CAMBRIDGE United manager Colin Calderwood hailed the character and perseverance of his players as they recovered from an “absolutely dreadful” first half to run out 2-1 winners at Colchester United.

The hosts dominated the first half of Saturday’s League Two contest and drew first blood thanks to a ninth-minute penalty from Luke Norris.

But Cambridge stepped up a gear after the break and spun the contest on its head thanks to goals from Marc Richards and substitute Harry Darling.

“We were absolutely dreadful in the first half and fortunate to only be one behind,” said an honest Calderwood.

“Nothing went right for any of us.

“Even the manager and coaches got everything wrong.

“We looked so leggy and tired and it was probably my fault for playing one or two who put a big shift in on Tuesday.

“However, the substance of the victory was a bit of perseverance and a bit of luck.

“We then played very well in the second half and I was obviously delighted with the result.

“We’ve got lots of work and thinking to do but the emotion right now is one of genuine happiness.

“These are the moments that allow you to build your points tally out of nothing because if ever you could win a game despite having no dominance, no quality and no energy, this was a prime example.

“It was down to personality and character.”

Colchester made a dream start thanks to Norris’ penalty, awarded after a foul by Paul Lewis on Ben Stevenson.

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

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