Colchester United head coach John McGreal says his players responded well to his shake-up following their 1-1 draw at Mansfield Town.

Brandon Comley’s well-taken strike early in the second half cancelled out Kane Hemmings’ opener for the fifth-placed Stags to secure a point for a U’s side that featured five changes.

McGreal decided to shuffle his park after damaging back-to-back defeats, with Brennan Dickenson, Drey Wright, Tom Lapslie, Sammie Szmodics and Kurtis Guthrie all returning to the starting line-up.

He said: “We made five changes and it was a statement of intent.

“It’s one where we’ve had to address things and I think that showed in the performance, which was excellent.

“Teams are beating each other up and down this league, whether you’re at the top or the bottom and it’s a tough league.

“I don’t think it was any coincidence that we’ve got those good players who are coming back who are giving us that competition.

“We also changed the system and we’re quite easy to move into a 4-3-3 or a 4-2-3-1.

“They can adapt into that and they’ve worked on it throughout the week.

“I think they nailed it really, apart from when they got a bit sloppy in possession.

“But I’m not going to get after the boys for that – I want them to get after the ball and demand it and I think they proved that.

“We kept telling them to try and get on the ball with their width and their pace.

“I thought it was a great game for the neutral and to be involved in and a great spectacle for division two.

“I’m sure they were thinking they were going to get the win but I’m really proud of my boys.”

Hemmings’ opener for Mansfield midway through the first half came as a result of hesitancy at the back from Colchester.

But Comley’s strike got them back in the game and they produced an impressive second-half display, earning a draw that leaves them six points off the play-off positions with ten games remaining.