HARRY Pell admits it will take a long time for him to recover from Colchester United’s play-off disappointment.

The popular midfielder is still smarting following the U’s painful semi-final second leg extra-time defeat at Exeter City.

Colchester were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by the Grecians, a result that resigned them to a fifth successive season in League Two.

And Pell admits the disappointment of losing out in such a manner will be tough to bounce back from.

Pell said: “It was a very tough one to take and it’s going to take a long time to get over.

“I’ve watched it back twice now and it doesn’t get any easier.

“I’m so gutted for everyone – everyone was lower than a snake’s belly at the end.

“The hardest thing was saying goodbye to the likes of Noubs, Pross and Jacko at the service station on the way home – that wasn’t nice.

“Reality has set in that we’ll be in League Two again, next season.”

It has been a memorable season for Colchester, who finished in sixth position after the League Two season was cut short because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

John McGreal’s side performed consistently in the league and also reached the Carabao Cup quarter-finals for only the second time in their history.

“It’s been a very good season and I think anyone with any kind of Colchester United connection can be proud of what we’ve done this year," said Pell.

“In the end, we fell a little bit short and we needed a bit of luck to go our way on the day, which didn’t happen.

“I don’t think we’ll forget this season, in a hurry.

“It’s been a gruelling season and an emotional rollercoaster - to lose out in the way we did was a sucker blow.

“The highs have been fantastic, like walking out at Old Trafford and seeing the lads beat Spurs but the situation we’ve just had is horrific.

“If we’d have got promotion, it would have been a fairytale of a season, with the cup run too.

“I think the whole club has to be proud of what we’ve achieved, this year.

“As Colchester fans, you can only ask your team to give their all and everyone has played their part.

“I’m gutted for the staff because like the players, they’ve put everything into it.

“I hope that we’ll be in a situation in Colchester next year to give it another go.”

Colchester were beaten 3-1 on the night at Exeter and 3-2 on aggregate, to lose out in their play-off semi-final.

They had a glorious chance to book their place at Wembley in the closing stages of normal time when Kwame Poku raced through on goal but was denied by Grecians keeper Jonny Maxted.

Pell said: “We didn’t start well but it wasn’t a lack of motivation or anything like that.

“I just don’t think we won our individual battles straight away and that allowed them to get into the game, like they did.

“KP (Kwame Poku) was devastated after the game but he’s 18 years old and I think he was our best player, on the day."

Meanwhile, Pell has revealed he was one of the four Colchester players and/or staff who tested positive for Covid-19, at the end of last month.

The former Cheltenham Town midfielder had to self isolate at home for seven days in line with the EFL protocols, as a result of the test outcome.

Pell added: “It was a strange one because I felt absolutely fine and I’d been out for a 10k run, two days before.

“I didn’t feel any different whatsoever but I missed ten days in the end, which was tough.

“It meant I was at home, trying to keep fit.

“When I came back in, I had seven or eight training days before the first leg."