COLCHESTER United boss John McGreal admitted being “bewildered” by his side's heartbreaking 2-1 defeat against Cambridge United.

The U’s made a dream start to Saturday’s League Two contest, taking a ninth-minute lead thanks to a confident penalty by Luke Norris.

But they failed to add a second – despite dominating the first half – and that proved pivotal.

Cambridge were on level terms ten minutes into the second half, thanks to a headed leveller from Marc Richards.

And their winner came four minutes from time, when Dean Gerken was unable to keep out an acrobatic effort from Harry Darling.

“Before they scored, we were running away with the game,” said a frustrated McGreal.

“We were dominating and pulling them all over the place.

“We played some brilliant football and got into great areas but should have been more clinical.

“Despite having 16 to 18 shots, only three or four were on target. That tells its own story.

“We needed to start getting on the end of things and making their goalkeeper work.

“We got into some really good positions but slashed at things, sending shots wide, or didn’t pick people out when they were better placed.

“I’m bewildered as to how we lost and it was tough to take.”

While disappointed by his side’s inability to score more goals, he was also frustrated with the two they conceded.

“We say it every week – you have to stop crosses, defend your box and defend your back post,” he said.

“That’s what we work on in training but we didn’t do that for the first goal.

“Then their second goal came from a ball into the box that should have been dealt with.

“We worked so hard to get ourselves into a winning position but threw it all away.

“Dean’s an honest boy and he’s held his hands up for that goal (Cambridge’s second).

“But before that, they still had the first two touches in the box.

“We should have dealt with the first and second phase before his shot came in.”

One positive was the performance of young full-back Ryan Clampin, who made his full debut, having only previously appeared as a substitute in a Checkatrade Trophy game against Southampton’s under-21s.

“Clamps has been in and around the squad and it was a really good start for him,” said McGreal, who takes his side to Grimsby Town on Tuesday night.

“It just would have been nice to cap it with a win.

“Instead, we’ve come away with nothing, despite dominating large parts of the game.”