Mark Bonner delighted as Cambridge United beat Crawley Town to complete January unbeaten
Mark Bonner was effusive about Cambridge United’s unbeaten January as a 3-1 win over Crawley Town extended their lead at the top of the Sky Bet League Two table.
In one of their best performances of the season, goals from Joe Ironside, Kyle Knoyle and Wes Hoolahan earned them victory over an impressive Reds team.
It means that the U’s have recorded a haul of 14 points from a possible 18 this month, and the success puts them three points clear of second-placed Carlisle United.
“It keeps the unbeaten run going and importantly January as a month has been really good to us,” said United head coach Bonner.
“It was a big game, a big performance at times against a really good side. You only have to look at their goal to see the sort of execution they have with the ball.
“We knew we had to be good without the ball and carry our own threat.
“It was an open game at times, with some really good attacking play from both teams on a tough surface.
“We were clinical, and it's a massive three points - there's no getting away from it.”
Ironside had given United the lead in the 11th minute, only for Jake Hessenthaler to draw Crawley level minutes later through a really well-worked goal.
But Knoyle’s rocket into the top corner from the edge of the box, his first goal of the season and United’s 50th in all competitions, was crucial just before the break.
“The second goal, the timing of it was massive really - to go in 2-1 up was massive encouragement for us and probably a little bit of a downer for them,” said Bonner.
“And what a second goal it was, I didn't know he could do that.
“It was a great hit so we've got to give him the ball more often around the box and he's got to back himself more often.
“It's a great goal, great execution, and it gave us a little bit of encouragement and confidence going in at half time.”
The league table makes for complicated reading as so many teams have so many games in hand, but United are doing all they can, which is getting matches on and collecting points.
And four wins and two draws from the first month of the year is impressive.
“If we can keep our unbeaten run going and keep doing what we’re doing, we need to make sure at the end of the season we look back on January and say what a pivotal month it was for us because it has been a really big one for us,” said Bonner.
“I’m not one to praise us too much or give us too much credit, but with what the lads have got through in the last month - I think what they’ve done is brilliant.
“Long may they continue to keep grinding out these results because you get a false confidence sometimes when you win 3-0 and 5-0 and it’s not real football, and believe you are better than you are.
“But when you win games like that and win 2-1 or when you come from behind, that’s when you get real confidence and belief as a team as you know you can go through the trenches and scrap together. That’s how you grow and develop, there is a nice belief growing in us at the moment which we need to keep hold of.”
There was also praise for stadium manager Ian Darler and the staff and volunteers who made sure that the pitch was playable given all the different weather conditions this month.
“I have to also say to Mickey, Les and the volunteers that have got this game on, the last two days it would never have been playable, but they have worked wonders to get it on,” said Bonner.
“We were desperate to play so Ian has felt the weight on his shoulders from me this week because after Tuesday’s postponement [away to Salford City] we didn’t want a two-week break.
“The weather was kind to us today but if they didn’t do what they’ve done in the last few days and work as hard as they have then we were never getting it on, so thanks to them as well.”