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Cambridge United head coach Garry Monk full of praise for players after Sky Bet League One win over Wigan Athletic

Garry Monk hailed the ‘commitment, character and desire’ that his Cambridge United players showed during today’s 3-1 home win over Wigan Athletic.

It was a tough start to Monk’s tenure at the Cledara Abbey Stadium, with his first three games in charge yielding a return of just one point and 11 goals conceded – 10 of which were shipped in heavy defeats to Lincoln City and Reading.

However, the subsequent international break afforded Monk some time with his squad on the training pitch and that has bore fruit over the Easter period with United racking up back-to-back victories from clashes against Barnsley and the Latics.

Cambridge United head coach Garry Monk. Picture: Simon Lankester
Cambridge United head coach Garry Monk. Picture: Simon Lankester

Gassan Ahadme’s brace either side of the break put the hosts in command of the scoreboard this afternoon against Wigan and while Martial Godo halved the deficit midway through the second half, Danny Andrew put the outcome beyond doubt with a free kick seven minutes from time to move Monk’s men six points clear of the relegation zone.

“Whatever system you choose and tactics, yes it plays a part, but the main thing is commitment within that. And the character and desire that goes with it,” said Monk.

“That’s probably what was missing in those two games – or not to the levels we expect.

“Nobody can question in these two games the level of character and desire – that’s what you need.

“Our goals came in good moments today. It looked comfortable at 2-0 and then they score. But then Danny, what a free kick! Will (Mannion) saves a penalty and it’s those crucial moments, when you put that determination in, those things turn your way a bit more. Whereas before you feel like it’s all against you, a bit like we did at Lincoln and Reading.

“I’m delighted for the players because they get questioned after those two games. Have they got the character? Are they fighting for the shirt? They’ve answered that in the last two games and I’m sure the fans appreciate that. But they need to continue it. Six points is good but we need more.”

Monk had particular praise for Ahadme, who was making his first start for United in 2024 after a lengthy injury lay-off.

The Ipswich Town loanee, who also scored off the bench against Barnsley 72 hours earlier, took his tally for the campaign to 12 – making him United’s outright leading marskman in the process.

Monk added: “He was injured when I came in and you’ve got to be careful – you have to build them up.

“But he came on at Barnsley and he was a machine, an animal. Today it was exactly what we need. He sets the tone at the front the last two games. He’s a handful.

“When I look at strikers, I always look at them from a centre-back’s point of view – would I like to play against that or what would I do playing against that?

“He’s one of those awkward strikers. You feel like you could probably out-strength him, but he’s deceptively strong. He’s willing, he’s game and he’s got quality. I’m delighted for him.”

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