Saturday saw United scored three goals in a league game for the first time since May 2021, when they slotted a trio past Orient at the Breyer Group Stadium, and all of the strikes showed quality in different ways as the Blues battled their way to a share of the spoils.
The first came before the break, and what a stunner it was as Jon Mellish wrapped his boot round a loose ball with an overhead kick.
“It was decent, and I certainly haven’t been demonstrating it to him, that’s for sure,” manager Paul Simpson joked. “Mells is one of those players who you don’t know what he’s going to do.
“He probably hasn’t got a clue what he’s doing either, and we’ll take goals from anywhere and in any way they come. That was just great flexibility.
“If anybody had seen me doing that it was a dream - I couldn’t possibly do that sort of thing. It’s just having that knack of scoring, and he has got that. I’m told he had a season where he got a bagful of goals. That’s two now. Hopefully he’ll get another bagful this season.”
“If we can get more and more players involved, if we can get our centre backs getting 10 to 15 goals between them, it’ll make things feel better for us all,” he added. “And we need our strikers scoring goals.
“Kristian Dennis is scoring for fun at the moment, but that can’t always carry on. We need other people to start chipping in.
“We’ve got Jordan Gibson who I think should be getting goals, Mox should be getting goals, Omari’s just so close so far, he’s had another one today that looks a really bad miss, but their defender got a touch on it before it came to him. We just need those things to fall into place and we’ll be ok.
“I’m really pleased for Denno, and it’s great for Hunts. He got on the end of a great delivery and he reads the flight of the ball well, it was a great flick. I’m reluctant to say there were a lot of positives from the game, but there are things we can take from it and keep building on.”
But, it has to be said, six goals from seven appearances from frontman Dennis isn’t a bad return.
“It’s a nasty habit, isn’t it, and long may it continue,” the gaffer said. “He is a natural scorer, just like they’ll talk about Quigley and Henderson being the same.
“That’s what Denno does for us and we have to get our other forward players doing the same to help him out a bit. They need to realise the importance of getting goals and if we can just get them convinced about that then we’ll be pushing on with it.
“It is finding the way. I thought we kept going for it, we just got into areas where our decision-making wasn’t good.
“I can think of times where we made the wrong decisions, our execution of the decisions was poor, and on other occasions we were close, we had another corner where Mellish got on the end of a Paul Huntington head down, I think the goalkeeper made the save or whatever happened, we got another corner.
“There was the ball at the end from Fin Back, whipped in, and Jordan Gibson’s millimetres from getting his head on it. There are so many ifs and buts, and I’m quite sure Jim would be saying the same for Rochdale.
“They had opportunities as well, the game was a bit too gung-ho for me from both sides. It's what I expected from them, I think they’re not a bad side, they’ve got good individual players, players who are a threat.
“I think the second goal was a really well-worked goal that we should have done better with. Third goal we gave the ball away cheaply on the left, recovered well but then still allowed a cross to come in.
“For me this league is about first contact, second balls, stopping crosses, sadly we just didn’t do that on three occasions and we’ve only ended up coming away with a point, but it’s still a positive point because we were 3-1 down at one stage.”
Picking up on that previously mentioned positive of scoring from set pieces, he told us: “If you can be right from set plays at any level it works well for you in any league.
“If you defend them and attack them properly you’re in a better place. A lot of goals are scored from them in every league in football and we’ve got people who can deliver them into good areas.
“It was Mox today, sometimes it’s Dev, Gibbo or Callum Guy. You have to have a desire to score when they come in, and Hunts showed that he certainly has that on this occasion.
“There are a lot of but sadly just not enough, I wanted more, a better start to the game, to try and take control of it. I’m happy with a point in the end because of the position we were in, but it’s not what we set out to get.”
And getting three goals after such a long wait has to be something else that can be built on.
“We’ve never talked about the fact that we haven’t done that for a while, to be honest with you,” he revealed. “We’ve always said if we can get that first goal we don’t just sit back, we have to keep pushing to get two and three.
“I have to say I’ve looked enviously at other teams when they’re getting two, three and four goals and we’re scrapping around. I think we’ve just got to keep going.
“It’s been an ok start for us, and I’m sure every manager and head coach will be looking at their results so far. I think we left two points at Colchester, at home against Swindon, and I think we’ve left two points today.
“Six points makes a massive difference to where we could and possibly should be. I can’t get too screwed up about it because that’s what we haven’t got. I have to make sure we keep building on what we have got.”
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