By Tony Leighton
The dreadful recent weather has been playing havoc with fixtures for the lower division teams, none more so than Sky Bet League 1 side Colchester United.
No side in League 1 or League 2 has been so badly affected as the U's, who went more than three weeks without a game before Tuesday evening's visit to Port Vale.
So it was perhaps no surprise, 24 days after their excellent 4-2 win at Carlisle United, that Joe Dunne's team went down 2-0 to promotion chasing Vale.
Defeat meant that, after being eight points below the Play-Off places before their weather-enforced break, the U's now sit just four points above the drop zone.
Manager Dunne was far from disheartened, however, as he assessed his team's performance and prospects following the frustrating run of postponements.
Dunne told football-league.co.uk: "It was a disappointing result for us, but I'm very encouraged by what I've seen.
"For the first 30 minutes or so we admittedly did look like a team who were a bit rusty after not playing for over three weeks.
"But I thought that we threatened to score all the way through the second half and we were unfortunate not to do so.
"We had some really good passages of play. We kept the ball well, moved it around well and technically we were excellent at times.
"I know we didn't score on this occasion, but a lot of people will have seen why we have been scoring so many goals."
The U's have indeed been hitting the back of the net - 13 times in the four wins they had collected in the six games before their defeat at Vale Park.
So, although their promotion hopes have taken a huge hit in the past three weeks as they now sit 14 points below the top six, Dunne remains positive.
"There are still a lot of games to play," noted the manager, "and we are looking forward to the rest of the season.
"I'm not going to get down about anything. We were making good progress before the postponements and I'm confident that the boys can keep improving.
"It won't be a case of picking them up after losing this game because they know they played well. We've got a lot to look forward to."
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