“We’ve got the best squad I’ve had since I’ve become manager..."
Mark Bonner was thrilled that his side registered points towards their Sky Bet League One pursuit at the first attempt as they ground out a 1-0 victory over MK Dons.
“Any win you get on day one is obviously important, even any win against MK is a good one because they’re a great side. Performance-wise, we’ll get better, but we’ll take the result all day long. It’s an important three points and we’ll take confidence from this.”
What was particularly pleasing was the manner in which the U’s carved out the rest of the first-half after Harvey Knibbs’ sumptuous run and finish left the visitors shellshocked. Particularly considering Liam Manning’s side were agonisingly close to taking the lead within the opening minute.
“We were good first-half. We got a little deeper in the final ten minutes to protect the lead, which can happen, but we played some excellent football.
“After the first 30 seconds, we were really nervy but once we got going we brought lots of control to the game and showcased a threat.”
The Head Coach was quick to praise his matchwinner, who’s relishing his new role working his socks off and tucking in behind Joe Ironside.
“A brilliantly taken goal, he’s in good form at the moment – had a great pre-season and is looking sharp. I’m delighted with his finish and performance overall.”
Despite a lack of dazzling moments in the final third for each side after the break, the grit on display was a pleasing characteristic and one to implement going forwards in the campaign.
“It felt like we never had any control or territory in the second-half, but this can happen when you play a team who make the pitch so big and put so many attacking players into the frontline. In the end, we’ve gained a brilliant result and despite having hardly any of the ball throughout, the goal wasn’t under huge threat. We’re relieved, but we know we’ll have to get better.
“A win, clean sheet, it ticks every box really. We’re all thrilled with the outcome. We’ve got a good base now, we go to a tough team next Saturday (Oxford United), but we go there with points on the board which is really important for us.
“We want to try and develop as a team and evolve, we’ll take wins where they come but we’re always pushing the ceiling and saying ‘come on, what’s the next stage for us?’ That’s the challenge we’ve got.”
Football is back, the U’s are back. As far as opening days go, it doesn’t get much better than that.