COLCHESTER United head coach John McGreal has challenged his players to turn performances into points as they go in search of their first League Two win of the season this afternoon, writes JAMES SPENCER.

The U's head into the game against Northampton Town at the JobServe Community Stadium still searching for their first League Two win of the season, having failed to win any of their opening four league matches.

McGreal said: “We haven’t got the points total – I totally understand that – but the performances have been there and everything we’ve been asking of the players has been there as well, that’s shown.

“We’re looking to get a good start, maintain it and then hopefully get the win.

“We’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing, because we believe in what we’re doing and it’s got us results over the years.

“We’ve been trying to get more goals and there was an improvement on that, at Grimsby.

“We’ve been saying we wanted a fast start and we’ve got it, so the last two games have been an improvement in that regard.

“We haven’t got the rewards for it but the performances have definitely been there.

“We just need that little bit of lady luck but we have to find that ourselves by putting ourselves in the right positions at the right time, both defending and attacking."

Colchester host the Cobblers ahead of Tuesday’s trip to face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

“We don’t even look at the Palace game. We’ll take that game into isolation after the Northampton match,” McGreal said.

“I keep taking advice from managers since the first day I took over.

"You’ve literally got to take it game by game. It’s the old adage I know but I can’t look forward beyond Northampton."

McGreal has stressed the importance of winning today - not only to achieve lift off in the league but to create a platform for the Carabao Cup clash.

He said: “Our bread and butter is the league. Northampton are going to be tough so all our focus is on Saturday.

“We want to get the win in the league as much as we can. Hopefully that will then give us a little bit of an injection to take into the cup.

"It’s a nice draw for the boys and for the club as the tickets are selling well so there’s going to be a good following, but Northampton is a big game for us.”

The U’s have endured a frustrating start to the season.

They began with a 1-1 draw with Port Vale on the opening day before suffering a tight 1-0 defeat away to Plymouth.

A 3-0 home win in the Carabao Cup against Swindon brought smiles back.

But late goals conceded against Cambridge United and Grimsby have denied his side from winning positions - but McGreal is remaining positive.

He said: “We just need that little bit of lady luck but we’ve got to earn that ourselves.

"By putting ourselves in the right positions at the right times in defence and attack.

“Yes, we haven’t got the points we wanted I totally understand that but the performances and improvements have been there.

"If we can get a good start and maintain it, then hopefully we can get the win on Saturday."

McGreal also emphasised the importance of obtaining a first clean sheet in the league today.

He said: “We’ve been looking at the stats and we rarely had shots against us but we’ve conceded four poor goals in the last two games.

"We need to tighten up and get that defensive solidity back that we had last year.

“Those clean sheets were a main part of our work last year. That foundation to build a win.

"We need to get that back but also continue to be a threat up top as well.”

Summer signing Paris Cowan-Hall has been training and could be available for the first time this season, having been out with an Achilles injury.

But central midfield duo Tom Lapslie and Harry Pell remain sidelined and left-back Cohen Bramall is still suspended.

McGreal added: “It’s disappointing to lose two big players we had last year in Tom Lapslie and Harry Pell.

"But then again, I do think Ben (Stevenson) and Coms (Brandon Comley) have done particularly well in there.

“We’re hoping they’ll get back fit, to give that competition in there."