Graham Kavanagh with reaction to the Southend United draw
United manager Graham Kavanagh gave us his reaction to the 1-1 draw with Southend United on Saturday.
“I thought we were the better team in the first half,” he said. “We got the goal at the right time and all we needed to do was hold on, but we invited the pressure and we didn’t close the ball down from midfield. That allowed their player to get his shot away and it killed us a little bit.
“We started well in the second half and Jack [Marriott] had his chance when he went one on one. The keeper made a good save and I think a little bit of fear crept into our players. I’m not sure why that is but we certainly didn’t replicate the energy and quality we saw on Tuesday night.”
“I felt the lads gave us their maximum against a very good side which is well established in this league,” he continued. “They are very well organised and they pass the ball particularly well. We knew they were going to cause us problems, so I was hoping for and wanted more from our wing backs.
“We needed to be a bit more courageous to take the game to the opposition and play more in their half. We weren’t able to do it but I’m pleased with the point in the end.”
“I thought our goal was a real positive,” he agreed. “Antony Sweeney is a goal scoring midfielder and I thought he took a lot of responsibility today to get forward. He was the one who was up there with the strikers and it was a very good finish. The quality of the ball into the box invited people to attack it and that’s exactly the type of thing we want to see.
“I’ve spoken to Patrick [Brough] and I’ve told him that he is one who has all the talent and ability to be what he wants. He has the legs, the talent and the physique and he needs to have the confidence in himself to know he can beat the full back. He has all of the tools he needs so it’s up to him to push on now.”
“I sense a bit of confidence coming back into the group but we just need to get that first win under our belt,” he told us. “I understand the frustration from the fans because they just want to see us win games. We’re taking a little bit of time to get going and we possibly should be sitting here now with six points. The fact is we only have two points, but I’m still very pleased that we haven’t lost this game.”
“What we need to show now is show more courage,” he said. “We sometimes look desperate to get the ball forward rather than play the game in the way we know we can.
“Everybody played with confidence and without fear in pre-season but losing the first game at home has affected people. The game at Cheltenham on Tuesday night was exactly how we wanted to shape up and we did that again in the first half here, and for small phases of the second half. We’ll go again until we see it more consistently.”
“We needed to get the ball and use it much faster than we did once they got on top,” he commented. “We looked very laboured and that could have something to do with how much we put into Tuesday night. I’ve just told them that they have to turn it round quickly, when we do play Saturday and Tuesday, because it’s expected that they will be able to produce it for every game.
“We looked full of energy until we took the lead but we then let them get into our back four from the kick off. We didn’t close down and that allowed the shot to come before Mark [Gillespie] even had a chance to set himself. That was disappointing but the positive is that it’s two games undefeated. However, I’m very much aware that we need to start turning the results into wins. I’m sure we’re more than capable of doing that.”
On the injury situation, he said: “The injuries have come at a bad time but there’s no point in us moaning about it. We’ve got players to do the job but I’ve said all along that if the right player comes up then we would look at bringing him in. I’ll be looking all the time and, if we can do something, we’ll make it happen. We always want to improve the group, with comings or goings, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
“I’m sure a win will bring the confidence back for us,” he told us. “We’ve been a team which hasn’t won for a period of time, probably the last 18 months or so, and it’s difficult to turn that round. That’s why I changed the group in the summer.
“It’s taken longer to gel than I would have hoped but we’ve got to look at ourselves and we’ve got to be better and braver. That kind of thing is already in the squad but we need to have the belief in ourselves to make things happen. People are fearful of making mistakes and that means they don’t play their natural game.
“However, I can’t fault the fact they are giving their absolute maximum and they believe in what we are asking them to do. The harder we work the better things will get and I’m sure that will bring us the wins.
“If we can go five or six games unbeaten and add a couple of wins on top of what we’ve already got then we are going to be in a much better situation. We’ll start to see players playing with the confidence and freedom we’re asking for, but it’s difficult until they really do start believing in themselves. It is in there with them so we now just need to bring it out.”
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