United head into Emirates FA Cup action at Dulwich Hamlet on Friday night with four points from their last two games under their belts, and with the players looking more confident off the back of the improved results.
Assistant boss Gavin Skelton spoke again about the importance of working through tough periods following the weekend home win.
“If you’re not winning games, pressure comes, that’s natural,” he said. “But if you win, then you don’t win the next game, pressure comes again. That doesn’t change at any club.
“If you’re not winning, pressure mounts, and if you win it eases for a couple of games. Getting those wins sometimes has to come by hook or by crook, it doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you get the result.”
With the 4-3-3 formation having worked so well for the second half at Orient, he confirmed that the manager was looking for more of the same with the way he sent the team out against the Silkmen.
“It did work well for us last week, but sometimes you also look at different attacks and how they set up,” explained. “I think the manager has commented that we’ll flip between systems for certain circumstances. We worked on the back four all week and those two – Jarrad Branthwaite and Jon Mellish – have played a lot together.
“There have been big improvements from both of them from the bounce games and they worked together as a good partnership. They haven’t played a lot as a two in games, they’ve often played as a three, so it’s credit to them.
“They’re making it tough for the manager now in terms of selection, and that’s exactly what you want. There are two very experienced centre backs who want to be involved as well, but these lads have done brilliantly.
“I’m sure he’ll reflect over next week and see what’s best, but they’ve given themselves every opportunity.”
And with 17-year-old prospect Jarrad Branthwaite picking up his second man-of-the-match award in as many home games, he said: “He doesn’t panic, does he? He’s very composed and, like I say, it was an excellent performance alongside Jon Mellish.
“They worked really well as a pair. We do a lot with them in the afternoons, along with Aaron Hayden and the young strikers, and it’s nice to see bits like that come to fruition.
“There are no words to describe it with Jarrad. For a young lad like that, he just doesn’t panic, even if we do go behind. At the Northampton game, he could perhaps have done better for the first goal, but it doesn’t affect him and that’s the biggest compliment I could pay him. He keeps his composure and going forward he’s a fantastic prospect for the club.
“He’s done fantastically well but he’s still got a long way to go. If he drops off it his performance will drop off, so he has to keep his feet on the floor.”
And on some of the other young players in the group, he told us: “I thought our young back four were fantastic and well marshalled by the experience of Adam Collin.
“Then you have Harry [McKirdy], he wants to play every minute. He keeps telling you his stats are good, he keeps informing you of that. Nathan Thomas had his moments, and you know he has even more to give, which is great for him and us.
“Hopefully the ones who haven’t had much game time like Elias will see that and they’ll keep working so that they can take their opportunity when it comes. I often say to them, football isn’t fair, sometimes you get dropped or taken off when you don’t feel you should.
“It doesn’t change, even if you’re 35. Sometimes it isn’t a fair game, but when it works your way it’s a fantastic game.”
“We’re obviously really pleased for Lofty,” he commented. “It is tough, professional football is tough, but he’s spent a lot of time doing extra training, finishing drills, and it’s nice to see it bobble through the goalkeeper’s legs into the net at the Warwick Road End for him.”
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