Mark Bonner praises Cambridge United for finding their groove to beat Harrogate Town in Sky Bet League Two
Mark Bonner praised the collective effort of Cambridge United in the 2-1 comeback win over Harrogate Town in Sky Bet League Two.
They had made a lot of the running in the first half without creating any clear-cut opportunities, and trailed at the break to Jack Muldoon’s 10th-minute strike.
But they added the final part to their game in the second half and goals from Joe Ironside and Wes Hoolahan, either side of a red card for Harrogate’s Lloyd Kerry, sealed their win.
“I thought after the goal we were very dominant with the ball,” said U’s head coach Bonner.
“In the first half, there wasn’t enough of an end product to our attacking play or we shot or crossed too early rather than have the extra pass when we were there.
“All we needed to do in the second half was be confident, have a bit more conviction about us, make good choices with the ball and we just kept turning the screw and going up levels in the second half.
“We were very dominant - it was probably one of our better performances with the ball where we were able to find nice angles and combination passes to work our way up the pitch.
“I thought the two goals were very good in the second half and that we deservedly won the game.
“Adam (May) was calm and confident, Paul (Digby) had moments of the same, so I’m really pleased with how we used the ball, the number of entries in the final third that we made and the number of set plays that we got - and we came close off a few of those.Barry (Corr, the U’s coach) was working hard with the boys on those, and they nearly came off for us.
“It was a really good collective effort from everybody after a blank week, and an opportunity with nobody else playing in the top half of the table to consolidate in and around the positions we’re in, so it’s an important three points.”
The U’s played a diamond system, which meant that Hoolahan was tucked in behind the two strikers.
And he played a pivotal part in the triumph, setting up Ironside’s equaliser and then scoring the winner soon after.
“We found him in good pockets between the lines,” said Bonner.
“Adam was good, Paul was good, Luke Hanant carries the ball and gets you up the pitch.
“The two centre forwards occupied people - Knibbsy was good and had some good moments where he ran in behind, but it’s not quite falling for him at the moment because he had a couple of decent chances. He is really talented and done well the last couple of weeks.
“As they got deeper and deeper in the game and we were getting more dominant it just screamed less space for Harvey (Knibbs) in behind so more opportunity for us to cross and get bodies in and around the box.
“Trying to get Joe (Ironside) to occupy a centre-half to get more space, and it worked an absolute dream for the first goal with his finish.
“I’m delighted with all of the strikers for the input they’re having in the game.
“Wes is obviously a massive creator for us, but behind that we played with a real purpose with the ball.”
It was a fourth home win in a row for the U’s, and their first back-to-back victories in the league since mid-November, and it moved them up into the automatic promotion places.
“It was really pleasing because we haven’t done that for a while,” said Bonner.
“We knew it was an opportunity to try to do that after last week and you’ve got to try to put these games together - one on top of the other - and any time you can get consecutive wins in this league, gives you a real chance of consolidating in the area of the league we want to compete in.
“I asked the boys to dance with me today and they danced well.”