Colchester United comment with U's sports writer Jon Waldron

TO say that Harry Pell enjoyed his vital last-gasp goal against Salford City would be the understatement of the century.

And who could possibly begrudge the popular Colchester United midfielder his joyous reaction, given all what he has had to endure over the last few months?

It’s no secret that the likeable Pell is a larger than life character in the U’s changing room.

More often than not, it is his voice that can be heard both on and off the pitch, his infectious laugh frequently bellowing around the club’s Florence Park training ground.

But the laughter fell silent in the opening quarter of the campaign, with Pell sidelined with a troublesome Achilles injury.

It kept a frustrated Pell out of action for nearly three months and kicking his heels on the sidelines, while his team-mates were out on the pitch.

And sadly, that left him in a lonely place.

“There were some dark days in there, if I’m being totally honest,” said Pell, just minutes after nodding in Colchester’s dramatic winner against Salford in the third minute of stoppage-time.

“It’s probably affected my family and everyone around me and myself as a person as well.”

Pell is desperate to help Colchester win promotion back to League One.

It is why he left Cheltenham Town to sign for the U’s in the summer of 2018.

His commitment to the cause and drive to help Colchester get back to the third tier was there for all to see, last season – which is why he was left so disappointed and frustrated after missing the final five weeks of the campaign with a hamstring injury.

Pell thought that his injury problems were behind him when he went into this season, especially as he started the U’s opening-day game against Port Vale.

But sadly it proved a false dawn, as he was ruled out for what proved to be nearly three months with an Achilles problem.

That’s why Pell’s late goal against Salford meant so much to him, though completing 90 minutes for the first time for the first team since February 2 will have probably meant equally as much.

As U’s boss John McGreal said after the Salford game, aside from his general all-round quality and experience Pell gives Colchester personality – something that could prove key as they prepare to enter the second half of the League Two season with a promotion push the main objective.