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MANAGER: We didn't have the same level of intensity after the break

Steven Pressley with reaction to the MK Dons home game

17 February 2019

United boss Steven Pressley gave us his reaction to the MK Dons home defeat shortly after full time on Saturday night.

Match Reports

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“I thought it was a game between two very good teams,” he said. “I spoke prior to the game about the fact I thought they have the strongest squad in the league, so it was always going to be a real challenge for us.

“I thought the way they set up showed a lot of respect to us. They played with a back five then they matched us in the middle of the park man for man. Our first half performance was a really controlled display from us and they felt they needed to make changes to make more of an impact.

“We started really well and positively and some of our football was very exciting. We lost the goal against the run of play, but we responded well to that by getting the important equaliser.

“Losing the early goal is something we have to stop doing so that we aren’t always giving ourselves a mountain to climb, and that’s something we’ll look at as a goup.

“Having said that, I think we edged the first half, we were the better side, but they might a slight change during the break with Aneke coming on. They went from the 5-3-2 system to a 4-diamond-2 and that caused us a couple of problems.

“There was a 15-minute period in that second half where we lost our way a little bit. Possibly after the substitutions we didn’t manage to get a grip with things, and I felt as well – and I said this to the players afterwards – that we turned down good opportunities to deliver balls into the box.

“We have to understand that although we’re not the biggest of sides, if you ask questions of teams then you will generally get opportunities. That’s what happened for Hallam’s goal because it was delivered in, we didn’t get the first contact, but it fell to him and he finished it well.

“I just felt we didn’t put them under enough pressure in the second half and in the end that meant we came up short.”

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Speaking more about the second half spell, which included two decisive away goals, he told us: “It was a little bit nip and tuck in the early exchanges after the break, but we didn’t really gain the momentum we’d shown at times in the first half.

“Whether that was down to the fact we looked a little tired because of the exertions of ten men on Tuesday, we just didn’t manage to quite play with that intensity and energy for the second 45 minutes.

“We were forced to make changes to the team for one reason or another, and that doesn’t help, but I never look for those types of excuses. We had to play Gary Miller as a left back, with both Grainger and Gillesphey missing, but that’s football and that’s what you have to deal with.

“It’s part and parcel of what will come during the push for this promotion and we’ll just have to deal with these situations along the way. I thought both teams went out there to play football but, even if that is the case, the most important thing is that you have to win the game.

“Some of our first half stuff in particular was really exciting but, let’s face the fact, we didn’t win the game. We have to learn that we need to turn the exciting parts of our football into goals and three points. That’s what we didn’t do, so it makes next week’s game even more important for us because we need to get back to winning ways.”

On a man of the match performance from Stefan Scougall, he commented: “He’s a really energetic player, as are Regan Slater, Callum O’Hare and these types of players.

“They’re all creative but this game was a disappointment in respect of the fact that we didn’t turn a very good first half into three points. That led to us suffering from a 15-minute period where we looked fatigued and we didn’t put them under enough pressure.

“We’ve obviously lost a couple of key players in striking positions during the window, but I think the important thing was that we brought in good players. I think we’re a team that can score a lot of goals if we keep playing this type of football.

“I think, given time, Mark Cullen will give us a more physical presence up top and that’s something we don’t have at this moment in time. That’s why we have to find other ways of doing things.”

The game saw the Blues take to the field without defensive duo Danny Grainger and Tom Parkes, which meant a reshuffle at the back with Gary Miller taking that left back berth.

“I thought Gary did really well,” he said. “It’s not his natural position but he has the experience to do that type of job for us.

“Danny picked up a dead leg from a couple of knocks on his thigh on Tuesday night but, had we had another 24 hours, he would probably have made the game. He’s the more likely of the two to be back for next week.

“Tom has a problem with his groin and he’s a warrior, he played through it on Tuesday night, but it’s caught up with him now. He’s been fantastic for us in recent weeks, but he’ll be a major doubt for us for next weekend.

“Peter Grant came in and settled well, and he’s a left-footed player, which gives us balance in there. It was a very composed debut from him and I’m pleased that he’s got the game under his belt.”

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