United had to come from behind to earn a point after they started slowly against Harrogate on Saturday afternoon, and we caught up with manager Chris Beech to get his thoughts shortly after the game had finished at full time.
“Harrogate are very good at doing what they do,” he said. “They got the ownership of the first 15 to 20 minutes and they managed to get a goal up through their endeavours. It was a mix of hard work and a quality finish, he squeezed it in from a tight angle.
“It freezes people up, because this isn’t part of the plan. But they did respond very well, I’ve had to make changes, it’s no disrespect to the players that have come off the pitch, it’s just how it fits us moving forwards to try and gain something out of that game. We did that, but didn’t do enough to win.”
“That’s frustrating for the players because they’re not getting what they want,” he added. “You have to commend the opponent, they’re strong and willing to be physical against it, and they were.
“We didn’t get it down enough and play but it’s difficult sometimes in games, it’s hot, tight, their wide men come inside, lots of players are inside and it’s hard to get it down and play.
“You have to have a moment within the game whether it’s a good chest, flick or pass, and as soon as that sets off, you play from that point very well, but we didn’t get that enough. It wasn’t on our terms in the first half at all, but in the second half we had a real good go.”
“We obviously didn’t win the game, and it was disappointing to be honest with you, the way we started the match,” he told us. “A lot of people judge on goals scored against for how we’ll you’re playing but I thought that was probably the poorest we’ve started a game this season.
“We did pick up but ultimately we didn’t do enough to win that game. We’ve put a lot of work in for the last nine or ten weeks, and sometimes it just happens like that, and if you don’t get something in the game early on it can affect you.
“With a hard day at work you can often feel you’ve done twice as much as you actually have when you look back on it. They’ll feel like they’ve climbed a mountain when in actual fact it’ll probably be less than we did on Tuesday. It just feels different, and when it’s like that we have to try and stimulate it, which is what we did.”
On the reasons behind the frustrating start to the game, he said: “It’s hard to give a specific reason. You prepare for your opponent, you want a high line, you want your players to compete for the first ball and look for the seconds.
“We lost the initial ball, we didn’t turn it over enough, and they got ascendant from that. We got a warning when they scored the goal that didn’t count, but sometimes when you haven’t been round the block a few times you can get a fear or anxiety that sets in.
“What I was pleased about was that I can see it happening, and we tried to do something about it. We managed to be better, but it wasn’t enough.”
Part of the reason for the improved second half were the three changes made during the break, which also brought a change of formation.
“The lads responded, but I don’t like doing it,” the gaffer told us. “It got put on my toes, I either sit back and accept it’s not quite right or I do something.
“At half time I told the players that I wanted them to go and win it, go out and win the half and see what happens. They did, but we couldn’t quite get the two goals to win the game.
“I wanted to see a spark and energy in the performance, which I think we got more of. Ethan Walker did very well, looked very sprightly. He got his shot off that got deflected, one of the first things he did when coming on the pitch, nearly scored.
“That sets him up to have a good 45 minutes which is commendable to him because he’s had to be patient. But he looked fresh. Other players looked like they were a yard behind him, so they have to go home, refresh and be ready for Cheltenham.”
The equaliser came from a well delivered set piece, with Callum Guy providing yet another assist.
“It was very good, and JJ got himself between the goal, six-yards out, and he made sure he got some sort of contact and physicality to that situation to get his goal.
“We kept pushing at the end and we had a few driving slide passes which weren’t quite right. It was a yard to far, or a cross where we didn’t quite get contact.
“Obviously we might have to rely on something somebody gives us, and when they get it wrong and kick it against their own bar, it ricochets out to one of their boys. That is frustrating but it’s good pressure from us, some good football within that, but of course there’s frustration because we want to win.
“And we do say that if you can’t win, don’t lose, and the players have to stick together doing that until the end. We’ve got to make sure that the team remains a team, the team’s the most important factor at any football club, people forget that.
“The first team and the team is the most important factor of a football club while we represent everybody else’s jobs, inputs, investments, support structures. We have to make sure we stay united, it’s approaching the last game of the season and we have to try and extend that.
“We’re going to have to be very, very good to do that. We can’t forget the lads have worked ever so hard with what happened at Christmas and the situation of playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday.
“We need to find a balance now as we go into the last three games, but I wouldn’t be too despondent about the players’ efforts because they’ve given it everything, and they still are. The lads were just half a yard off it.
“It didn’t feel like they were trying to get on it as much as they should, and we didn’t capitalise on those in between moments. We initially had an extra player in midfield, but we didn’t get on it and use that factor enough. We weren’t passing it, so you look at that and you think you have to change things.
“I could have stayed with it, and accepted it, but I wanted us to try to win. With such a good record at home it is hard to take when you’re not quite right, which is how it was today.
“I’ve noticed in the last few games we’ve been faster, quicker and better on Tuesday nights rather than in the sunshine on a Saturday. We travelled on the day to Newport but we looked very quick and hungry.
“I can’t question the commitment of the lads but when there’s more than three or four of them who aren’t right it’s very difficult. You can’t question the effort, and the subs came on and made a difference, but we only got one point.
“It isn’t time to give up, we just have to maximise our last three opportunities. I know they’re running out but it’s commendable we’re in this position talking about it.
“I think we’re five points outside the play-offs and we were five points off being a non-league team. We have to remember that as we try to progress, and remember that the boys are giving everything.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Chris Beech on iFollow United now.
Click HERE to see a clip from this interview on our YouTube channel. Follow the same link for more FREE content right from the heart of the club.