Graham Kavanagh on the Boreham draw
United manager Graham Kavanagh gave us his reaction to the FA Cup first round away draw at Boreham Wood on Saturday afternoon.
“It has ended up being a really difficult afternoon for us,” he said. “I don’t think we got anywhere near the form we showed on Tuesday night against Wolves and that is really disappointing.
“Coming into the game today we created all of the scenarios that could possibly happen, but we just didn’t seem to have the urgency which you need when you play in something like this. It was always going to be one they would treat it like it was their cup final and they were always going to work hard.
"The FA Cup is a real leveller, especially when you're playing away from home, and it didn't look like there were three tiers between the teams today. It will be a long journey home for the lads now because they have a lot to contemplate. There's a lot we didn't do right, as a group, and we'll have to look at that and make sure we perform better going forward."
“I thought we could have moved the ball quicker and we didn’t really pick enough of the second balls up for my liking," he added. "We seemed to need two or three touches and we weren’t getting the balls into the wide areas or into the box. That has been a positive aspect of our play in recent weeks but we let ourselves down on that side of it today.”
“The pleasing thing is that we are still in the hat,” he told us. “You have to give Boreham Wood credit because they rose to the challenge. It was one where we seemed to lack a bit of confidence in ourselves and in each other and it was almost as if there was a little bit of fear in the group.
“It’s one where we could have come away with a defeat and it’s almost a feeling of let’s just get to the end of the match, particularly when Mark got injured. That way we can get them back to our place and hopefully we will play the way we know we can.”
“If they can come up and replicate this performance then good luck to them,” he continued. “I would expect us to be much sharper and to create more chances and hopefully we’ll be able to enjoy our side of the game more.
“There was a spell of about 15 minutes before half time where I thought we had settled into it. There were a few ricochets around the box and the keeper pulled off one or two good saves. However, there just wasn’t enough of that. We made life too easy for their defence by lobbing balls into the box rather than by delivering them at pace.
“It’s one of those games which becomes a learning experience for all of us because it hasn’t really gone our way. I showed the lads cuttings from previous bad experiences this club has had before the game and I told them that there was no way they wanted to be part of anything like that. We tried not to put too much pressure on them but we had to emphasise the importance of the game. In the end we have made it difficult for ourselves and now we have to put that right.”
“If I’m being honest, I never thought we were in any danger of losing,” he insisted. “Like I say, when Mark [Gillespie] got injured that was when it became a case of making sure we just got through it. We didn’t want him to have to dive off that leg because he wasn’t comfortable at all. As it happens, they never got into any areas that would hurt us so we were able to protect him.
“He actually first had that problem two weeks ago. He trained on the Wednesday and he felt tightness in the back of his knee. Fortunately it settled down and it hasn’t been a problem since then. He was shepherding a ball out this afternoon and he said he felt a pop in the same place at the back of his knee. Dolly has looked at it and he’s hopeful that it’s a muscle injury. We’ll have to get it scanned on Monday so that we can get to the bottom of exactly what it is because he’s not a player we want to lose for the long term.”
“The only real positive we can look at right now is that we are still in the competition,” he said. “We go into the draw and we will see what Boreham Wood have to offer as to who will go through to the next round. What we do know without doubt now, having played them, is that they have quality and they have players who are a threat.
“Our quality wasn’t good enough and that will definitely have to improve if we want it to be us who goes through.”