Barrow 0-2 U’s: Mullin Back In Business.

[Ext.] A 1970’s Office Block Behind Barrow’s Goal

Fades to a scene set inside an office. Two men, David BRENT & Paul MULLIN sit at opposite sides of a desk.

BRENT: Look, whether or not it’s a header, or a shot…

MULLIN: It’s a shot

BRENT: What’s the difference?

MULLIN: Well, a header is a shot that’s on target but using your head

BRENT: Oh yeah (mimics heading the ball)

MULLIN: And a shot is… (conversation interrupted by MULLIN thumping a football into the back of the net)

Paul Mullin finally broke his short goal drought on Saturday with a close range finish aided by a Wes Hoolahan cross and some comedy defending. Header, shot, penalty, they all count and Mullin will be pleased to be back on track.

To just concentrate on Mullin though would be to do the rest of the team a disservice. With some mind-games from Bonner on the teamsheet (Greg, in midfield again?) and new boy Declan Drysdale pressed into a centre mid role none of us knew he could play, United calmly exerted control on a game that never looked in doubt.

In defence, Greg Taylor was excellent once again. We’ve said some things about Greg on the pod that were perhaps a little unfair in the past, but he’s been an absolute rock at the heart of our defence this season. Alongside him Jubril Okedina looked like a man with plenty of games under his belt, with incredible composure on the ball and a knack of being in the right place at the right time. To think this is only his second League start. Knoyle and Dunk were their usual excellent selves – should Knoyle end up leaving in the summer we’d be surprised if it’s anywhere below the Championship. We used to call him the League Two Trent Alexander Arnold, but on recent form it’s the Liverpool man who should be looking up to our Kyle. Dunk on the other hand seems to get better with age – he’s now in our top 10 all time appearance makers, and we hope he has many more to come. Between the sticks, Burton had little to do, but what he did do, he did well.

Midfield saw Paul Digby fail a late fitness test, so Declan Drysdale made his U’s debut alongside Adam May. Drysdale might be a bit ‘old-skool’ in some of his tackling, but nothing got past him yesterday and he was everywhere. Adam May alongside him is a player that’s improved in leaps and bounds over the past few months, and was unlucky not to have added to his goal tally yesterday. Luke Hannant had his best game in ages, and there simply aren’t enough words to describe Wes Hoolahan. Magnificent, exemplary and far too good for this league are the ones that come to mind.

Then we get to the strikers. Mullin and Ironside are, quite simply, the best striking partnership we’ve had at this club since Kitson and Youngs. Okay, it’s unlikely either of them will go on to the level big Dave did, but their goal return this season speaks for itself.

That was, in a way, the perfect away performance. United controlled the game from the off, sticking to their game plan even if it took 43 minutes to get that first goal, never panicking when things didn’t come off.

As much as the credit goes to those on the pitch, it should also go to Mark Bonner and Gary Waddock for the way they’ve got the lads playing. More importantly, Bonner set us up to win that game. In the past we’ve accused him of showing too much respect to teams, setting up in a negative fashion to secure a point away from home, or deferring to so called ‘bigger’ clubs. Barrow are a minnow, the kind of team that should get rolled over every week, and Bonner set us up to do that. The scoreline might not have reflected a thrashing, but the performance as a whole meant the result was never in doubt. It’s still too early to be talking about automatic promotion as a given, but this team absolutely deserve to be part of that conversation, and if we carry on picking up points, then there’s no reason why this team can’t go down in history alongside Money & McFarland’s sides, Beck’s great team or Ron Atkinson’s 70’s heroes.

Man of the Match: The impossible task. Knoyle, Taylor, Drysdale, Hoolahan all excellent. Mullin, Okedina, Dunk, May all deserving of a shout out too. We can’t pick between them.

Soundtrack of the Match: The Clash – Complete Control (we apologise in advance if you get an advert featuring gammon shithead Nigel Farage before this video plays)

United: Burton, Knoyle, Okedina, Taylor, Dunk, Hannant (Tracey), May (O’Neil), Drysdale, Hoolahan (Iredale), Mullin (Knibbs), Ironside

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