COLCHESTER United finished 13th in League Two, this season.

The U’s ended up 13 points off the play-off places with 62 points, seven points fewer than their tally of last season.

It was Colchester’s lowest league finish for 24 years and they finished 12th in both the home and away form tables.

In part one of the Daily Gazette’s big interview with John McGreal, the U’s head coach looks back on another eventful season.

COLCHESTER United head coach John McGreal feels missed opportunities in games played a key part in preventing them from finishing any higher than mid-table, this season.

While the U’s improved on their defensive record in the 2017-18 campaign, they scored 14 fewer goals than last time around, the sixth-worst scoring record in the division.

“It’s not as if the opportunities haven’t arisen – we’ve had them in every single game and we haven’t been able to take them,” said McGreal.

“I firmly believe that we haven’t been that far away and some of the performances have been fantastic.

“It just comes down to that money end of the pitch and we haven’t scored enough goals.

“Defensively, we have the fifth or sixth-best defensive record in the league.

“We’ve tried to tighten that up and I think we’ve done that, over the last two seasons.

“We haven’t been that far away performance-wise but we have points-wise and we’ll try and improve on that.

“When you don’t score enough goals, your defence does tend to mirror it up a little bit and I think that’s happened.

“We haven’t conceded as many goals as last season and it’s another challenge for our defenders, next season, to improve that again.

“We didn’t improve on our goalscoring record this year and we’ll definitely try to do that, next year.

“I think if you marry both of them up, you give yourself a fantastic chance to get yourself in and around that top seven.”

Colchester picked up 12 fewer points at home this season, compared to the 2016-17 campaign.

They also managed five fewer wins and 13 fewer goals at the Community Stadium, in comparison to the previous season.

Colchester’s home form in the second half of the season was particularly disappointing and it did not help that they managed just four points from a possible 18 in their final six home games with just three goals scored, a run that included four defeats in front of their own fans.

“The home form has been a little bit disappointing, because we do tend to pride ourselves on it,” admits McGreal.

“We need to get back to our home being a fortress that we had for 18 months of the 24.

“A few times, we started games well and got early goals but not taken our chances to go on and win them.

“We’ve been ahead a couple of times and been clawed up.

“When we’ve got the second goal, we’ve tended to go on and win but when it’s only one ahead, we were a little bit tentative and you can hear it a little bit amongst the crowd as well.

“It gets a little bit edgy – we are still a young team and we do need the fans to stick right behind us as they have done a lot of the time.

“But there have also been performances where we haven’t warranted anything out of the game, like Barnet.

“Our home form filtered away a little bit and we had a couple of defeats against lower-placed opposition.

“The Cheltenham game in January was a bit of a killer game.

“We had the same bodies at that time and I think that took a lot out of us, mentally.

“It did knock us a little bit and it took us a little bit of time to get back from that.”

In contrast, Colchester improved their form on their travels, this season.

The U’s picked up five extra points away from home compared to the previous campaign, winning seven times at the likes of Swindon Town, Newport County and Crawley Town.

“We knew that we had to improve on the away form and I think we did,” said McGreal.

Colchester’s season finished in disappointing fashion, with just one point gained from their last five matches in League Two.

The U’s lost four of those fixtures, albeit against sides going for either automatic promotion or a play-off spot.

McGreal said: “In every game that we’ve played against the top four or five sides, we’ve come away with most possession, most efforts on goal, key moments in games where we could be going 2-0 up if not 1-0 up and we haven’t been able to do that.

“That was the case not all season but in the last month, especially after getting those three wins over the Easter period really set us up.

“We just failed in not getting the points we needed, in the last month alone.

“I’ll look at the positives as well as the negatives and there’s been a lot of good in this season.

“There’s a philosophy and an identity about the football club and wherever you go, you know that you can look a Colchester team now and say, ‘yeah, this is what they’re good at’.

“We know what we have to build on but there’s been some top performances, both for the team and for individuals.”