Colchester interim head coach Hayden Mullins was delighted to secure the club’s League Two status following a narrow 1-0 win over nine-man Salford.
Josh Bohui netted the U’s vital winner in the 68th minute after racing onto Ben Stevenson’s pass and firing home, sealing his side’s Football League spot and denting the Ammies’ play-off hopes.
Mullins said: “We knew that a draw would be enough today but we didn’t want to settle for that – we wanted to win.
“We always believed that we’d be OK but this division and football is not always straight forward.
“We had to get the group into a place where we got them believing in themselves, in the way we want to play.
“It’s always tough playing under pressure – you approach games every week and you know you can’t give anything away.
“A defeat here and a draw there and it can almost be a really, really bad place to work next week.
“I know it’s easy saying that but the performances and some of the wins at home have been really good.
“We need to get after teams here and get the whole team pressing and after the opposition and when we do that, we’re a tough team to play against.”
Salford finished with only nine players on a frustrating afternoon for the visitors.
They were reduced to 10 men in the 32nd minute when Di’Shon Bernard was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Noah Chilvers, having earlier been cautioned for a foul on Stevenson.
Substitute Ash Hunter was then shown a straight red card for dissent in stoppage time.
Salford boss Gary Bowyer was also disappointed his side were not awarded a late penalty when Robbie Gotts tumbled under Ryan Clampin’s challenge in the area.
Bowyer said: “It was frustrating.
“We didn’t start the game particularly well and after that in my opinion – and of course, I see it differently to others – the game has been influenced by the referee’s performance today.
“Managers come out and say that time and time again and I understand that but it has.
“The booking (for Di’Shon Bernard) isn’t actually a foul, never mind a booking – it’s incredible.
“He could not wait to get him sent off and we should have had a penalty with Robbie Gotts, it’s a stonewall penalty.
“I’ve seen it back and between the referee and the linesman, they don’t give it.
“Colchester sat off us and even when we had 10 men, we had 50 per cent of possession and the lads have had a go.
“George Boyd went on a brilliant run and just couldn’t get the finishing touch but there wasn’t much in the game.”