Graham Kavanagh on another amazing away day
United manager Graham Kavanagh spoke to us about the amazing away day at the Greenhous Meadow Stadium.
“We keep saying that every day brings something new and this has certainly been no different,” he said. “A game like this is all about character and we’ve seen even in the recent past that when we’ve gone a goal down we have generally lost games.
“We’ve managed to change that mentality with what we did against Notts County and again today, and that’s important. It shows we have plenty to work with going forward.”
“I suppose the other big lesson I’ve learned today is that a game isn’t over until it’s over,” he added. “At 2-1 up, and with two minutes left to go, we probably thought the game was won but it’s something you should never take for granted.
“However, when you see the attitude from the players like they had in this game then it’s vital that you keep harnessing that. Yes we’re disappointed that we didn’t see it through, but that’s just the way it went today. Going forward we have to learn from it and make sure we never make the same mistake again.”
On his decision to switch things round for the second half, he said: “There is a now a confidence and a momentum building up and I think it’s important when we get the opportunity to play the game that we take it.
“There was a stage in this game where we became a little bit too predictable. That’s frustrating because we have players in this group who can handle the ball and who are good enough to break teams down. We’ve also got players who can stretch the game and who can put the other team under pressure. We need to use those assets more.
“We thought Mark Beck was reacting rather than being proactive in the first half and we needed him to be getting across his markers to try and make things happen. We actually felt we were the better team but we weren’t really threatening their goal. We changed things about a bit and it worked for us so, on the whole, we are very pleased.”
“I was disappointed when we went three at the back because I wanted us to pass the ball and accept responsibility more. We went too long too quickly and once we took Mark Beck off I thought the two strikers would get down the sides of their centre halves a bit more. That didn’t really happen but we got the two goals and sometimes you think you’re a lucky man rather than a good manager.”
“We work extremely hard through the week to make sure that we get reactions like these,” he explained. “We’re working for longer hours and at a higher intensity.
“We’re putting more demands on the group and you can see from a game like this that they’re buying into it. The reward is the points on the board so as long as we continue to get the honesty and the work rate, at this type of level, then we will be fine.”
“I thought this was a great game of football and there was plenty of action,” he agreed. “We’re obviously disappointed and it’s a strange one because, at 1-0 to them, we’d have taken a draw all day long.
“The character and belief the players have is fantastic and that’s what got them back into it. We then got in front but you do worry a bit when you see the board go up with five minutes for time added on. It’s a shame we couldn’t hold out – probably down to two individual mistakes – but we got everything we asked for in terms of honesty, work rate and a never-say-die attitude. We’ll always be happy with that.”
“We did have a couple of individual mistakes and, to be fair to the players, they will be the first to hold their hands up,” he continued. “I haven’t got a problem with that as long as they are honest mistakes and they don’t happen too often.
“First and foremost when you have the attitude we have, and the desire to improve, then you know you’ve got a real chance. I think we’ve given all we could in the four games we’ve played and that is hugely encouraging.
“We know we need to add quality, if we can, and we will continue to try to do that. I spoke to the players about the fact that Shrewsbury have conceded late goals and this game makes it six draws for them. That’s why we thought we’d got it over the line when we went ahead.
“Like I say, it wasn’t to be and the lads are actually very quiet in the dressing room. It feels like a defeat to them, but I have told them that this is hopefully the start of something good. We are going to have ups and downs but if we do it the right way – win, lose or draw – then nobody will have a problem with any of it.”
Talking more about the patterns of play, he said: “We’ve been set up as a counter attacking team from the offset four weeks ago. We had a really bad goal difference against and it was important that we started to get the foundations at the back correct.
“The group, those who are playing and those who are on the bench, are all doing everything they can to make sure that’s the case. There’s still a long way to go but we’ve definitely taken some very important steps. If we can keep this going then we will continue to improve and hopefully move up the table."