Defender Jack Iredale put in what was his best performance in a United shirt so far at Rodney Parade on Saturday, but he admitted afterwards that it counted for little with the points having been snatched away when substitute George Nurse won the game for the home side with the last kick of the afternoon.
Speaking first about that goal, he said: “It’s a real kick in the teeth to lose a game like that. I thought we were excellent, we did everything we set out to do.
“We controlled the game when we needed to, and we pressed the game when we needed to. We created chances, and then the first time we weren’t brave on the header from the goal kick they got the knock down, and he’s banged it in from 30-yards.
“He won’t have hit a ball like that before in his life, and it was the first time in the whole game that we didn’t challenge for the header. That’s what happens, you get punished for the small details.”
With United having controlled the game, without quite managing to find a breakthrough, he added: “We created some good chances and sometimes when they don’t go in you can start thinking it isn’t going to be your day, but I didn’t feel like that in this game.
“We were completely in control and the boys at the front worked their backsides off for the whole game to make sure we had pressure on the ball. The midfield three were excellent and the back three dominated in the air.
“When you create chances like we are it gives you confidence, and on another day we could have scored four goals. We have to make sure we take confidence from this. At half time we knew the game was there for us to win, and for the whole second half we were in control.”
But how do we make sure that confidence isn’t dented, particularly with the manner of the defeat?
“We’ve got a week to reset, but we don’t want to reset too much because we want to do more of the same,” he replied. “We want to get pressure on the ball, create chances and score goals.
“There’s a way we want to play football at this club and we aren’t too far away from it. We’re doing a lot of things right, and if we keep it that way we know we’ll be winning and heading up the table.”
The switch to 3-5-2 took himself and Christie Elliott into the wing back roles and he admitted that he’d found it to be a very enjoyable experience.
“I enjoy it because it means there’s more space in front of me to charge into when we play with two narrow strikers,” he explained. “I thought the new formation worked well with the personnel we had in the team.
“That formation means I’ve got players around me which allows me to get forward more. I’ve got Nat [Knight-Percival] who provides cover in behind then Mo [Sagaf] who works tirelessly next to me.
“We’ve got Fela up top who can hold the ball and Hallam [Hope] who is always making the runs behind, and it means you’ve got options when you’re on the ball.”
“The change to three at the back has made us much more solid and I can’t remember Adam [Collin] making a real save,” he said. “We’ve tightened up defensively which is where we had problems at the start of the season, and now we’re starting to see progress where we’re keeping things closed defensively and also creating things going forward.
“I was really happy with how I played defensively, and that’s something the gaffer spoke to me about a few weeks ago. It’s just about piecing everything together with the stuff I like to do going forward and the dirty work I need to do when it comes to defending.
“The more we play this formation, the more everyone is getting comfortable with their roles and responsibilities. Like I said, we could have scored four goals and we’d be standing here having a completely different conversation.”
“We will now go into the Crewe game full of confidence,” he concluded. “Every game in this league is tough, as clichéd as that sounds.
“It will be good to get back in front of the home fans and hopefully put in a similar performance to the one we put in today. If we do that I think the home fans will see we’re a good team and that we want to score goals and play intense football.”
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