Mark Bonner faced local media on Thursday morning ahead of United's clash with Burton Albion (12 February)...
On the FA Youth Cup:
“Real credit to Tom Pell and Jimmy Unwin, and everyone that works with those players, I thought the boys were excellent last night and were unlucky not to win the game in ninety minutes.
“We played some good football and had some good chances. It’s obviously a disappointing way to go out, especially in a game where you probably had the best of it and were the better team. It’s frustrating for them in that sense, but they've had some good experiences along the way. They played really well and we are really proud of them.
“It was really exciting to see nearly 1,000 people at the Abbey on Wednesday night. I spent some time after the game with Josh Coulson, Harry Darling and some of the ex-scholars that I used to coach.
“Quite a lot of the first team boys came to the game. It was a really good night and good when you get everybody back together and you realise the connections that people build with the club over the years.”
On fixture pile-up:
“We have a blank week next week which helps. We have become very reliant on the same group of players as there’s not been too many options in the squad in recent weeks which hasn’t been helped by a couple of injuries in costly areas as a result of our hectic January schedule.
“Any team that loses really integral players, it's obviously going to be a challenge, we know that but we have to adjust and deal with that, and continue to be the best we can. I've always thought this fortnight would be a really challenging one because of that.
“This will be our 12th game in 40 days on Saturday and that is an incredible number of games that we’re constantly asking the same players to play in.
“This is the grind of the season we have now. In the last ten league games we have won four, drawn two and lost four, and if we did that again in the next 10 we would be fairly satisfied.
“We’re probably a point ahead of where we want to be at the moment, so you can always look at games and think I wish you done better or might have won that one.
“The Gillingham game felt like a right kick in the teeth because you play okay, in a fairly competitive game, and then lose the game late on like we did was really frustrating in that sense as we had a lot of the ball and probably didn't do quite enough to create enough chances, but we had a couple of good ones and we ended up losing the game late on, but we went to Lincoln and got peppered in the first half but we ended up winning that game late on.”
“They’ve had a fairly productive January, a few senior players have moved on, they had a massive squad so I think they’ve had to try and trim that a little bit, but they’ve added a little bit too.
“The use a different formation from when we last played them. They deployed a back four earlier in the season however have since switched to a back three now. They’ve had a couple of disappointing results, but in the main, they'll be delighted with where they are – similar to us really, I think.
“They’re pretty much level with where we are in the table at the moment and you look at the middle of the table and you say ourselves, Burton, Accrington and Portsmouth, we’re all in a really similar spot and over the next two games we play Burton and Accrington, which gives us a great opportunity to see if we can wrestle around with them in the middle of the table.
“That's got to be our intention. Try and come out with a good points return and see if we can stick around the positions that we are. I think it's great that we're in that situation.
“I guess for us, Burton are a similar model, in the sense that they are a smaller club with smaller resource and have shown an ability to be competitive in the top half of the table quite regularly.”