Mark Bonner salutes a brilliant night for Cambridge United with victory against Millwall in Carabao Cup
Mark Bonner had multiple reasons to be happy as Cambridge United beat 10-man Championship side Millwall in the Carabao Cup, first round.
The U's head coach was delighted to see them progress to the next round of the competition, but just as important was the majority of the squad completing almost 90 minutes in the first two games of the season and their overall performance against the higher league side.
Liam O'Neil's strike proved the difference against the Lions, who had George Honeyman sent off for two yellow cards.
“I think it’s a brilliant night for us, and without doubt the most physical game we’ve had in terms of many of the games we’ve played so far in pre-season have been quite football games, possession-based," said Bonner.
“This was a physical, direct game for both sides and a lot more physical contact, a lot more aerial duels.
“It was a real challenge for us against a team that made five changes from the weekend, and are very strong.
“We’re delighted with the outcome, and I’m also really proud of the lads’ performance because of how hard it has been for them and how short of match minutes they are at the minute.
“They (Millwall) make you defend and don’t allow to you get up the pitch too often. For us, often an out ball is Joe Ironside to go straight into him, but he was getting choke-slammed everywhere in the first half and just couldn’t get any change out of them.
“There are such a strong, direct, physical team that we found the wrong release pass. Our release pass needed to be wide to the faster players to get them higher up the pitch and when we did that Shilow (Tracey) caused all sorts of problems - I thought he was outstanding in moments of the game.”
It is another cup victory against a higher division team, added together with some of the wins over the leading lights in League One last season, but not that it means too much to Bonner.
“It doesn’t really, I hope it does for the players,” he said. “I don’t take those wins for granted because wins for us are hard to come by, and we have to work so hard for them.
“Of course, it’s good if we do that; at the same time, the priority competition for us is the league and we’ve got to get the wins against the teams in our own league.
“But of course any time you get any result especially against teams from a higher division it’s great for you.
“We’re thrilled with the result but I don’t look into it too much other than just driving us to try to get better.”