BARNSLEY’S hopes of reaching the League One play-offs were dealt a hammer blow as they threw away an interval lead at relegation-threatened Colchester.
Lee Johnson’s men are now seven points adrift of the top six thanks to a second straight loss.
Johnson said: “My players should be very disappointed in themselves. We’ve got to stamp out that soft underbelly.”
Barnsley opened the scoring five minutes before the break after they had dominated during their first visit to the U’s Weston Homes Community Stadium.
Stoke City loanee George Waring – recalled as Jabo Ibehre was unable to feature against his parent club – bundled home Conor Hourihane’s free-kick.
Earlier Hourihane had seen a shot blocked by defender Bongali Khumalo, and Waring leapt well before heading narrowly wide.
At the other end, recalled goalkeeper Adam Davies saved well from Jacob Murphy and Chris Porter.
Murphy crossed in low for Gavin Massey, who slid in to beat Davies from close range for the equaliser. Murphy scored himself to hand the hosts the lead with 10 minutes to go, heading home clinically past Davies.
Any hopes Barnsley had of rescuing a point were ended in the 86th minute when George Moncur wrapped up the win.
Colchester United: Walker, Brindley, Khumalo, Eastman, Wynter, Moncur, Szmodics (Gilbey, 56), Lapslie, Porter, Massey, Murphy. Unused substitutes: Lewington, Vincent-Young, Harney, Healey, Bonne, Sembie-Ferris.
Barnsley: Davies, Holgate, Cranie, Nyatanga, John, Scowen, Bailey (Winnall, 76), Pearson, Hourihane (Berry, 90), Lalkovic (Stewart, 71), Waring. Unused substitutes: Dibble, Smith, Ramage, Hemmings.
Referee: Keith Hill (Hertfordshire).