JOHN McGreal has called for better game management from his Colchester United players following their home defeat against Grimsby Town.

The U's had led twice through Luke Prosser and Theo Robinson against the Mariners in the League Two clash, only to be twice pegged back and then concede a third goal, with Charles Vernam scoring a hat-trick in the 3-2 reverse.

McGreal said: "We have to manage the game better.

"We have enough experience on there and we go through training phases, to manage games.

"At the minute, we're getting caught from it.

"We have to be steely and determined, to win games of football.

"We have been that throughout the season but at the business end, you need that ruthlessness and we have to try and find that within.

"Certain individuals from Saturday to tonight (Tuesday) were way down in their performance levels.

"It was below par; it happens in football and you're not going to reach the peaks of what happened (against Plymouth).

"But we were doing more than enough to win a game of football and we've thrown it away."

Vernam's hat-trick helped inflict upon Colchester their first home league defence since last October.

It was the first time that the U's have conceded three times in the league since March, 2019.

Vernam's third goal was a magnificent solo effort, with the Grimsby attacker allowed to run from inside his own half before planting a low shot past U's goalkeeper, Dean Gerken.

"That's the difference between a team that wants to go places and a team that's letting someone dance past them," said McGreal.

"Even if you're on a yellow (card), it's a tactical foul for the team and you take it.

"It happens and Man City do it at the top level.

"We spoke about it the other week at Cambridge where the lad ran through and the boy (Vernam) has done exactly the same.

"There are things that you're trying to implement into the players.

"Sometimes, you think are they bright enough to take the information on, because we should be taking a tactical foul there."

Colchester will be aiming to bounce back this weekend when they travel to play ninth-placed Port Vale, on Saturday.

McGreal added: "I've said from day one that it's going to be a rollercoaster and it's definitely been that, over the last two weeks with a win and a loss, a win and a loss.

"But then we go again and the good thing is that there's an up and coming game, on Saturday.

"It's not as if we're running out of games but we now have two tough away games coming up and we have to try and win a game of football, on Saturday."