RETURNING captain Harry Pell insists Colchester United’s performance against Cambridge United was a ‘step in the right direction’.

The U’s performed well in difficult conditions to claim a point in a 1-1 draw, against their high-flying visitors.

Pell, who returned to Colchester’s starting line-up for the first time since November after recovering from a knee injury, was in impressive form on a slippery surface.

The U’s have gone six matches without a win in League Two but captain Pell believes their encouraging display against Cambridge will give them plenty of confidence, ahead of this weekend's trip to Morecambe.

He said: “I think everyone needs to take a bit of credit because the performance was there in very difficult circumstances.

“It’s a step in the right direction – we take the draw and we go on to Morecambe.

“We need to go there and win and back the performance up.

“Some of our talented boys dealt with the situation really well and credit where credit’s due.

“I think we could have got the win, with a little bit more quality in the second half.

“It’s frustrating for us because we’ve put a lot of work in on the training ground on the way we want to play and then you turn up on a pitch like this and it all goes out of the window.

“Going out for the warm-up, I was adamant that the game was going to be off.

“The ball wasn’t rolling properly and over the far side, it was a bit of a mud bath really.

“But as soon as we knew that the game was on, we had a little chat in the changing room – it was important that that first touch went forward and we played forward.

“We’re renowned for being a football-based, possession-based team and we got it right, because it was really difficult and there were so many mis-placed passes but I thought we dealt with it really well.”

Pell had missed eight Colchester games, prior to returning for the Cambridge clash.

The 29-year-old admits watching from the sidelines has been a frustrating experience.

“It’s been tough for me sitting out recently,” said former Cheltenham Town midfielder Pell.

“It’s frustrating not playing and it’s even harder when you’re not winning games of football.

“When you’re winning games of football and you’re not in the team, you can sort of accept it and you move on to the week ahead and look forward to it.

“But when you’re not, you’re itching to get back and I’ve done everything I can to get back as quickly as I can, so I’m happy.

“Running out there, I had a massive smile on my face and I couldn’t wait for it!

“I really love these sort of games but if I’m being completely honest with you, after 70 minutes my legs were gone!”