United looked comfortable for long periods of their first-round FA Cup meeting with Tranmere, and their two-goal cushion came off the back of another assured performance right across every area of the park.
“We just found a way and that’s what you have to do in cup competitions,” manager Paul Simpson said. “It got a bit scary to be honest with you, towards the end, because we invited pressure on a little bit.
“We gave it away too cheaply in the last 10 minutes or so, but you’ve got to say credit to the players for the way they worked to get on top in the game overall.
“I’m delighted to have got 55 or 60 minutes, or whatever it was, out of Tobi [Sho-Silva] because that’s the first chunk of match minutes that he’s had from the start of a game. To get that out of him is really pleasing.
“He was a real handful and then it shows the situation we’re in when we’ve got Taylor Charters and Jordan Gibson as our two strikers at the end. Then we have to bring a young kid on, Nic Bollado, just to get us some energy and to run around and give them something to think about.
“My final message to them before the game was to make sure we were in the hat for the next round. I told them to find a way, and that’s exactly what they’ve done.”
“Performing well, doing the job, it’s on the players,” he commented. “It’s always about them. They’ve gone about their business properly and got themselves into a really good position in the game.
“We headed and kicked, we defended as a unit, and let’s be fair, we had some luck as well. I think it’ll give everybody a huge boost that we’re still involved in the FA Cup, that keeps that ticking along, but we have to shelve it for now.
“We’ve got another game on Tuesday now and that’s the most important thing. We’ll see who we get in the draw on Monday and hopefully it’s kind to us.”
Important for any team is to develop good habits, and the signs from the last fortnight are good in that area with two very good displays yielding positive outcomes.
“Winning games of football is a really nice habit to have,” he agreed. “That’s two on the spin, and I want it to be three on the bounce now.
“I want to go to Harrogate and see us put on a proper performance. We’ve got a few more bodies available come Tuesday, but we are losing Jon Mellish to his suspension.
“I want us to keep good habits and for us to go on a run of wins, and certainly a run of being unbeaten.
“We’ve got a good opportunity against a side who will be flying after getting a result at Bradford. We’ll get ourselves dusted down and ready to go for that one.”
Once again it was an early save from keeper Tomas Holy that provided the springboard to the rest of the game.
“He made a good save, but I’ve got to say we got out of jail a little bit with the one that they had disallowed,” he commented. “It was a bit unfair on Tranmere because I’m not really sure it was a foul.
“In my opinion Tomas has got to come and take everything out to get those types of balls. When you’re that size, the size he is, you should be smashing the lot, so we did get away with that.
“Saying that, we got done by two the other week against Orient where the referee’s assessor has admitted that there were two mistakes, one with the penalty that wasn’t given and the other the offside, so maybe that was a bit of payback for us.
“I’m not saying it’s right, but people do tell us that it all evens itself out over the course of the season. Maybe that’s what’s happened here with that one.
“We put our match report in and a letter came back admitting those mistakes. When it comes to them not giving that penalty against Orient, I know it’s a separate incident, but if it had been given Ryan wouldn’t have been sent of.
“So, yeah, we had two against us there, one has gone our way against Tranmere, so let’s see when we get our second one.”
Taking the lead when you’re on top in a game is always important, and that’s how it went as Jordan Gibson popped up in the right place at the right time in the first half.
“That will do him the world of good,” he said. “He struggled to get goals earlier on in the season but he now has a couple to his name.
“Hopefully this is the start of him going on a run and being productive for us. We said during the break that the next goal was going to be really important.
“It was a really good piece of football when it came. Again we had Taylor Charters showing a good level of ability and composure on the ball, he slid it for Jayden Harris, and then it was great feet from him.
“Dynel Simeu was lucky that it went over the line because it looked like he handled it a couple of times. The referee gave the goal and, if he hadn’t, that would have been a red for Dynel.
“Jay will be well chuffed. He’s come on in some games and done really well, and I thought I needed to put him on to get some extra energy out there.
“What a great bit of skill to take it round the goalkeeper, I thought he’d made the wrong decision and he should have slotted it with his right foot, thankfully it’s still a goal and in a week or two I won’t remember how he’s done it, it’s still a goal.”
“It came at a good time,” he continued. “It gave us a little bit of a cushion, but unfortunately we allowed ourselves to relax onto that cushion too much and we lost our way.
“Up until the second goal I thought there was so much going in one direction. We’ve knocked them a little bit with our victory last weekend, when they’ve got a good home record.
“I still think they’ll be a good side this season and up in the top places. Thankfully they haven’t been for our two games so far. Towards the end we saw probably closer to what they’re about in the problems they gave us.
“I also think we gave ourselves some problems by giving the ball away cheaply and not staying on the front foot. We started doing daft things and I’m just pleased we’re through and credit to the players for that.
“Credit to Tranmere as well. They went for it, they showed desire and spirit. They were throwing forward players on to make it difficult for us, but we hung in there through defending as a team and working hard.
“They got their goal when we switched off from the free kick. That’s really disappointing because we do a lot of work on being alive and doing our jobs properly.
“The lad hit a good shot, Tomas parried it across goal and unfortunately we’re getting done a little bit on second phases of set plays at the moment. We need to nip that in the bud.
“Ideally I’d like us to switch on and stop that first bit of it happening. If you don’t you then need to lock onto your man and stop the next bit. Thankfully it hasn’t cost us, we’re in the draw for round two, so we all move on.”