COLCHESTER United head coach Steve Ball insists he ‘feels the pain’ of the club’s supporters after their 1-0 defeat at Crawley Town extended their winless run to 12 matches.

The U’s have dropped to 20th in League Two after a stoppage-time goal by James Tilley condemned them to defeat at the People’s Pension Stadium.

Some Colchester fans have been quick to voice their frustration following Colchester’s defeat and boss Ball says he understands their disappointment, after their miserable run of form.

Ball said: “No-one more than me is feeling their pain.

“All I can tell them is what we told the players in the changing room – that we’re fighting and we’re trying to get through this rut.

“We thought we’d done a little bit with the last two draws, coming back against Mansfield and securing a good point at Orient but today sets you back again.

“All I can say is that there will be a complete and utter breakdown of what happened and why we’re not hitting the levels we were at the start of the year and we have to get out of it.

“It’s a game we wanted to win today.

“We’re not in form and they’re not in form and we felt we could come here and win the game.

“At 0-0 in the 92nd minute, you just think ‘OK, it’s a point again on the board again away from home’ and you take it and you move on and look at where you could have been better.

“But the way that it’s finished is a real bitter pill to swallow.”

Colchester looked like they would take a point from a scrappy game which was lacking in quality, not helped by a bobbly pitch and windy conditions.

However, substitute Tilley struck home deep into added time at the end to leave the U’s empty-handed.

“There’s disappointment in the changing room right now and there’s some anger too with the way the goal was conceded,” said Ball.

“It’s really hurting right now, for sure.

“It was a really strong wind today and they were really difficult conditions.

“We contained them in the first half against a strong wind and we felt in the second half, we could be higher up the pitch and play in their half a lot.

“It was a messy game from start to finish and I’m not sure that there was much quality.

“We had a couple of shots with Reme and a couple of moments where we could have put people in one on one when we didn’t and then we conceded a sucker punch goal.”

Colchester were caught out late on by Crawley’s winner, struck home by Tilley after he had been picked out on the edge of the area by Tom Nichols’ pass.

The U’s felt they should have had a free-kick seconds earlier after substitute Michael Folivi appeared to be fouled on the edge of the Crawley area but Ball said that was not an excuse for the manner in which they conceded a late winner.

Ball added: “We should have defended better for the goal.

“We were trying to play with the ball in areas and bring it down in our own half on a bobbly pitch and on a windy day where we should be playing a territory game.

“We had to do that today and we did that for most of the game but we didn’t in the end and it’s cost us.

“We all retreated back to the six-yard box looking at the cross across the face and (James) Tilley held himself back and it was a good finish.

“It’s very hard to go back now on refereeing decisions.

“It was a foul (on Michael Folivi) and everyone could see it was a foul – we don’t get it and they break away.

“We foul their player and then they score two minutes later.

“That’s the way it’s going right now but we have to remain strong and remain positive and try and get out of this rut we’re in.”