Colchester United host Exeter City in the League Two play-off semi-final first leg tomorrow night

COLCHESTER United head coach John McGreal wants his promotion-chasing players to generate their own special atmosphere and make home advantage count against Exeter City.

The U’s are preparing to host the Grecians behind closed doors tomorrow night, in their League Two play-off semi-final first leg.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic there will be no Colchester supporters at the JobServe Community Stadium, as the U's bid to gain a positive result to take into the second leg at St James Park, next Monday.

But boss McGreal has called on his players to make up for any lack of ambience in the ground by making their own kind of noise – on the pitch.

McGreal said: “It’s going to be different but when it comes to it, it’s still a play-off game and an opportunity to get promoted.

“That’s what we’ve been trying to put into the players and to go and play our way of football.

“Even though there’s not going to be an atmosphere here, we have to try and generate our own atmosphere and the vibes have been excellent.

“There’s no supporters anywhere; it's a home tie but it’s a little bit surreal and I don’t think anyone’s been in this position before.

“We have to prep for it as it is our home game and we want to try and make the most of it.

“We’re used to the pitch and it’s a big pitch and a nice pitch; (groundsman) Dave (Blacknall) always looks after it really well.

“We feel as though we’ve got a good squad to contend with anything.

“It’s two quick games in succession and we’re all geared up for it.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for them – they’re in good spirits and we’re looking forward to it.”

Colchester’s play-off semi-final first leg against Exeter tomorrow night will be their first competitive game since they won 3-0 at Carlisle United, on March 7.

The U’s have been back training for just over a fortnight following the easing of government restrictions and McGreal now wants his place to grasp their opportunity.

“We were in a great position before the pandemic actually arrived and we’ve worked ever so hard this season,” said the U’s boss.

“We’ve had a good season to date, which I’ve gone on record as saying.

“We thought the season was over; we’re all on furlough and we didn’t know what was happening.

“But now we’ve been given an opportunity and it’s up to us to try and take that opportunity.

“Yes you’re putting things in place for the ifs, buts and maybes but now we’ve arrived here, it’s a semi-final and it’s our first one for 20-odd years for the football club.

“We always felt that there would be a chance of us coming back, because we always put programmes in with the players.

“Once we went on the furlough, the boys were on programmes and they were always up to speed with them.

“We always knew that there was a possibility and we’re delighted that we have an opportunity to play in the play-offs.”