Goals from Omari Patrick and Tobi Sho-Silva earned a valuable point for the Blues in Colchester on Saturday afternoon, but manager Keith Millen spoke afterwards about the need for more improvement in all areas as he looks to get the team back to winning ways as quickly as possible.
“When you go ahead you do you’ll hold on, but I thought the conditions had an impact and it wasn’t pretty at all,” he said. “The wind affected things and the bounce of the ball on the pitch was awkward.
“I also think both teams realised the importance of the game, you could sense a nervousness, so there was a lack of quality throughout.
“It was a case of trying to make the most of the conditions and I thought we got penned in at times through the first half, mainly because of the wind.
“I thought we looked dangerous when we did get forward in the second half and one of the few times we got Omari running at them we scored a great goal.
“You go ahead and you think, ok, let’s try to be solid and see the game out, but we conceded two poor goals. I haven’t seen them again yet, but it looked like they were second phases and we’ve generally been quite good at that. I need to look at those again, definitely.”
“It was a tough game actually, a rollercoaster,” he agreed. “They probably had more territorial advantage than us, but we scored a good goal at the start of the second half.
“You can see the naivety of the group, they didn’t look after their lead. Recently there’s not been many positives so hopefully fighting back will give us a little bit of a lift, which is really important.
“I tried to make the players aware of how important this game was. I try to protect them as much as I can, but they need to know, and they did know.
“It felt like the Stevenage, Scunthorpe sort of games, and it turned out a little bit like that, where it wasn’t pretty from both teams.The only downside for me is the manner of the two goals we let in.”
“The spirit was there, we kept going and we had that little bit of quality with Joe’s cross for the second,” he added. “To be fair Tobi had a little bit of double vision so I don’t know what ball he headed, but fortunately for us he got the right one.
“He didn’t feel great so I decided to take him off, but it’s fantastic that he scored. It’s really important for him that he does that.
“Overall it’s great commitment from the group but when you look at the team we’ve become very young, because of different circumstances.
“There isn’t a lot of experience in there at all so we’re going to get mistakes and errors. Despite that they showed a lot of commitment.”
Every goal conceded can be picked apart, but losing two in such a short space of time raised concerns over the fragility that had knocked confidence in recent performances.
“Yes, definitely, I agree with that,” he told us. “You want to calm things down for a while when you go a goal up, but we couldn’t do that and you could see all of a sudden that we dropped much deeper.
“We became more nervous, which you expect when you look at the players we have at the back. They’re young lads so we have to support them and we’ve got a week of training now where we can start to make it better.
“Like I say, I think the conditions had a bit of an impact on how we defended, and Colchester used the wind well. They played forward, they turned it and they put us under pressure purely by using long balls.
“It wasn’t by getting it down and playing it because neither team did that. They came at us, particularly in the first-half, so when we got to half-time I felt we’d seen that through and that we’d go on to become the stronger team.
“I thought we did that, at times, but when you haven’t won for four straight games, which have all been defeats, you’re going to get nervous.
“It’s a start, we’ve stopped that run, we got two goals, which is a real positive, but we also know that we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
With the United contingent holding its collective breath to see if the team would crumble, having taken so many knocks in previous games, a real positive was seeing them dig deep to take the share of the spoils.
“They’ve shown us that they’re committed and that they’re trying, and we can’t fault them for that,” he said. “They had the legs to get forward and the quality to get the equaliser, but we did let ourselves panic too much and you only put yourself under pressure when that happens.
“We were fortunate a couple of times, but that’s where we are at the moment. We’re a team that’s been on a bad run and that’s had five or six injuries, and we’ve got a mix of young players and new players who have come in.
“We’re a team in transition and that isn’t easy when you aren’t playing well. It is a young group that’s had loads of changes, so that is difficult.
“When we were having the clean sheets we were organised and that’s because the players who were in that team had played a lot of games. Look at us now and it’s completely different, so there are reasons for it.
“My job is to settle them down, as a team, so that they can gain confidence, improve and get better.”
Click HERE to watch an interview with Keith Millen 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.