Colchester United head coach John McGreal on Grimsby Town defeat

JOHN McGreal admitted losing 3-2 at home to Grimsby Town was a 'bitter' defeat for his Colchester United players to take.

The U's led twice through goals from skipper Luke Prosser and Theo Robinson, at the JobServe Community Stadium.

But the Mariners stormed back and Charles Vernam's hat-trick inflicted a first home league defeat on Colchester since mid-October.

Colchester remain fifth in League Two after their second league defeat in three matches but boss McGreal was left frustrated.

McGreal said: “It’s disappointing – we were in the lead at half-time and to throw that away in the second half was a bitter one to take.

“It’s a quiet enough dressing room as it is because they let themselves down individually, collectively and as a group.

“We got a good goal, conceded a poor one then got another good goal to get us the lead at half-time.

“We knew we needed to get a good start in the second half and we were comfortable.

“It’s definitely a foul (on Luke Prosser) for their second goal.

“He (James Hanson) has elbowed Luke and how the referee and the linesman haven’t seen it but I have to be careful.

“It was 2-2 and we were pushing but then we give the ball away high up in their defensive third and he (Charles Vernam) is allowed to run and score.

“Gerks (Dean Gerken) has put his hand up for the three goals and said he can do better.

“We should be dealing with all three goals.”

It was the second time in a row that Colchester have slipped up against bottom-half opponents after beating promotion rivals, following their wins over Swindon and Plymouth and subsequent defeats against Cambridge and now Grimsby.

McGreal added: "There's a recognition of when the bigger teams turn up, we tend to turn up (as) individuals and when the lesser teams turn up, individuals don't tend to turn up and that's proved it again, from Swindon to Cambridge to Plymouth to (Grimsby).

"The prep has been excellent - they made four or five changes but that doesn't affect how our we play."