Calmed down yet? My cat has decided it’s safe to finally return home after being spooked out of the house as I leapt up screaming ‘FUCK YES YES YES YES’ at the top of my voice for about twenty minutes on Saturday evening, destroying his peaceful slumber.
There’s nothing better in football than a last minute winner is there? Well maybe a completely undeserved last minute winner in a game where you’d been second best for long periods. We’re not going to gloss over this, during the first half at least, United looked dreadful, offered nothing going forward and were second to every ball. If any one of Walsall’s front three had even the slightest idea of where the goal was we’d have been dead and buried long before half time.
The second half saw little improvement from United, but not much. A few half-chances here and there, and things didn’t really improve until Bonner made his customary late substitution, Liam O’Neil coming off for Shilow Tracey on 77 minutes. One on hand you have to applaud Bonner’s belief in his team and in his tactics, but on the other hand (and this is an accusation we’ve levelled at him a few times throughout the season) sometimes you can just see when something’s not working, and 15-20 minutes isn’t enough to turn it around.
But you know what, in the grand scheme of things, none of this really matters. It doesn’t matter that Bonner didn’t make any changes until late on in the game. It doesn’t matter that we were pretty rubbish. It doesn’t matter that Callum Burton kept us in the game with a couple of important saves. All that matters is that, at the end of the day the result read: Cambridge United 1 Walsall 0 and that it’s another three points for the U’s.
It’s all starting to get quite serious now isn’t it? At the start of the season we all said we’d be happy with mid-table, or simply comfortably surviving, but after seeing this team and seeing what it can do, seeing the belief Bonner has instilled in this squad anything less than promotion is going to be a huge disappointment. The important thing is that our destiny is in our hands. They always say the sign of a good team is one that gets a result when they play badly. But eventually bad performances catch up with you. If we are to get promotion this season we simply can’t put in too many more performances like we did on Saturday, whatever the result.
I’m sorry if you was expecting a gushing review of a great win, but we can’t get carried away. The reality is a team with decent strikers would have battered us on Saturday. Yes we got three points, and yes we should celebrate that, but we need to recognise that we weren’t at our best on against Walsall. We’re in the thick of a punishing schedule but after Bolton we don’t have a mid-week game until Easter whilst a lot of our rivals play catch-up. Some of them might get the results they need and we might drop a place or two in the table, but that doesn’t matter. Keep doing what we’ve done most of the season and the results will come. Let’s get this game against Bolton and Saturday’s game against Oldham out the way and see where we are then. Knowing Mark Bonner though, I think we’ll still be in with a shout.
Man of the Match: The obvious choice would be to give it to Paul Mullin, that last minute rocket of a shot securing three massive points against all odds. We’re going to go for Callum Burton though – he doesn’t always get the easiest ride from us, but that’s 4 clean sheets in 6 now, and some big saves to keep us in it on Saturday. Declan Drysdale and Greg Taylor both deserve credit for that too.
Soundtrack of the Match: Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers – Get Lucky
United: Burton, Knoyle, Drysdale, Taylor, Dunk, O’Neil (Tracey), May, Boateng, Hoolahan, Mullin, Ironside