Mark Bonner seeks controlled Cambridge United display away at Portsmouth in League One
Mark Bonner wants to see Cambridge United deliver a controlled performance when they travel to Portsmouth in Sky Bet League One on Saturday (September 18).
Pompey are considered to be one of the big guns in the division, and with that comes the atmosphere that the fans are able to create at Fratton Park.
The U’s make the trip to the south coast on the back of a 5-1 defeat to Lincoln City last Saturday, and face an opponent who have won their two home games so far, but have lost two and drawn one of their last three league games.
“I think you know what you get when Danny and Nicky (Cowley, Portsmouth head coach and assistant) take a team, you know the tough nature of those sides,” said United head coach Bonner.
“They will be defensively very well organised, they are excellent in transition and very well coached, a well-structured team.
“They have got some really good quality with possession of the ball, and goal threats throughout the team, whether that’s in a wide area, coming from midfield or striking areas.
“Whilst they have not seen the return in goals yet that they would like to, they have certainly got plenty of threats in the game. There have been games they have played in that they would have liked to come out with more than they did because they probably deserved it too.
“We know it’s a tough challenge for us, we know it will test, firstly our defensive organisation but secondly we will have to work really well to create chances in this game against a team that makes themselves really hard to beat and create chances against.
“It’s a tough game but one I think we can really look forward to, going to Fratton Park and you get the atmosphere. We want to keep learning from those experiences as we go as well.”
It will be Portsmouth’s first home game since August 17, with their last four matches in all competitions on the road.
“There are some clubs that have such reputations for the atmosphere and the fanbase that they can really generate an atmosphere that drives a team on,” said Bonner.
“It can also create a pressure that can turn the other way if it isn’t going well. Our job is to try to do that and to try to frustrate them and make it difficult.
“At the same time we have to cope with the atmosphere that there is and make sure we stand up to that, play with a bit of courage and try to make the game as controlled as we can, and commit to the game with everything it is going to need from us physically.”
It is therefore control in many different facets of their game that Bonner will be demanding from his side, having had a draw and a defeat in their two away games in the league so far this campaign.
“I think control can mean many things,” said Bonner.
“I think there is an element of emotional control when you’re in an atmosphere like this one, I think there is an element of controlling them when they’ve got possession, and there is an element of being in control of the ball ourselves - can we take control of the game for periods and spells to make the most of that?
“Control can come across in many different forms. It’s certainly something we’ve spoken about this week and need to try to bring to the game.
“But it can look very different, we have to get the balance right.
“Of course we want some control of the game because then we can dictate the play a little bit but we have to stay in control when they’ve got the momentum as well and that is a tough learning curve for us at the moment.”