Cambridge manager Colin Calderwood hailed the character and perseverance of his players after they recovered from an “absolutely dreadful” first half to run out 2-1 winners at Colchester.
The hosts dominated the first half of Saturday’s League Two contest and drew first blood thanks to a ninth-minute penalty from Luke Norris.
But Cambridge stepped up a gear after the break and spun the contest on its head thanks to goals from Marc Richards and substitute Harry Darling.
“We were absolutely dreadful in the first half and fortunate to only be one behind,” said Calderwood.
“Nothing went right for any of us. Even the manager and coaches got everything wrong.
“We looked so leggy and tired and it was probably my fault for playing one or two who put a big shift in on Tuesday.
“However, the substance of the victory was a bit of perseverance and a bit of luck.
“We then played very well in the second half and I was obviously delighted with the result.
“We’ve got lots of work and thinking to do but the emotion right now is one of genuine happiness.
“These are the moments that allow you to build your points tally out of nothing because if ever you could win a game despite having no dominance, no quality and no energy, this was a prime example.
“It was down to personality and character.”
Colchester boss John McGreal admitted to being “bewildered” by his side’s defeat.
“Before they scored, we were running away with the game,” he said.
“We were dominating and pulling them all over the place.
“We played some brilliant football and got into great areas but should have been more clinical.
“Despite having 16 to 18 shots, only three or four were on target. That tells its own story.
“We needed to start getting on the end of things and making their goalkeeper work.
“We got into some really good positions but slashed at things, sending shots wide, or didn’t pick people out when they were better placed.
“I’m bewildered as to how we lost and it was tough to take.”
While disappointed by his side’s inability to score more goals, he was also frustrated with the two they conceded.
“We say it every week – you have to stop crosses, defend your box and defend your back post,” he said.
“That’s what we work on in training but we didn’t do that for the first goal.
“Then their second goal came from a ball into the box that should have been dealt with.”