Colchester United manager John McGreal was delighted with the effort from his young team against Aston Villa and hopes they can carry the momentum into Saturday’s game against Stevenage.
League Two Colchester gave a good account of themselves against Championship side Villa, in their Carabao Cup game at Weston Homes Community Stadium, narrowly falling to a 2-1 defeat.
After a disappointing opening day 3-1 loss to Accrington Stanley, the performance on display restored a sense of positivity in Essex as United target a return to League One – the division they fell out of two seasons ago.
“I thought our young boys – we have a young team – really gave a good account of themselves in the game tonight,” said McGreal after the Villa game.
“I’m already switching to Stevenage in a way.
“It’s been a great occasion, a great game for us in putting the club on the map.
“But we are already moving on to the Stevenage game – we’ve got one less day to recover and to prep.
“The boys will take the plaudits of what’s gone on but we’ve still lost a game of football.
“But they’ve put in a good show so hopefully now we can carry that momentum that we’ve gained tonight.”
Visitors Villa were heavy favourites going into Wednesday’s cup tie despite manager Steve Bruce making nine changes from their opening 1-1 draw against Hull City.
Striker Scott Hogan put the Villains ahead, after seven minutes, following an error from Colchester goalkeeper Sam Walker.
Later on young defender Frankie Kent turned Albert Adomah’s cross into his own net to hand Bruce’s side a 2-0 lead with 20 minutes on the clock.
Kent redeemed himself, as he managed to pull a goal back by redirecting Kyel Reid’s long range effort six minutes before half time, but Villa held on in the second half to advance to the next round of the cup.
While McGreal was understandably happy with the efforts from his team he also highlighted the importance of the bond between his players and the Colchester fan base.
“The rapport we’ve had with the fans, you’ve heard it tonight as well, is terrific,” he added.
“There’s a good bond between the players and the fans – let’s bring on Stevenage and hopefully bring it forward.”
Plenty of Colchester eyes were on new man Reid who made his debut following his loan arrival from Coventry City.
McGreal expressed his joy at being able to sign a player of his calibre but added there was plenty more to come from the 29-year-old winger.
“We tried to get Kyel early on in the off-season and it didn’t work out,” he said.
“I’m thoroughly made up now and pleased that we’ve got him in.
“I think he’ll bring that added bit of trickery, guile and also a little bit of experience we have been lacking because all our experienced boys are injured.
“I just thought you’ve seen little snippets of what Kyel can bring to our team tonight.”