United’s league season kicked off at Cambridge on Saturday, but it was a disappointing end result as the Abbeymen took advantage of two early lapses to give themselves something to defend.
Speaking about the game afterwards, manager Chris Beech said: “We’ve lost the game by three goals but I can’t recall too many shots that Cambridge have had.
“I told the lads about the wingers coming inside, because they play two up front and they try to make the back four drop off. They come at you if you allow that space to develop, which we did for the first goal.
“It’s important that you clear the first ball, but of course Hannant has picked it up on the inside and had a free run at the box. From there he picked his spot.
“All of the goals were very similar and even the third goal was us heading the ball inside, and they pick that up, play it wide to the right and score from it. I suppose it’s a little bit similar to last week in terms of where my head is from watching that match.
“We’ve constantly been involved but I don’t know for definite, without looking at the stats, but I would imagine we’ve had close to 20 attempts at goal but not enough of them where we worked the goalkeeper.”
“I thought their two centre halves were just better than ours,” he continued. “Any cross that came in they headed it away. Any clearance that was needed, they made and blocked.
“The two centre forwards that played for Cambridge, if you look at it, they did very well in terms of being very physical and nudging, pushing, clipping heels and doing things like that. They were excellent at that.
“It put our lads out of their stride and I think that made a significant difference to the result.”
The Blues were two down within 20 minutes with the manner of the goals conceded again a cause for concern.
“If you don’t stop a cross from coming in, or if players collide and the ball drops favourably for them, you can’t train for things like that,” the gaffer told us. “You have to learn from it, that’s all you can do.
“Then you look to progress your team to make sure it doesn’t happen again. That’s all you can ever do.
“That goal, they’re going for the same ball in an eagerness to do well. It’s not about letting us down or not wanting to do well. They’ve just got to communicate a bit earlier, maybe one voice and one action. But it wasn’t. It was no voice and two bumped heads. It didn’t bode well for the outcome.
“There were some good passages of play and some constant pressure, but we didn’t create the clear chance. I thought Ethan Walker did well coming on, he’s got a bit about him, and if you look at the players we had out today, it’s excellent but it’s early.
“It’s the first league game and they’ve got to get in rhythm with themselves. It’s the first away game where we’ve had to travel and get ready for it. They’ve got to find themselves and I’ve just told that to the changing room.
“I’m not going to fall out with everybody, it’s simple what we need to do, it’s simple how we should have played against Cambridge. If I’m being truly honest, if you include both this week’s and last week’s games it’s hard to judge your opponent in terms of how they play, but they still beat us by three goals to nil.”
The number of entries into the box and deliveries from wide from the Carlisle contingent was significant, but with it having failed to reap any rewards we wondered how that could be changed to make sure that possession was turned into positive results going forward.
“I think we need to stop being so nice,” he commented. “The boys are strong, but all Cambridge did was use their strengths better. The two centre halves were constantly fouling JJ Kayode in the first half, but they got away with it.
“The two centre forwards were constantly fouling my centre halves, but they got away with it. That made a big difference because the ref couldn’t see what was going on.
“We get the ball down, get it wide, try to take players on, get crosses in, I don’t know how many corners we had, but it must have been more than them.
“We get half chances and we’ve got to better on the edge of the box to pick up some of these half clearances, either to shoot or to recycle it out wide, and these are the things we’ve just got to do better
“I don’t think the players are playing within themselves, or anything like that. You could see physical effort, you could see the energy, but sometimes it doesn’t go your way.
“The two centre halves are probably trying too hard and they both go for the same ball with that first goal.
“You could argue that you’re better two going for it than none going for it, but they’ve collided and the ball bounces to Cambridge. It shouldn’t happen, but it has happened. From there they’ve taken their chances and we haven’t.”
On what will be done to make sure things improve, he told us: “No panic buttons are being hit, but what we have to do is make sure we do things better.
“I’ve just said to Paul [Farman], you’ve conceded three goals in each game and I can’t remember him making a save, this week or last week.
“We must keep perspective. It’s the first league game of the season but what people will do is say that the first two cup matches are in there as well. I accept that but, like I said, the players have to get in rhythm and they have to get used to playing with each other.
“They need to learn to respond when there’s no crowd, and it’s so difficult when you go behind in the current circumstances because the footballs take forever to get back on the pitch, because you have to pick the other ones up with their being no ball boys.
“The referees aren’t speeding up opponents to make sure it’s right. It’s wrong that the balls behind the goals are miles away in the second half, when they were much nearer in the first half, but the ref doesn’t see these things and it significantly makes differences to tempo and opportunities to fight and play.
“You see players kicking a ball and it bounces back onto the pitch, and it means you can’t play. It slows everything down when you want to get going and when you’re chasing for something. The lads chased, and if they hadn’t I’d be very frustrated, but they did.”
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