SO near and yet so far.

In the end, a single point was all that prevented Colchester United from extending their season to the play-offs, a potential Wembley trip and a possible League One return.

The U’s did all they had to do on the final day of the League Two and more, winning 3-0 at champions Lincoln City in front of nearly 700 of their supporters.

And for a long time, it looked as though fate was smiling on them, with rivals Newport County and Exeter City both failing to achieve their objective in their respective matches.

But Jamille Matt popped up in the 87th minute to grab a precious equaliser for the Exiles to salvage them a draw at Morecambe – and give them the precious point they needed to claim the coveted fourth and final play-off spot.

It was a cruel way for the U’s to miss out and players and supporters alike were naturally devastated, especially as for so long it looked as though they had achieved the near impossible.

But once the dust settles on their superb display at Lincoln – and the drama that ensued as a result – there will be time for contemplation and analysis of the season as a whole.

U’s boss John McGreal and his assistant manager Steve Ball will reflect on a campaign which had so many good elements and started and finished very strongly and for so long looked so promising but ultimately saw them fall short of their main target once again, with an eighth-place finish.

It promises to be a busy summer for McGreal, along with director of football Tony Humes and chairman Robbie Cowling.

There will inevitably be departures – at least one or two of whom are likely to be key players – and the U’s will have a list of players they will want to bring in to not only replace them but also replenish them for a fourth successive campaign in the fourth tier.

As McGreal said after the Lincoln win, there were plenty of positive moments to come out of the season and an impressive number of wins and clean sheets.

But the final table does not lie and there are also areas that need addressing.

This week will mark the beginning of preparations for the 2019-20 campaign – one where Colchester will be looking to have sealed at least a play-off spot long before the final day.