COLCHESTER United head coach Hayden Mullins was left to lament the ‘soft goal’ his side conceded in losing 1-0 at home to Northampton Town, this afternoon.

The U’s were beaten by the Cobblers at the JobServe Community Stadium, after Jon Guthrie netted a first-half winner for the visitors from a set-piece.

After a below-par first-half display, Colchester improved after the break but they were unable to muster an equaliser, to slip to defeat.

Mullins said: “Football is a cruel game sometimes but we didn’t help ourselves, in the first half.

“We were too flat and we allowed them to control the tempo of the game.

“They slowed it down every opportunity they had, with every throw and every free-kick, every goal-kick – it was just so slow and there was no flow to the game in the first half.

“They got their goal which was poor from us and they held onto it.

“We were good in the second half, very good and we created a number of chances.

“The goal gave them something to hang onto and there was a lot of gamesmanship from there with them slowing the game down.

“For their goal, the defenders have got to defend it out until the ball is cleared and it was a really soft goal that we conceded.

“Then we’re always trying to force the issue and I don’t think we really did it, in the first half.

“We didn’t really get the tempo going and we got sucked into their game plan.

“We spoke to the boys at half-time and we said that the tempo has got to be lifted and we need to be more on the front foot.

“We got that and in the second half, the majority of the game was played in their half.

“It was exactly what we needed and we needed to force the issue at home and take the game to them and we missed some great chances.”

The likes of Brendan Wiredu, Freddie Sears and Frank Nouble all came close for Colchester, after the break.

The U’s produced a much-improved second-half display but an equaliser was not forthcoming.

Mullins added: “It was a big plus that we kept going but the major disappointment is that we’ve lost our first home game.

“They’re not a bad side and they’ve just been relegated.

“We knew that they were going to come here and stifle the game and that’s the big disappointment for me.

“Brendan came inside on his left foot with his shot and he’s been working on that – he was unlucky.

“Then Freddie went through one on one and you think he’ll tuck it away but the goalkeeper has done well but we should score.

“It was unlucky for Fred and sometimes when you go through, they’re the worst ones.

“There’s a little bit too much time to think about it.”