Rejoice! The Old United are back! Well… almost, as there’s still the little matter of us seemingly not being able to score but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Joe Ironside was the main casualty in the starting eleven, making way for Sam Shhhmith to lead the line, behind him were Harvey Knibbs and Jack Lankester both taking a chance at holding down the number 10 berth, with James Brophy out on the left. In the middle Ben Worman got another chance to stake his claim to being Paul Digby’s midfield partner, and in defence Jubril Okedina made way for Zeno Ibsen Rossi, other than that it’s as you were.
United got off to a great start against the league leaders (they started the day in the top spot, but Ipswich beating P*sh in the early kick-off saw them drop to second by 3pm), getting forward and creating chances, and looking like a completely different side to the one who haven’t won at the Abbey in months.
Jack Lankester moved across, swapping places with Knibbs to make the 10 his own, and Knibbs himself played well out on the wing – causing no end of trouble for Plymouths robust defence. Lankester put in the kind of performance we’ve been waiting a while to see, whilst Paul Digby looked back to his best behind them. Up top, Smith took his duties seriously, putting in the kind of shift we’ve not seen for a while, and thumping his badge towards the crowd. A cynical (or genuine?) act of forgiveness, or a realisation that no one is gonna take a January punt on a striker who isn’t making any chances? The truth, as always lies somewhere between the two.
At the back Zeno Ibsen Rossi showed a composure we haven’t really seen from him this season putting in his best game in the Amber & Black and performing that ball-carrying role alongside Jones nicely. Dunk was class all game, and Williams faultless too. We haven’t mentioned Mannion who had a quiet game, and Brophy didn’t do much wrong either. That just leaves Ben Worman to be mentioned, and the youngster had another good game, showing why he’s moving ahead of Lewis Simper in the pecking order at the moment.
That’s not to say everything was amazing – for all our chances we didn’t manage to put any away, Knibbs, Dunk and Smith all having opportunities to give United the lead, but on the whole we played well against a tough opposition who didn’t make it easy for us. On another day we could have won by a couple, but Plymouth were no pushovers and could have equally have scored a couple themselves.
If anything shows why the board haven’t sacked Mark Bonner (and if I’m honest, I doubt they gave it any serious consideration in the first place) then it’s a game like this. We’ve seen United players in the past down tools and not play for a manager, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here. We’re in a sticky spot right now, no doubt, but play like we did on Saturday and I’ve no doubt we’ll stay up, even if it’s just by the skin of our teeth.
Onwards and upwards, Mark Bonner’s Amber Army.
Man of the Match: Pretty much any of them have a good shout, but we’ll single out Lankester and Rossi for particular praise, both of them having some of their best games in the shirt.
Soundtrack of the Match: Oasis – It’s Getting Better, Man
Surprised Bonner’s talking about strengthening in January. I honestly don’t think we need to. If we can just get o’Neil back fit and have a little bit of better luck, I think we’ll be fine with what we have and we’ll finish mid table comfortably again.
Don’t see anyone we could get with the budget we have who could improve us