to win the league. But they have lost two of their last four, so there is a vulnerability.

“Unfortunately, I think we are travelling more in hope than expectation. But hope is all we, as supporters, have right now. I’m sticking my neck out in an act of faith – backing the boys to get something. It’s going to be a long couple of months.”

Ray Crawford’s prediction: Mansfield Town 1-1 Colchester United

Jeevesie’s prediction: Mansfield Town 3-0 Colchester United

Brian Jeeves