Steve Ball admitted his first-ever game in charge of Colchester United was an eventual affair.

Ball, who was last week named as new first-team coach John McGreal's assistant, took caretaker charge of the U's for their final match of the season which resulted in a 2-1 home defeat against Rochdale.

He was forced to change his starting line-up just before kick-off, after goalkeeper Dillon Barnes was stuck in traffic and fellow youngster James Bransgrove replaced him between the sticks.

He said: “It was a learning curve, for sure - anything that could have gone wrong, did go wrong.

“Dillon Barnes was in the team but he got stuck on the motorway and couldn’t play.

“James Bransgrove dislocated a finger in training so he was touch and go to even be on the bench, so he’s got to play but I thought he did well.”

Ball admitted Rochdale deserved their victory after Colchester bowed out of League One on a losing note following their defeat at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing gave Rochdale a first-half lead and although Joe Edwards equalised early in the second half, substitute Calvin Andrew came off the bench to score a fine winner for the visitors, with 21 minutes remaining.

Ball said: "I think the best side won.

“I thought we started quite well and we had a great chance when Macca (Bonne) could have put one away.

“But after that it was flat and it was a bit of a slow paced game and it was a hot day, which didn’t help.

“We picked up in the second half and got the equaliser but after that the game petered out a little bit.

“I think we can look back and say we could have done better in certain positions for both of the goals.

“Rochdale have got a potent attack and if you lose balls in areas like that, they’re going to punish you and they did so it was disappointing.

“There’s been some really good play at times this year and it was a great goal from Joe (Edwards) but it’s the other side of the game that we have to get better at – we all know that.

“Out of possession is everything and if we get that right, we know we have some creative players.”