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Interviews

Mark Bonner Previews Charlton Clash

18 April 2022

Prior to Cambridge United’s penultimate Abbey Stadium outing of the season, head coach Mark Bonner sat down with local media…

On Saturday’s win at the DW Stadium…

“One of our best results of the season, the footballer was excellent and obviously it was a brilliant result – one because of the context; the fact it was against a team chasing the title and promotion – but secondly, all things considered, with it being live on the telly at a different kick-off time for us than usual, the boys were brilliant.

“The first half we were exceptional and deserving of the lead at half-time, we might have been one better off before the break, but second half was as we expected it to be, chasing the game became difficult, and it took a brilliant save from Dimi in the end to secure the win.

“If they had of scored that goal, I think we would have felt incredibly hard done by to leave with a point because the performance was excellent, and it took all that time until Dimi had to make a meaningful save.

“It’s another sign of the progress that we're making, and another result we must be proud of given the list of away days and away results that that we’ve had that have been really significant this season.

“We've had some tough days away, but I think we've shown that we learn from them.

“I think importantly, because it was on the telly, a lot of the supporters who don’t usually get to go to away games would have got to see it, so it was important to me and the team that we reflected ourselves in the best light we could have.”

On aiming for a top half finish…

“It certainly looks nicer, and of course it’s what we want, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter too much if we don't finish there. I think our target has to be ‘can we win the race for 12?’ and I know in lot of people’s eyes, it doesn't really matter, and in some respects, I guess it doesn't.

“We'd be lying if we said we didn't fancy the prospect of finishing in the top half, and we didn't want to try and secure that spot. We certainly do. This is a league of two leagues, we’ve spoken for hours on that, so we want to try and stay in the top half if we can and Tuesday is a good motivator for doing that.

“I think we just want to finish well, we've got two home games that we want to continue our good record in, we’ve been excellent at the Abbey since the turn of the year. We've then got a brilliant occasion to go to next Saturday at Sunderland in the penultimate game of the season.

“I think those games themselves give us a nice challenge, but also that 12th place finish gives us another layer to that motivation, so we will take anything to keep us hitting these levels.”

On Tuesday’s opponents Charlton…

“They’re a good side; I think we saw that earlier in the season. It was Johnny's last game as caretaker manager I think.

“HMS Ironside made its way to the Valley that day! We had, I thought one of our best performances of the season that afternoon, despite losing 2-0, but we were outstanding and shouldn't have been on the losing side.

“Their squad depth, their size, their history, their resources, they are a top team and they've got some excellent players that would get into a lot of League One sides. We know how tough that makes the game on Tuesday.

“We've got to try and hit a similar level to the last time in terms of performance, but also then try and make sure we come out with something from the game.”

Team news…

“Saturday was a real grind, physically. It was slightly later kick-off and a late finish for us. So the turnaround time is a little bit less than normal. The emotional and physical energy of that game too took its toll, on a hot day.

“All those things do take their toll and we also have to remember that that was game number 56 or 57 of the season for a lot of players, so it's been quite a brutal run that we've been on.

“We will make as many as we can, we need a freshness about ourselves as we know we have two big games coming up. We need to make sure we use the whole squad throughout the week.

“Everyone who was available at the weekend is fit and ready to go on Tuesday.

“Sam Sherring has a specialist appointment on Tuesday so we’ll see where he is after that and whether he can contribute anymore to this season.

“Harrison Dunk took a whack on his shin in the last moments of last Thursday’s training, so he had to go and get stitches on that.

“Wes will come back into the side tomorrow and I know he’s looking forward to that.”

On Jack Iredale…

“Jack Iredale has had an excellent season and there's been contracts on the table for months for him. We haven't heard back on them, so we are obviously not quite expecting anything to happen there, to be honest.

“The one thing we didn’t want was this dragging on for months and months. I'm sure when the season ends we will get an answer from them once they've worked out where they going next.

“Jack will play a big part in the remaining games of the season and it's still possible that he signs it what's on offer from us.”


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