COLCHESTER United head coach John McGreal admitted being delighted with full debutant Rekeil Pyke in Tuesday’s 2-0 success at home to Mansfield Town.

The Huddersfield Town loanee made his first start as a replacement for Owen Garvan, who has been carrying a knee injury over recent weeks.

Pyke, who joined in January, impressed as goals from Brennan Dickenson and Sammie Szmodics secured an important victory against the Stags.

And afterwards head coach John McGreal said: “I thought Rekeil was terrific.

“He’s a beast of a kid and I know the Huddersfield manager Mr (David) Wagner rates him very highly.

“They see him in and around their first team and we’re delighted that he’s now got his start.

“We had been thinking about giving him a start and we thought the (Mansfield) game was the perfect opportunity to do that against a man’s team and against two tough centre-halves.

“I thought he more than held his own, especially in the first half.

“You could see he ran out of a little bit of gas but we’re looking for him to conserve himself, recover and hopefully then he’ll be ready to go again on Saturday for us (at Crewe).”

McGreal believes his players “restored pride” after the disappointment of Saturday’s 4-0 defeat at home to Portsmouth.

Tuesday’s win left the U’s ninth in League Two and three points behind seventh-placed Exeter City.

“We can’t get away from what happened against Portsmouth, which was disappointing and we’ve had to pick them up,” said the Colchester boss.

“We’ve been really good at home but we put in a mediocre performance in that game where we got put to the sword a little bit.

“I hope it was a case of pride restored for us (after Saturday).

“It was a hard-working performance against a tough, tough team and I was over the moon to come away with three points.

“Would you rather have the three points or the performance, at this stage of the season?

“I’m sure a lot of the fans would have the three points, which are most important.

“The boys are thoroughly involved in what’s going on.

“They’re not daft and they want to keep going – once you get a young group around you and you have experienced players pushing them, you have half a chance.”