TOMMY Smith admits Colchester United’s heavy defeat at Exeter City was ‘unacceptable’.

But the U’s centre-back has insisted they will use the memory of the humiliating 6-1 loss as motivation to rediscover their high standards.

Colchester crashed to their heaviest defeat in more than five years when they were thrashed by the rampant Grecians, at St James Park.

Michael Folivi’s second-half goal proved only a consolation on a hugely disappointing night for the U’s – and defender Smith admits they fell well below their high standards.

Smith said: “Individually and collectively, we weren’t at the races which is unacceptable.

“We can’t afford that to happen in too many games this season and we’ll be doing all we can to stop it from happening again.

“Exeter played really well and you could see that in the chances they created.

“But us as individuals and collectively weren’t up to the standards we’ve set ourselves for the season, so far.

“I think everyone can look at themselves in the mirror and say they had an off day and when everyone has an off day, it unfortunately culminates in results like we had.”

Colchester will return to training again today, to reflect on the defeat but also begin preparing for their next game – a home clash with Crawley Town, next Tuesday night.

Smith has stressed it is important that they move on quickly from the result – and also learn the lessons of the Exeter defeat.

The New Zealand international added: “It hurts and it’s disappointing and we didn’t go down there looking to lose in that way.

“But it’s football; strange things happen and what’s important is how you bounce back from a setback.

“Similarly when we lost to Marine we bounce back with a really good run and now it’s down to us to do that again.

“Hopefully it’s just a small blip – albeit a hurtful blip – that we can use as motivation going forward to ensure that results like that don’t happen again and we get back to the standards that we have set ourselves.”