JUBILANT Colchester United head coach John McGreal was full of praise for his players after they sealed a League Cup quarter-final place for the first time since 1974.

The U's battled back to win 3-1 at Crawley Town to progress to the last eight of the Carabao Cup for only the second time in their history.

Goals from Luke Norris, Luke Gambin and an own goal from goalkeeper Michael Luyambula sealed Colchester's win at Broadfield Stadium, after Dannie Bulman had given the Reds a first-half lead.

It sealed Colchester's passage into Thursday morning's quarter-final draw, much to the delight of boss McGreal.

McGreal said: "I can't credit the boys enough.

"I think it was our 22nd game of the season tonight and the subs were just as important as those who started.

"We knew it was coming round and we knew that this was a tough place for us.

"We started slowly and you have to give Crawley credit, because they started well.

"They turned over a lot of ball and they scored a great goal.

"The important thing was to get that equaliser and Noubs (Frank Nouble) crossed to Nos (Luke Norris) to get it for us.

"Then we were able to play a bit of football and after our slow start, I thought that we thoroughly deserved it.

"When it went to 1-1, I thought we were calm and collected and were able to play our football.

"That was the big thing and we were able to play our football at the right time and not get away from what we do."

The final whistle sparked wild celebrations among the 1,700-plus Colchester fans, after their side made it through to the last eight.

"I'm trying to get the fans off the pitch because I'm trying to get all of our boys who appreciate the fans," said McGreal.

"When you get 1,700 of our fans coming over the bridge and supporting us, we want to appreciate them.

"The main thing is that they're going home delighted and some of the boys weren't even born in 1974! "I'm sure they'll be having a good night tonight."

The Carabao Cup quarter-final draw will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 2 on Thursday morning, at around 8.45am.

McGreal added: "I like the home games and I think every manager does.

"I think the chairman might like a big away one but we've done our job - that's the main thing and we can now look forward to the next round.