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Cambridge United head coach Neil Harris frustrated by missing killer moment against 10-man Burton Albion





Neil Harris was pleased with the performance but frustrated by a lack of end product in Cambridge United’s goalless home draw with a Burton Albion side that played more than half of the second period with 10 men.

The U’s head coach had called for a ‘clean sheet mentality’ from his side off the back off the 0-0 draw away at Exeter City last weekend and duly got another one, though a failure to break down a side who had Steve Seddon dismissed for a second booking in the 64th minute meant this one was bittersweet.

A dominant U’s display at the Cledara Abbey Stadium, having had 71 per cent of the possession and 20 shots to Burton’s six, though only with four on target, ultimately went unrewarded.

Sullay Kaikai sees his second-half shot blocked for Cambridge United in their goalless draw at home to Burton Albion Picture: Simon Lankester
Sullay Kaikai sees his second-half shot blocked for Cambridge United in their goalless draw at home to Burton Albion Picture: Simon Lankester

Lyle Taylor was thwarted by a first-half save and Jack Lankester steered just wide 15 minutes from time from the edge of the box among their better chances.

There was lots Harris liked about the display but he admitted his frustration at not being able to break through the Brewers as they took a point which moved them down two places to 16th in the Sky Bet League One table.

Speaking in his post-match club video, he said: "We controlled the game, we knew they'd bring a real physical presence, Burton are really strong on counter-attacks and set plays, and they didn't really cause us a problem. I think Jack's touched the ball four or five times with his hands so it's a really strong defensive performance by us.

Elias Kachunga puts a header wide for Cambridge United in their goalless draw at home to Burton Albion Picture: Simon Lankester
Elias Kachunga puts a header wide for Cambridge United in their goalless draw at home to Burton Albion Picture: Simon Lankester

"And at the top end of the pitch, for large parts, we were good in the build-up play; we moved the ball really well, identified space and caused them lots of problems to get to the final third.

"But then did we have that moment of quality? I think that's probably my frustration, that key moment we were just missing.

"The chances we created we didn't quite have enough to beat the keeper or the moment beforehand where we're asking for a little bit of quality around the box, be inventive with the ball and take care of the ball at times. I thought we made a couple of rash decisions around the box.

"So I was frustrated with the final part but on the whole pleased with the all-round performance.”

Lyle Taylor fires in an effort on a frustrating day in front of goal for Cambridge United in the goalless home draw with Burton Albion Picture: Simon Lankester
Lyle Taylor fires in an effort on a frustrating day in front of goal for Cambridge United in the goalless home draw with Burton Albion Picture: Simon Lankester

Only three teams, Cheltenham Town (20 from 27 games), next weekend’s hosts Shrewsbury (20 from 29) and Exeter City (21 from 29) have scored less than the U’s 23 goals from their 27 games this season.

And Harris, says their lack of output is not something he expects to completely fix in this transfer window.

With Burton having made the game difficult for the U’s from the outset, Harris, who was booked for his protests over the persistent fouling, said: "I think Burton will be pleased with a point, they came to get a point obviously with the way they set up. They ask a lot of questions of you to break them down.

"I thought the referee didn't help the flow of the game, it was stop-start too much. I thought he played into their hands, I was obviously disappointed with how many fouls he gave and yellow cards etcetera.

"But look, we can't control that. What I can control is the level of performance by my players, and in large parts it was high.

"The frustration for people leaving us here was it was a really dominant, controlled game by Cambridge United but without that killer moment. “And I think that's something we've got to address over a period of time, it's not going to be with just the help of the next few days over the transfer window but that's going to take time over various transfer windows."

On his search for reinforcements ahead of Thursday’s transfer deadline, he said: "There's lots of questions, it's January, I'm asked everywhere I go.

"At half-past six at the petrol garage I said I was the only person awake in Cambridge and I got asked.

"Look, we're nearly there, we just missed out on a couple as we touched on yesterday.

"Look, we need to get a couple of deals done this week and we know that and we're doing everything we can.

"I've promised the players we'll get a couple in, so we need to provide.

"Look, I love the lads, they're brilliant and they give everything for the football club and the supporters, I thought the supporters were excellent today and got behind the boys. I thought they got frustrated with the referee as well.

"But the lads give everything but sometimes they just need a little bit of support so we need to get a couple of deals over the line this week and we'll look a lot healthier squad going into next Saturday."



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