United boss Chris Beech gave us his reaction to the Tranmere defeat shortly after full time on Tuesday night.
“It was a night where we didn’t really get a clear-cut chance,” he said. “Omari Patrick’s strike was excellent and it drew a good save from the goalkeeper, and he got in behind again but made a wrong decision when he pulled it back instead of shooting.
“I thought he was excellent when he came on to be honest, but we didn’t really work the goalkeeper enough. We we were huffing and puffing without getting that clear-cut moment.
“Their keeper pulled off a great save early in the game, it could have been 1-0 but it didn’t go in. They play a certain way, and they kept the ball in the middle of the pitch, but in the first half I can’t remember Paul [Farman] having to make a save, so it didn’t really matter.
“They probably didn’t play as well in the second half but they ended up having a couple of shots at goal, and football is like that sometimes. We spent a lot of time in the second half in their half but, if anything, we lacked a little bit of composure in terms of bringing the ball down and playing that extra pass. We didn’t quite work the opportunity to get the equaliser.”
Speaking more about the amount of possession we had in the opposition half, without making it count, he commented: “They had something to protect and they had a monstrous diagonal ball that they kept trying.
“That’s where the goal came from, the boy brought it down and was allowed to have three or four touches before he picked his spot. That’s something we don’t normally give away, but we did tonight.
“Great credit to them for scoring a good goal, but from my point of view it was very avoidable. I wouldn’t like to blame our attacking players, we had a point to protect and at that point we needed to play a few more passes and retain the ball instead of giving it away.
“When we do that, then it allows their attacking players to push forward and take people on. We’ve got to make cleaner decisions in the final third and we didn’t quite get that right.
“We turned up to play a team with League One players on big money. We’re trying to build and go against these teams, I dread to think what their budgets are and how they try to support what they’re doing.
“That’s nothing to do with me but you’ve got to respect the fact that’s where they are. They’re a team on the up because they’ve got a new manager. I was quite comfortable at half time, but they hit that diagonal ball two or three times early in the second half.
“They had the shot that Paul saved and the goal, but other than that I can’t recall them having many clear-cut chances either.”
With the players visibly downbeat at the whistle, he told us: “Of course we all want to win. That’s what sport is about, we won well on Saturday and we won’t accept getting beat tonight, but it’s about what we do next.
“I won’t sulk and start pointing the finger at the lads, it’s about making sure they understand why we’ve done well and who we’re playing against. We’ve got to take stock of that and deal with it over the next few days before the FA Cup game.
“I want to win and they want to follow me, we want to do well together. I wanted to win tonight because it’s another opportunity for us to get three points. We had two away games back to back and a lot of miles to travel between.
“That’s the way the fixtures fall and we have to deal with it. We didn’t but we commend the efforts, but the quality needed to be a little bit better. We lacked that bit of zest which means you make a better decision, or your touch is better, which causes a completely different problem to your opponent.
“If everybody is 5% down on it, then your team is 55% down on it. It felt a little bit like that to me, and it’s difficult to try and get the zest back into them when it’s happening. Tranmere weren’t a long way above us, it was an even game, but it went their way.
“It was a tight game and a little bit of brilliance has separated the teams in their favour. I thought Tranmere passed the ball better in the first half but they weren’t really doing anything to our back line so I was comfortable at half time.
“We’re disappointed because it felt like we were going to get a goal. When Gav Reilly came on the ball dropped to him two or three times, but he was having to go and get the ball, it didn’t quite drop to him to get a clean strike or anything like that.
“It’s disappointing not to get something out of it, but this happens and it will happen again. With a bit of luck in the future we’ll play not as well and get more out of a game.”
A concern from the evening was when midfielder Callum Guy took a heavy fall, which saw him eventually leave the pitch with 20 minutes left to play.
“I think he was on the end of a bad tackle and then collided with two players in the middle of the pitch when he went up for a header,” he explained. “He ended up landing on his back so he was in the wars.
“He puts his body on the line for us and what I liked about it was that he didn’t want to come off. He carried on and made some good interceptions. He didn’t quite dominate as much as he usually does but the game was hard, and they had a lot of players in the middle of the pitch, so it was hard for the game to settle down.
“Rod McDonald didn’t come. He’s had a scan. It’s not really bad but it’s a bit longer than a week. We’ll just see how he goes. He’s very frustrated but we’ll deal with it.
“I thought the boys at the back, apart from the goal and that one other shot, were very good and kept some good players quiet. We just couldn’t build from that base.”
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