Colchester United head coach John McGreal said he was proud of his players after they pushed Championship side Aston Villa all the way in their Carabao Cup tie.

The U's were beaten 2-1 at a rain-soaked Weston Homes Community Stadium in their first-round tie but Villa keeper Jed Steer was arguably the busiest of the two keepers and made several saves, the pick of which was a penalty stop to deny Mikael Mandron.

Scott Hogan gave Villa an early lead and Frankie Kent's own goal saw them go 2-0 up inside 19 minutes, amid suspicions of offside.

But Kent scored at the right end before half-time and Steer denied the likes of Sean Murray and Sammie Szmodics before the end, as the U's bowed out in front of a crowd of more than 6,600.

McGreal said: "I'm really pleased with the performance and the good thing was bouncing back after Saturday (and the defeat at Accrington).

"It was great to see the boys bounce back and the fans on our side, as we know they are.

“I think we showed a togetherness tonight, even after their first goal had gone in which came out of nothing.

“We bounced back straight away and showed a bit of character but then it went to 2-0 and we could have crumbled.

“But we bounced back again and I’m really proud of the players.

“I think the fans were on their feet at times and it was one of those games.

“We were in the game at 2-1 and a little bit of lady luck late on might have given us a chance.

“It did but we didn’t take it but I was thoroughly pleased with the performance.

“We missed a penalty but that happens and we had opportunities after that when we got into good areas.

“It was great experience and a great game to watch – we can take a lot of heart and confidence out of the performance.”