Many of United’s team were getting their first taste of FA Cup action on Saturday afternoon – and what a baptism of fire it turned out to be as Hayes & Yeading battled hard, only to be pegged back at the last by a Jon Mellish brace.
Speaking about what had been a keenly fought contest, manager Chris Beech said: “The boys were roughed up a little bit, but that’s good.
“It’s something they’re not used to so it was a great experience for them. Like I said, what a great attitude to keep going to the end, because we could easily have given it up. It shows that if you do keep doing the right things you can make it turn your way.”
“If you think about the last eight days or so, it’s been incredible,” he added. “We had the long trip to Exeter, then we played the league leaders, and then it’s back down the road to play Hayes.
“It’s a lot of travelling and a lot of work, preparing and making decisions, and to be honest with you, they’ve come through it very well with great work.
“We had a promotion contender on the back foot with ten men, we’ve picked up another three points and we’ve made sure we’re in the next round of the cup. The lads have had a really good week.
“That type of game on Sunday was a new experience to some of the lads, and to fight like they did, and keep going, is tremendous character from them. It’ll be good to give them a bit of rest and hopefully it’ll be a more normal week leading into the weekend.”
What can’t be ignored is the obvious financial boost gained from progression in the competition.
“Yes, that’s important,” he agreed. “Nobody can come into the stadiums, so it’s vital, really. I said that after the game in my team talk.
“We have to try and build something we can utilise in January. We’re doing great in the league, we’re a young team, and everything is just great experience for them.
“There were a lot of young lads starting and they will not have experienced coming away to a non-league situation like that before. To go 12 rounds with a very good contender, and get what we need, is commendable.
“I know Hayes & Yeading feel hard done by but that’s what you get for keeping going, and hopefully the lads will do that in the league, because they’ve been doing alright.”
Looking back at Sunday, and with the clock ticking down heavily on a two-goal deficit, we wondered if there’d been even one moment where he’d contemplated seeing his team become another ‘magic of the cup’ story.
“Being honest, yes, but we kept going and that made the difference,” he revealed. “I loved the way we got the ball out of the net after Jon Mellish had scored our first, that showed we hadn’t given up.
“We told the players not to get involved in any dramas and to go again, and we scored again, which is brilliant. We felt we deserved not be in the position we were in before we scored, but there’s only us who could do something about it, and we did.
“When you’re facing down the barrel like that it’s easy to lose. That’s what I want from this team. Keep going, keep working, and sometimes it all comes off for you.”
As for the update on any knocks and bangs, he said: “Aaron Hayden had a cut to his finger, Joe Riley felt one when he was bashed behind on his calf, and they did a few tasty tackles which they got away with.
“That can happen in a game where so much is at stake. We could have made it easier on ourselves but their keeper made some good saves, so I’d be ore concerned if we weren’t getting into positions and if we weren’t winning games.
“We have so much energy and commitment, and everything else will come off the back of that. It’ll come as we continue to grow, because the chances are there.
“Our forwards will have better days and they’ll get their goals. I’ve told you before that Gav Reilly is the best finisher at the club, and once he gets it into his game he’ll be on a roll.”
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