Colchester boss John McGreal described his side as “cool, calm and collected” after they advanced into the quarter-finals of the Carabao Cup for the second time in the club’s history and first since 1974.
The U’s defeated their Sky Bet League Two rivals Crawley 3-1 at the Broadfield Stadium to make it a memorable night for the 1,700 travelling fans in the sell-out crowd of 5,612.
Veteran midfielder Dannie Bulman gave the hosts the lead with an unstoppable shot in the 20th minute, but Luke Norris responded within 78 seconds with a bullet header.
A free-kick from Cohen Bramall came off the crossbar only to go into the net off goalkeeper Michael Luyambula as the away side went in front seven minutes after the interval, and substitute Luke Gambin’s fine finish sealed the win 10 minutes from time.
McGreal felt his men were worthy winners and said: “The way it went we thoroughly deserved it. We were cool, calm and collected and that is a good habit to have.
“Our fans are going to be delighted to be in the quarter-finals of a major cup competition for the first time since 1974.
“From my point of view, I would like a home draw but I expect the chairman wants a big club away from home.
“The main thing is that we have done our job, and we will be paying close attention when the draw is made.”
Colchester lost a 1-0 lead to suffer a 2-1 defeat to Crawley in their previous visit just over two weeks ago and McGreal was delighted to make up for that disappointment.
He added: “We knew it is a tough place and that we let ourselves down two weeks ago. No way were we doing that again.”
Crawley went into the tie smarting from a 4-0 home league defeat to Swindon and head coach Gabriele Cioffi admitted it was playing on their minds.
The Italian said: “We arrived here with a bit of fear. On Saturday when we had a shambles, we were thinking about today’s game.
“We tried to react but in the end they deserved to go through.
“We wanted to give the city another moment of glory and to keep going with our dream. Reaching the fourth round has never happened to this club before so we have to be proud.”
Cioffi was critical of his men for conceding so soon after taking the lead and added: “We were naive because you can’t concede just after you score and then the second goal killed us.
“Did we play well? No. We had a good half hour and then we were too deep and weren’t able to work on what we prepared.
“In October we have conceded a lot of goals, but we have a chance to put things right at Cambridge on Saturday and we need to reach 50 points as fast as we can.”