COLCHESTER United suffered late heartbreak this afternoon after missing out on a League Two play-off place - despite comprehensively beating champions Lincoln City 3-0 on their own turf.

Sammie Szmodics' brace and Brennan Dickenson's strike gave the U's a superb victory at Sincil Bank, in front of nearly 700 U's fans.

But Newport County's late equaliser at Morecambe meant the Exiles grabbed the final play-off place that was up for grabs and not the U's.

Colchester boss John McGreal made one change to his side for their game against Lincoln City.

Mikael Mandron was recalled in attack in place of Abo Eisa, with Frank Nouble switching to a wide position.

There was no place on the bench for Luke Norris, while Kane Vincent-Young missed out due to an abdominal injury.

Colchester knew that they had to beat newly-crowned champions Lincoln and also hope that Newport lost at Morecambe and Exeter dropped points at Forest Green, in order to make the play-offs.

And the U’s played like a side hugely motivated in the opening 45 minutes, saving arguably their best half of football until the final day of the season.

They had a great chance to score in the ninth minute when Mandron's effort from point-blank range from Ryan Jackson's cross was saved by keeper Josh Vickers before the Frenchman blasted the rebound over when he should have scored.

And three minutes later, Mandron went close again when his sliding low effort flew straight at Vickers after Courtney Senior had burst from inside his own half and picked him out in the area.

Colchester were the better team and they made the crucial breakthrough in the 21st minute when Brennan Dickenson’s first-time effort from Sam Saunders’ corner flew into the far corner of the net.

Lincoln almost replied immediately when Neal Eardley’s free-kick from 20 yards dipped just over the bar.

But Colchester doubled their lead in the 27th minute when Szmodics stormed in to head home Jackson's cross past Vickers and in.

The U’s were in fine form and it was almost 3-0 with eight minutes of the first half remaining when Szmodics’ low shot from Senior’s short pass bounced back off the post.

Colchester looked more like the champions than their hosts in the first half, although Matt Rhead's far post header from Bruno Andrade's deep cross flew over the bar.

But the U’s went further ahead two minutes before the break when Szmodics closed down Vickers' attempted clearance and tapped into the empty net, to send their fans behind the goal into ecstasy.

Boos rang out from the home crowd at the half-time whistle as the U’s went into the interval ahead, knowing that with other scores elsewhere going their way they were in the play-offs with 45 minutes to go.

Nouble's fierce effort at the near post was saved by Vickers in the opening minutes of the second half, as the U's went in search of more goals.

The U's had a let off ten minutes after the break when goalkeeper Ethan Ross inexplicably picked up Jackson’s back-pass in the area but the visitors survive the resulting free-kick inside the box.

Just after the hour mark, Mandron skipped past two challenges in the area before blazing over the bar while at the other end, Ross easily collected Andrade's close-range effort, with 12 minutes to go.

U's skipper Frankie Kent cleared off the line with 11 minutes to go after Andrade had escaped the attention of the U's defence and raced clear, as Lincoln pushed for a goal back.

Cain Bolger hit a post for the hosts late on but Colchester agonisingly missed out on a play-off place, after Jamille Matt's late equaliser gave Newport the vital point they needed at Morecambe.