It proved to be a bittersweet afternoon for Colchester manager John McGreal whose side missed out on a play-off spot despite thrashing Sky Bet League Two champions Lincoln at Sincil Bank.
The U’s ran riot in the first half with a brace from Sammie Szmodics and a further strike from Brennan Dickenson securing a 3-0 win.
But an 87th-minute equaliser from Jamille Matt in a 1-1 draw at Morecambe allowed Newport County to leapfrog Colchester into seventh place, and the final play-off position.
The win secured a league double over the Imps and left McGreal with a lot to ponder over the summer.
“The result elsewhere hurts but you have to move on,” said McGreal.
“It’s gutting what happened in the last few minutes, and that’s twice it has happened to me in the last three years on the last day.
“We’ve now got contracts to sort out and targets to bring in. We’ll move forward and keep this club evolving.
“In terms of today, I thought we were outstanding. We’ve come away to a team that has won the league comfortably – and seen them booed off by their own fans at half time.
“It was a little bit surreal – we blew them away. It was three but it could have been any number. We said all week we wanted to come to the champions and win and that’s what we did.”
Lincoln boss Danny Cowley was naturally left frustrated with his side’s display and finish to the season.
“We’re disappointed with ourselves and let everyone down in that first half,” he said.
“It felt like after winning the league we had perhaps ran our race.
“Credit to Colchester, they’ve looked great in their two games against us this season and certainly don’t look like a side that finished eighth.”