Clinical Lincoln City provided an insight to the next level, says Cambridge United head coach Mark Bonner
Mark Bonner believes Cambridge United's 5-1 thumping at the hands of Lincoln City provides further insight into the demands of what it takes to compete in Sky Bet League One.
It was the worst possible start for the U's as they fell behind to Hakeeb Adelakun's opener inside just 24 seconds.
There was then a virtuoso performance from the Imps' Anthony Scully, a former Comberton Village College student, who added to his assist for the first goal with two goals and two more assists.
“It’s definitely a goal we can defend better in probably three or four phases in the 30 seconds,” said Bonner about Lincoln going ahead so early.
“It’s a horrible start, but you say it’s the worst time to concede, there’s a heck of a long way to go after that.
“You’ve got to try to get a bit more control in those periods, and take care in a few more of our defending phases in there, because it ran away from us in the end.”
Lincoln had gone 3-0 up by the 24th minute - with Scully and Conor McGrandles on target adding to Adelakun's strike - and Lewis Fiorini and Scully completed their tally.
“No doubt, they’re the best team that we’ve played against so far,” said Bonner.
“They absolutely punished us every time they got a chance.
“I thought their finishing was outstanding, and I thought they caused us more problems and asked more questions of us than anyone we’ve played against.
“It’s an afternoon where you just think ‘right OK, we don’t like that', but we’re going to have to learn from it quickly, because it’s a real insight into what the next level is.
“People get chances against you and they put it in the top corner three or four times, it’s a difficult one to take.”
Trailing 3-0 at half time, United were on the front foot from the beginning of the second period, with Joe Ironside getting his fourth of the campaign immediately after Lincoln had gone four goals clear.
And there were certainly promising periods of play, it is just that their opponents were ruthless.
“We started the second half and for 10 minutes we were brilliant, and that period ended by them breaking away and putting it in the top corner,” said Bonner.
“We whistled one just past the post at 4-1, and that was followed up instantly by them putting one in the top corner. We got punished by a very good team.
“There is a real share of possession in the game, we’ve had 10 corners to their one, we’ve had a lot of attempts but nowhere near as many on target as them, so there is an element of the clinical nature and the quality of the chances being created there.
“The score line will always mask over that, and you can’t try to take too many fluffy positives from a home defeat where you lose 5-1 but at the same time, there are moments in there where we looked a threat and we looked like we might be able to turn the game.
“The lessons in that moment, you have to take those chances and situations to make the most of those periods because otherwise a team can punish you very quickly.”