United took an early lead and battled hard to take all three points on Saturday afternoon in what became an enthralling encounter with Salford City at the Peninsular Stadium.
We caught up with Chris Beech at full time to get his thoughts on the game.
“It’s frustrating that we didn’t see it through but the commitment and energy was very good to see,” he said. “There were good tackles, heading, and a clean controlled performance in terms of defending.
“It was a great goal we scored, that was very pleasing. We came into it in a situation where they’re unbeaten at home and remain unbeaten, but that wasn’t really any motivation for us, we were just concentrating on trying to gain three points.
“We couldn’t do it, they have excellent support, a strong team that’s starting then one of the substitutes came on and put the ball in the back of the net.”
On the quality of the goal, with him having shouted at his right back to make sure he got it on target moments before a connection was made, he told us: “It was great, it’s what happens when you can start doing what you’re meant to do, train regular, play outside and play games.
“George scored against Morecambe as well. I said to him I wish you would have signed for everybody else in League Two and you’d be top scorer in the league, because he seems to only score against his old clubs.
“I don’t actually think he played much here when he came on loan, which agitated him, but well done to him for scoring. He’s one of many who is a good, committed lad and these boys are all ambitious. It’s great having a crop of lads under 21 who want to do so well.
“I did shout, but we shout a lot, to try and support the players before they commit to what their actions are. It’s more advice rather than commanding, but we often shout to tell them to keep it low, keep it low when you strike through a ball because it asks the question.
“I dislike the old ‘oooh’ that just misses the top corner, but ultimately it’s a goal kick. If you keep it low, and it’s on target, the goalie has to work, and within that something else can happen from it. George did that but it went straight in the back of the net.
“It comes from a situation where Omari was excellent, taking players on, then we’ve got a fullback on the edge of the box. It’s almost fullback to fullback with Nick crossing it, and that’s great football, the quality of the goal is excellent.
“Going ahead gives you a little bit of belief, as we saw at Harrogate, and with us all we’re trying to do is score goals, create chances and win three points.”
One of the absorbing elements of the game was the midfield contest, which saw both sets of players work hard to try to find the edge.
“We worked ever so hard and you can’t hide away from the fact they have some quality players,” he commented. “You’ve got Paul Coutts who’s dictated many a game much higher than League Two, and you have to respect him.
“Then there is his partner in crime in Jason Lowe who’s played probably more times in the Championship than any other level. We had to make sure they couldn’t dictate the game. They tried, but we were very competitive against that.
“They’ve also got an outstanding individual on loan from Leeds in Gotts, he’s trying his best to make a name in the game and get his goals, he’s here on loan. Joe Riley and Callum Guy had to keep a real close eye on that one.
“You have to respect the way they play with a system that has five players at the back and the wing back, Ashley Hunter, is actually a centre forward.
“That’s backed up by Richie Towell who’s a scorer of great goals from outside the box. It was a difficult situation but tactically we had to do something prior to playing them, and it worked to a degree, even though we didn’t quite get our three points. We defended as a team but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to keep a clean sheet.”
But the goal for the home team came despite a superb display from keeper Paul Farman.
“He did great, did really well, really pleased to see him play as well as that because it’s often he’s played for us in the first half of the season, and even at the start of the season when we conceded a few goals, and he didn’t hardly have any shots to save,” he said. “He got asked a few more questions and he answered them.
“He even answered the goal, he did really well with that, he saved the initial shot but unfortunately it went straight back to the player who could put it in the net.
“It was a good goal. That’s what you get when you can have access to players that have played for Sir Alex Ferguson. He didn’t rush it did he, he composed himself, took the touch, and made sure he picked his spot. That’s why they ended up equalising.
“But Paul needs great credit for taking the first shot on and saving it. He was just unlucky with where the rebound ended up. He had a couple of one against ones where he used his body very well, then they got in, but they will do, they’ve got some excellent football players.
“They’re Championship standard players in League Two. They’re always going to question any opposition and three’s no divine right to win any game, but I was very proud of our performance in terms of what we gave.
“We know what Paul is about and he will get called upon between now and the end of the season. Hopefully we’ll get back to our energy and quality and hopefully we won’t be as reliant on situations like that.
“We’ve had an unbelievable period which is probably unique in football with the weather, coronavirus and the amount of time we’ve not been able to train or play. So to come here and get back into some sort of rhythm and do what we did is exceptional.”
But having put in the hard work, we wondered how the lads were feeling about not having quite made it over the line to take the three points.
“They’re pleased and gutted at the same time,” he said. “It’s a strange feeling. They’ve put in a lot of running, headers, tackles and it’s hard on this pitch because it’s very heavy.
“Jon Mellish was excellent. If anything, when we went to Harrogate the other day, Jon will be the first to admit, he’s had coronavirus, had a calf injury before his coronavirus, and then played back to back games Saturday-Tuesday against Exeter and Forest Green.
“He wasn’t the Jon Mellish we know. I think by bringing him out and he’s worked a bit harder in training, had a little more time, and he’s getting back to where he was.
“As the game went on we added attackers because we wanted the win. Ozzy is rough and tumble, he did great on some longer balls, made them our balls, he did brilliant on one where he chests it in their box and checked inside.
“There was a gap to shoot, perhaps he could have took it, but decided to try and play his mate in. I’m sure he’ll get goals for us as we progress in this challenge ahead.”
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