COLCHESTER United assistant manager Steve Ball felt his side were "more than competitive" and could be proud of their East Anglian derby success against Ipswich Town.

Ryan Clampin's late goal separated the sides when they met in a Trophy match at the JobServe Community Stadium on Tuesday night.

It meant the U's finished top of Southern Group A and will definitely be at home when the draw for the last 32 is made on Saturday.

Ball felt it was a tough, even and hard-fought contest.

But he felt his players acquitted themselves well against a surprisingly strong Ipswich team.

"I thought we were more than competitive throughout the game and in the second half, especially, we were the better team," he said.

"In terms of entries into the final third, they had 30 in total and we had 26.

"Twelve of ours were in the second half and that tells its own story.

"(Goalkeeper) Ethan Ross only had one save to make, in the first half, and the overall possession stats were 51-49 to Ipswich.

"Both of us had one shot on target and that shows what a tight, even game it was.

"Clamps' goal was a bit of a freak but he deserves credit for the way he committed himself to the tackle, going in firmly.

"He got his rewards.

"It was great to nick a winner and we were delighted to win the group.

"We were up against two League One teams, including our local rivals, in addition to Spurs' under-21s.

"So to finish top was a real achievement and something we were very proud of."

Ball admitted he and head coach John McGreal were surprised by the strength of the Ipswich team.

The Blues fielded several first-team regulars, including Tomas Holy, James Wilson, Myles Kenlock, Gwion Edwards and Emyr Huws.

"John and I were surprised by their teamsheet, to be honest," said Ball.

"We thought they were going to field a very young side and also thought they'd bring their young players on earlier, instead of for the last few minutes.

"They kept their strongest team out there for the bulk of the match and that shows how seriously they took it.

"Ipswich are a team we know well and obviously we play every year in a pre-season friendly.

"But this was a very meaningful, competitive fixture and one that was great to win.

"Now we've got a home tie to look forward to and that's a real bonus.

"We do so much travelling and have a hectic schedule, so to be at home in the next round is brilliant."

Ball was full of praise for the Colchester supporters, who responded to the club's rallying cry and turned out in force to get behind their team.

"The Ipswich fans were brilliant and really played their part in creating an atmosphere," he said.

"But our fans deserve so much credit, too.

"There were 2,300 of them there and they were superb.

"To get a crowd of over 5,000 shows the importance of the game."