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Mark Bonner delighted as Cambridge United open season with win over MK Dons

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Paul Digby in action for Cambridge United against MK Dons. Picture: Keith Heppell
Paul Digby in action for Cambridge United against MK Dons. Picture: Keith Heppell

Mark Bonner savoured an ideal start to the new campaign as Cambridge United beat MK Dons 1-0 in Sky Bet League One at the Abbey Stadium.

Harvey Knibbs got the only goal of the game with a terrific individual effort in the 17th minute in what was a promising first-half display.

They did not quite hit the same heights after the break as MK Dons carried the game to the U’s, although without testing goalkeeper Dimi Mitov.

“I think any win you can get on day one is obviously important, and any win against MK, because they’re such a good side, is a good one,” said United head coach Bonner.

“It was far from perfect, performance wise we’ll get better obviously, but we’ll take the result all day long.

“It’s an important three points, and we can get some confidence from it, which is good. We’re off the mark, which is important for everybody.

“I thought we were good in the first half actually, certainly until the last 10 minutes or so, when we got a little bit deeper just protecting the lead until half-time, which can happen.

“They didn’t create huge amounts in that, and we were architects of our own downfall, turning the ball over a bit too easy and surrendering counter-attacks or set-plays because of it.

“I thought we played some good football, after the first 30 seconds when they hit the crossbar. We were really nervy at the start, but once we got going, I thought we did alright, and we brought some nice control to the game, and had a good threat.”

After the promise in attack in the first half - although admittedly without creating many clear-cut chances - it was much more about defensive resilience in the second period.

It must be said though, that it came down to winning balls into the box - and the second ball - and blocking efforts from distance.

“It felt like we never had any control or territory in the second half at all, and we probably played the game exactly how we didn’t want to play it in the second half,” said Bonner.

“It can happen when you play a team that makes the pitch so big, put so many attacking players in the front line of the pitch, and makes it really hard for you to press.

“We just became a little bit too risk averse, a little bit too many turnovers with the ball, and weren’t ever really able to get too much of a threat in our build-up play, or control any game or get any territory.

“We made a couple of changes after 70 minutes to try to get Sam (Smith) and Shilow (Tracey) to have a bit more pace in the team to see if we could counter-attack because we were so deep in the game. But we weren’t able to do that too much.

“In the end, we’ve ended up with a brilliant result, and despite hardly having the ball in the second half, the goal wasn’t under huge threat.

“We’re relieved a little bit with that, we know we’ll have to get better, but it’s a really good win.”

Next up is a game against Millwall in the first round of the Carabao Cup at the Abbey Stadium on Tuesday night (August 2).

And Bonner added: “

“Hopefully that will settle us down and as we get through a bit of a rhythm of games now, and more boys play 90 minutes more - and we will get lots of boys 90 minutes on Tuesday night that haven’t had it - that will set us up nicely for Oxford and the next couple of league games.”

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Match-winner Harvey Knibbs hails perfect day as Cambridge United start League One season by beating MK Dons

Harvey Knibbs fires Cambridge United to victory over MK Dons in League One

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