Cambridge United manager Mark Bonner was frustrated with his side’s failure to convert their chances during tonight’s 1-1 home draw against Morecambe.
The U’s had 24 tries – eight on goal – at the Abbey Stadium, but all they had to show was Jack Lancaster’s opening goal in the 14th minute.
The visitors pinned United just before the break and held out through the second half to secure a share of the spoils, thus ensuring Bonner’s men could cut the deficit with Sky Bet League One safety to just four points.
“It was great we didn’t win in the first half, to be honest,” said the chief. “We have to start taking advantage when we are at the top of the game. In the first half of the match we were really sparkling and creative and had enough chances to add a second (goal).
“Then we gave them a goal at the end of the first half when the game was over. It’s a giveaway in the middle of the field that they break and then deflect – it’s really awful. And then they almost got a second off our set game.
“Let’s say politely that we were kicking ourselves at half-time and that we weren’t leading in the game because we definitely should have been. That made it difficult and maybe knocked us a little bit further in the second half.
“For the first 15 or 20 minutes of the second half I thought we were really miserable and didn’t have a lot of control or a lot of quality in what we did.
“Then after that we had some good moments. I thought we gave up some of our attacks too soon, shooting when there was an extra pass in motion and lacking a little bit of dynamic play around the penalty area at times.
“Then there are a few moments where we are not in a position to score extra points when we put some great shipments in the box.
“We definitely pushed the game and tried to get something out of it, but it’s a better point for them than us.”
It’s a very familiar feeling lately for Bonner, who has seen his side struggle to score goals for large parts of the campaign.
They’ve found the back of the net on just 27 occasions, a joint-division low with Forest Green Rovers bottom of the table.
He added: “Go back to the defeat at Shrewsbury (on the 21st January, losing 5-1), and since then we’ve missed the mark in terms of performance only twice.
“Lincoln, Ipswich – games we can win. First half against Cheltenham, we can win that game. We have to win in Fleetwood, (but) neither score nor take our chances there. Tonight is a must-win game and there are a lot of those. Even On the weekend against Portsmouth it’s a game we must win or take something from for sure.
“In that group of games alone, we’re falling a little bit further from where we need to be and where I think our level of performance is worth.
“When we’re in our position, playing well and controlling doesn’t give you confidence unless you turn and take those moments.
“We prepared well and played with real good intention but we lack confidence at the top end of the field and don’t convert into the goals that football deserves at the moment.”
Looking back at Saturday’s game against another of their fellow strugglers – the MK Dons – Bonner calls on his players to continue believing their fortunes in front of goal will turn around.
“Keep training, keep working, keep trying to keep the guys believing that,” he said.
“You have to believe that if you create a lot of chances, you will score a few.
“Other than saying our prayers, the best thing we can do is keep practicing and use the time on the training ground to try to improve and give the players some faith and some confidence.
And see if we can turn a point tonight into a three point on Saturday. Anytime that happens, I hope that breathes a little oxygen and life into us.
“The lads are trying really hard. They undress, they give a lot of what we ask of them but we didn’t tick the last box at the top end of the field – it was a good level of play.”
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