Bonner hails bench after Exeter comeback

“The game ended with all the drama you’d expect, but we’ve managed to see it out…”

A week is a long time in football. After suffering heartbreak at the death seven days earlier, Cambridge United performed late heroics of their own to down Exeter City. Unsurprisingly, Mark Bonner was ecstatic.

You can’t beat a winner at the death, particularly not “when it’s yours” added the Head Coach. “It’s certainly a different feeling this week to last week – we’ve experienced both ends of it in two games.

“We were good in the second half, I thought we played with miles more intent with two really good goals so I’m delighted to win the game.”

Bonner praised the 100% home record and how it drills momentum into the group heading into another busy period with back-to-back trips.

“That’s three home games we’ve had and to win them all is important. With a busy, busy week and two away games, if you can start those seven days with a win it sort of gives you a cushion going into it so it’s an excellent result for us.

The U’s bouncebackability has been tested numerous times in Bonner’s reign - this was another test of that this afternoon in what was very much a game of two halves. The comeback pleased the gaffer.

“We really struggled to defend against their front two in the first half, struggled to find that intensity we needed to compete with their energy and momentum. We had to sort ourselves out a little bit at half-time but I’m pleased with the lads for the response.

“We almost played the Oxford game rather than this game. It’s about 400 degrees beating down on that pitch but, to be fair, they’ve come through that really well in what is a really tricky day.

“This performance got better as the game went on and we’ve took the maximum points which, understandably, is the main thing,” he said. Heading into the midweek clash at Portsmouth, it gives his men “confidence and freedom really, you don’t go into that game under pressure.”

What was notable on the sweltering afternoon was the importance, and the crucial impact, United’s substitutions were.

“I think we’ve got a decent squad, a decent bench with good options.

“I said to Jack (Lankester) before he came on at 1-1, ‘this is going to be a battle of the number tens. It’s going to be you or Jevani (Brown) that wins the game,’ and it was him that won it for us with a brilliant bit of play.

“We’ve got to have that impact from the bench. They’ll always be disappointed if they’re not starting, but their responsibility and their job is to, when they come on the pitch, make a difference, whether that’s to see out a result or chase a game. They did that brilliantly today.”

Four games down and three wins to show for their endeavour. Should United require freshness in the coming weeks, this victory was an indicator many will be waiting in the wings, ready to fly. As far as morale goes, the mood in the camp is sky-high.