Mark Bonner laments Cambridge United’s poor performance in Stevenage defeat in Sky Bet League Two
Mark Bonner pulled no punches in assessing Cambridge United’s performance in the 1-0 defeat to Stevenage in Sky Bet League Two.
Charlie Carter scored the only goal of the game for the hosts in the first half, and the U’s could not get into their stride to get back on level terms.
“It was really poor, really disappointing, miles off where we need to be, second best all over the pitch and we didn’t deserve anything from the game,” said United head coach Bonner.
“We’ve got to sort ourselves out if we’re going to get to be a consistent team that wins games and hangs around the league table where we are at the moment.”
United were hoping to build on the momentum of the second-half display against Leyton Orient, when they came back from a goal down to win 2-1 on Boxing Day, but they could not do so and were stifled by Stevenage.
“We started to find a bit in the first half, but they scored in that spell,” said Bonner.
“It was a rubbish goal from our side, really poor, and early in the season we weren’t conceding goals like that.
“Obviously, we’ve got to get that situation sorted because when you come here or Bradford two weeks ago, it was similar type performances really.
“It was a little bit flat in our sense, not the same intensity we’ve needed andwhenyou give those teams that are fighting something to hold onto, it becomes hard for us.
“We had a lot of the ball, but we were too slow with it, too many backwards passess. We played Scott Cuthbert’s game and just served his head, and didn’t make them defend enough, didn’t create enough chances and moments in the game, and were too slow with the ball.
“We needed to generate more in that and make sure we don’t hide in those moments, and we take the ball on but on the same side, we have to make sure when they get the ball forward we win the headers, we’re on the second balls, we win more tackles.
“They are the basic fundamentals to get you in a game, and we haven’t found them so it’s disappointing for all of us in that sense.”
Wes Hoolahan was missing for the U’s, and there was a distinct lack of creativity in the team.
They only had two chances on target all match until the last minute of stoppage time, when Harry Darling had an effort brilliantly blocked at point-blank range by Terence Vancooten.
“The first half we had a few crosses, but not the most quality,” said Bonner. “In the second half, we didn’t really create anything.
“We had a few set-plays and a few little moments. We had chances to create chances but made poor decisions, or were too slow or checked out and went backwards rather than sustain the attack and keep the ball in that half of the pitch.
“The only real chance we had is Harry’s one at the end that gets blocked. But we are clutching if we are hanging on that to get something out of the game.”
United are struggling to put together back-to-back results at present.
They had three draws in a row at the end of November, and their last back-to-back wins were in mid-October.
But it has felt they are on the brink of turning that corner on numerous occasions in the last couple of months.
“It’s just reflective of where we are,” said Bonner. “We’re a team that is in the middle batch of teams in this league and if we want to make the jump to be a top six or seven team we need to put games together consistently, as we did in the first part of the season.
“We know we’ve got good players. We know we’re a good team on our day, but our day isn’t coming often enough at the moment.
“It’s hard every three or four days to get that mentality and work ethic on the way things are at the minute - it’s tough to try to churn that out.
“But that’s the jump we’ve got to make if we want to hang about and challenge to be in those play-off positions.
“It’s what the teams that have done it year on year have done. We have to see the progress we have made so far because we are in the top half of the table for the first time in a long time.
“But if we want to stay there and sustain this position we’ve made and be competitive, we’ve got to put games together more often than we are at the moment.”