Southend United v Colchester United: U’s boss John McGreal wants a response from his players

Tom Eastman was powerful in the air against Oxford City, and he hit the bar with a first-half header

Tom Eastman was powerful in the air against Oxford City, and he hit the bar with a first-half header. He was Carl Marston's U's player of the match. ,Picture: PAGEPIX - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Colchester United boss, John McGreal, is keen to “draw a line” under Saturday’s embarrassing FA Cup exit, at the hands of non-league Oxford City, starting at Essex rivals Southend United tomorrow night.

Progress in the Checkatrade Trophy is not necessarily a priority for McGreal’s men, but a win at Roots Hall would see the U’s through to the knock-out stages of the competition, while also doing wonders to restore any lost confidence.

It will be more important for the U’s, knocked out of the Cup at the first hurdle by Matt Paterson’s 46th minute winner on Saturday, to return to winning ways at Barnet in League Two this weekend, yet McGreal will be looking for a response before then, in an Essex derby.

“We’ve got to draw a line under it (FA Cup defeat), because we have been doing particularly well in the league and we’ve got another cup competition on Tuesday,” said McGreal.

“We’ve got to get ourselves ready for that.

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“Last Saturday was a bad day for us because no one wants to get beaten by a non-league team.

“Of late, though, these boys have had some good things written about them. We let ourselves down, the club down and the fans down, and we’ve got to bounce back, because a defeat like that can be damaging to confidence, if you let it, absolutely.

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“Oxford performed better at the right stages of the game, while we needed a little bit more composure in front of goal.

“We’ve got to move on as a club. We couldn’t carry on our good league form into the FA Cup, so now we have to get right back on it and get ready for Southend.

“I thought possibly we were a bit fearful of losing on Saturday, and the performance was a bit tentative. That happens in football, it was so different to Crewe the previous week,” added McGreal, with reference to the 3-1 win over the Railwaymen.

So far in the Southern Section Group B of the Checkatrade Trophy, the U’s have drawn against Reading Under-21s (2-2) and lost to Gillingham (1-0), to leave them with two points.

The Gills (six points) are already through to the next stage. The U’s need to win tonight to join them – a draw and then an extra point from a penalty shoot-out success would be not enough, because Southend have a better goal difference (both sides would be on four pints).

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