Barnet slipped into the relegation zone following their 13th game without a win as a superb 84th-minute strike by Colchester United’s Sammie Szmodics' condemned Rossi Eames’ side to their ninth league defeat of the season.

The Bees were able to welcome back John Akinde, last season’s top goalscorer, for his first start of the season and fit-again keeper Jamie Stephens and Shaq Coulthirst were also in the starting line-up.

Coulthirst and Akinde showed promising signs that they might be able to build a fruitful combination when they worked well together in the opening minutes.

Akinde’s physical presence was a major asset for the home side, who looked less potent when he was substituted after 70 minutes.

The first half was very even, both sides effectively cancelling each other out with the game rarely giving either set of fans much to get excited about.

A Ryan Watson free-kick went close for the Bees, a Simeon Akinola snap-shot went high over the bar and a trademark Akinde surge from deep gave Barnet hope that they could secure a much-needed victory, but unsurprisingly the game was scoreless at the interval.

The game picked up a little in second half with both tyeams sensing that victory was theirs for the taking as neither side was able to dominate.

Mauro Vilhete was a bundle of energy in midfield, tackling back and running forward with the ball, while Akinola forced a save out of U’s keeper Sam Walker with a shot destined for the bottom corner.

Colchester responded with a sweeping move of their own as Stephens had to keep out Ryan Inniss’ shot from close range with his feet.

There was a spell around the hour mark when both outfits managed to put some coherent play together and the quality of the game improved significantly, but this period was brief.

As a precaution Akinde, who was tiring, was replaced by Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro with 20 minutes remaining but Barnet were never the same again.

Then Bees’ fate was sealed when Jack Taylor was dispossessed by Tom Eastman in midfield before Szmodics cut in from the right before unleashing an unstoppable shot with his left foot from outside the penalty area.

The travelling Colchester support were now jubilant - the Barnet fans anything but.

Barnet: Stephens, Santos, Nelson, Clough, Watson, Vilhete, J.Taylor, Tutonda (Blackman 78), Coulthirst, Akinde (Akpa Akpro 70), Akinola (Nicholls 63). Subs not used: Bover, H.Taylor, Fonguck, Ross.