“I’m not saying we deserved to win the game, but I’m 100% certain we didn’t deserve to lose it…”
Mark Bonner was dejected after his U’s side travelled home from Oxford United empty-handed after yet another committed performance.
“We were definitely value for a point. I’ve just said to the players - 126 games I’ve been their coach and that’s the most unjust result we’ve taken part in.
“We’ve come to a promotion-chasing side who have really good control of certain parts of the game, moved the ball brilliantly at times. We need to be a bit more clinical in our final part, but some of our play was outstanding. When the hurt of defeat settles, we’ll take so much from it.”
In what frankly is the nastiest way to lose a football match, the Head Coach deemed it critical to examine the positives as he admired some of his side’s play.
“We kept what is usually a rocking atmosphere pretty quiet for large, large periods. We did exactly what we tried to do, kept it silent and had control with and without the ball. I don’t think we deserved to be on the losing side.
“You can talk about solid and organised and defensive shape, let’s talk about how good we were with the ball – we were brilliant. You can come away and cling on to a 0-0 result, but that wouldn’t have been the case today. It would have been a fair result.”
Whilst the freedom was slightly depleted in the second half as opposed to the first 45, Mark affirmed that he’s seen enough from his squad to know there’s a strong foundation to build on.
“Other than a few set-plays towards the end, we didn’t have too many moments of real danger to defend. We didn’t carry as much quality in the second half as we did the first, but you can’t dominate the whole game.
“What I do think with the level of performance is, if we hit that level more often than not, we’re in for a good season.”
The bitter pill is one United will swallow and undoubtedly learn from. In the grand scheme of things, the 2022/23 campaign is very much in its early stages – with matches, comes lessons. Week by week, the U’s will gradually steer closer to matching the ambitions laid out.
“We want to try and be the best counter-attacking team in the league if we can.
“From the balance of play today, we’re on the way to becoming a decent side. And if we’re like that after six weeks, I can’t wait to see what we’re like after 18.”