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Interviews

Bonner and Iredale on Gillingham

27 September 2021

Both U's manager Mark Bonner and full back Jack Iredale spoke to local media this morning ahead of their clash with Gillingham tomorrow...

The U's come off the back of Saturday's 2-2 draw with Fleetwood whereby Mark Bonner's men were pegged back after leading thanks to Adam May and Shilow Tracey's strikes either side of half-time.

First up, boss Mark Bonner faced the local press.

On Saturday's draw with Fleetwood:

“We are fairly pleased with the result, I think we certainly deserved something from the game and when you look back at it, we were a little bit uncertain quite how to respond after a draw, we were more disappointed than anything because we should have won the game, we had enough chances to do so, we had spells in the second half without the ball but without too much threat on our goal. Alex Cairns in their net made some good saves.

"We were more disappointed than anything because we should have won the game" - Mark Bonner

“We should have had a penalty in the 90th minute, it is a nailed on foul on Sam Smith if you watch it back – and if it is not a foul on him, then we should be finishing the attack because it is never in a million years of foul from Sam [Smith], so that is a decision that has really cost us the match winning moment in the 90th minute.  That was a major frustration for us on Saturday, in what was a good game and a really good performance against a team that in form.”

On the challenge of League One:

“It has been the challenge we thought it would be, it is a really good level and a big step up. There are some clinical teams you play against, and we must be at our best to be competitive.

"We are pleased with the number of points we have, we are pleased with how we are learning and dealing with some of the challenges we have come up against." - Mark Bonner

“I have no idea where we thought we would be at this stage and it is pointless making predictions in that sense really, we just wanted to be a competitive team. We can see how many points we have at that 10-game mark because that is probably a better stage to try and evaluate where we are – although, that still does not really give you a huge idea on where the table is going to end up, as we have seen many times before.

“We are pleased with the number of points we have, we are pleased with how we are learning and dealing with some of the challenges we have come up against, all you have to do is look at Saturday, after conceding that early goal, the response to that was brilliant. It is a good indicator into where we are going and how we are developing, but there is plenty more for us to do and to keep improving.

“You do not get too many games that are incredibly one sided, in terms of score, they happen course but so far it has shown itself to be a well-balanced league where so many teams in it can be competitive and aspire to be in the play offs. Everyone says it is the strongest League One for years.”

On Gillingham:

“They have had a lot of draws but you look at the last two, they have had some tough games. When you draw games, you are just trying to work out how you can convert that into three pointers rather than one, but at the same time, if you cannot win, do not get beat!

“At the moment they will be trying to find that steppingstones to winning performances but at the same time, they are showing themselves to be a really tough team to beat and a tough nut to crack. Some good sides of the failed to do that so far this season, so we know that that they will give us a challenge.     

“We just need to know how we take that next step against them – firstly how we can be competitive in the game as they are a physical team that will give us a lot of challenges and make us defend our box, and secondly, how can we convert the chances we get and try to be dominant for long periods of the game.

"Gillingham have got some pace and power that can carry the ball up the pitch and creative players that can score from distance" - Mark Bonner

“We have got to stand up to that physicality, but they have also got some pace and power that can carry the ball up the pitch and creative players that can score from distance. They are a threat on set plays, and we know that they have got a vast array of options and ways in which they can go about their play.

“The fans were brilliant on Saturday, and when we went behind early on, they really got behind us. I love mid-week games and games under the lights so hopefully it provides us with a good atmosphere but more importantly a performance that can get us something from the game.

“We beat Steve Evans’ Gillingham side before, but we are two completely different teams and different groups of players as it was in a cup competition where both teams make changes to the team. I think they are very different scenarios.”

Team News:

“Everybody has come out of Saturday’s game okay, a bit tired, bruised and battered as you would expect, so I do not think we will be forced into anything. We have got a bench full of players desperate to get on the pitch and contribute to the team, so we must find a balance between getting some freshness in the team and keeping the momentum generated by good performances recently.

"I have shown in the past that we will change a winning team and will take people out of the team that might have done well in the previous game." - Mark Bonner

“I have shown in the past that we will change a winning team and will take people out of the team that might have done well in the previous game and put someone in it has not played for a while – we will do whatever we think is the right thing for that individual game and try not to get too hooked on form and previous games. There is lots to think about in terms of how we go about tomorrow's game.

“We will see Lloyd [Jones] this morning and hopefully he will be out on the grass, we will have to wait and see how he does before making a decision. Wes [Hoolahan] will not train for a few days yet so he's not available again.

“Everyone else is fine.”

U’s left back Jack Iredale was next up to speak to the media:

On life in League One:

 “I am enjoying it in terms of differences, I do not think there is any real differences physically, League Two is a very physical and League One has been the same. Something I have noticed is the improvement in both boxes, and team’s ability to score goals, you get punished a lot a lot quicker for mistakes made. If you look at the standard of the goals that we conceded against Lincoln the other week, or even the second goal we conceded on Saturday, the lad cut in and put it in the top corner, so that is probably the biggest difference I have noticed between the two leagues.

"I have noticed the improvement in both boxes, and team's ability to score goals, you get punished a lot a lot quicker for mistakes make." - Jack Iredale

“I think every time you go up indivision teams get tactically better, and really as a group we have to improve as much as possible and keep competing well which I think we started off solidly and we have competed really well, and the challenge is to continue doing more of the same and get better.”

On developing his own game:

“I love to get forward, I grew up as a left winger, so I have always got that little bit of wanting to get it forward. Especially with my position nowadays, the modern-day full back has got to be good defensively but also you have got to contribute going forward so I have been looking at adding things to my game and improving things in my game.

“I think the four goals I scored last season came when I was playing in left midfield, whereas this season I have played all my games left back, so I have had to be more defensively minded and improve on that stuff, which I think I am doing at the minute.

"I love to get forward!" - Jack Iredale

“You always want to be involved in goal contributions, I got my first one the weekend and I will take a goal contribution however it comes, whether it is an assist or a goal. Obviously everyone wants to score a goal but playing further back this season compared to last season has made that harder.”

Tickets are still available for The U's clash with Gillingham and are available online, over the phone by calling 01223 566500 (option 1) or by visiting the Abbey Stadium Ticket Office.

If you can't make Tuesday's clash, Match Passes are available to buy now for just £10. The simplest way to do so is by clicking here and selecting the Gillingham fixture.

Kick off 19:00 (UK)

Visit the Live Match Centre to access form guides, live text commentary and live access to the match on iFollow

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