Colchester United boss John McGreal on semi-final first leg win over Exeter City

COLCHESTER United head coach John McGreal is expecting another tough game in their second leg against Exeter City after gaining a narrow advantage in their League Two play-off semi-final.

Cohen Bramall's clever free-kick with nine minutes remaining means that the U's will travel to St James Park with a slender lead, on Monday.

It was a closely-contested affair at the JobServe Community Stadium, with chances at a premium - and boss McGreal is expecting another difficult game in three days time.

McGreal said: "All it's done is give us an advantage - it hasn't won anything at the minute.

"There's nothing won or half one - it's just an advantage.

"We've just come out on top and we're envisaging another tight game come Monday.

"It's up to us now to improve on our performance.

"It was edgy and you could see that both sets of boys have been off, that 10 or 12 weeks.

"But we're glad of the 1-0 and you take it.

"Sometimes you look back at the analysis and a set-piece wins game at times.

"It was a tight game; chances were few and far between and it was two good teams going at it.

"They were two tight games in the season, but again Cohen's shown the bit of quality that he's got as he has done throughout the season.

"He's scored a couple of free-kicks (this season) and luckily enough, one has gone in for us tonight."

Colchester's play-off semi-final first leg against Exeter was the first time they ever played a competitive match behind closed doors.

U's fans had to follow the game at home due to the restrictions in place because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was a surreal experience at times but boss McGreal felt his players dealt with it well.

"You could hear both sets of players talking," he said.

"There's a lot more verbal going on than you could hear if there was a crowd here.

"But we've got a little bit of experience in there amongst the youth and I thought it blended well this evening."

McGreal confirmed afterwards that winger Callum Harriott missed the game because of a 'tight quad'.

"It was a late decision but we didn't want to risk it," added McGreal.