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Post Cambridge | Paul Hurst

3 February 2024


Post Cambridge | Paul Hurst

3 February 2024

Paul Hurst met with the press following today's narrow defeat against Cambridge United.

Following an excellent performance at Northampton last weekend, Dan Udoh gave Town a flying start at the Croud Meadow with a goal in the 12th minute.

But a brace from Lyle Taylor saw the visitors turn the game on its head. 

Hurst's side had some excellent chances to pull level with Udoh again going close and Chey Dunkley denied by keeper Jack Stevens.

But while they threw bodies forward, they couldn't find that final touch to grab an equaliser.

Speaking to the media post-match, Hurst discussed a host of topics including the performance and a debut for deadline day arrival Jack Hinchy.

On the game:

“I'm frustrated. After getting off to a good start as well.

"The timing of the goals we conceded was really disappointing, we’d got ourselves in front and no one really had time to celebrate before we were back at 1-1.

"Then we came out for the second half and the next minute we’re 2-1 down.

"Against a team like Cambridge, who have a good defensive record and statistically don’t give up many chances, it suddenly becomes a lot more difficult.

“I thought we had some good bits of play, we had some possession but we didn’t really create enough and that’s the challenge.

"I think the way they defend, they defend deep and don’t give you too much space so it was difficult to get in behind them too often.

"We had the odd time. We had a really good bit of play when it ended up with Blocko (Tom Bloxham) putting in a ball and Dan Udoh had a shot where all the fans seemed to be claiming for a corner, but we didn’t get it.

"It looked like Chey [Dunkley] had a decent chance form a corner and it ended up a bit of a scramble and in the keeper’s hands.

"That’s the bit that’s disappointing because it didn’t feel like they did too much to us.

"But probably, from their point of view, they would’ve felt they defended well and did a good away job and they’ve gone away with the points so it’s difficult to argue with that.”

On Dan Udoh’s goal: 

“It was quick, positive, play. In fairness, I don’t think we started the game particularly well. 

“I think we had one attack previously. Marko throws it out and all of a sudden we are up the pitch. 

“It had to be pin-point from Shipperz because of the speed it happened, there was only Dan in there. 

“He makes a great near-post run and finished it really well.” 

On conceding right at the start of the second half: 

“It was the opposite (from Northampton) unfortunately.  

“I’m then looking at body language. It’s new for me that part of it. You arguably learn more about people when things aren’t going the way you want them to. 

“I think when things go well, everyone is happy. Everyone is at their best. 

“It’s a learning experience for me. But I said to the players even before the game, it felt a little bit flatter than I would have expected from having won last week.  

“I don’t know if it was nerves. But we were at home where, in the main, we have had a pretty good record. 

“We didn’t get off to the start I would have liked – albeit we then found ourselves in front.” 

On Tom Bloxham being sent off: 

“I’m not sure about the first booking. I don’t know if it was something that was said or not. I’ll have to check. 

“The second one, I can see that. As disappointing as it is, I can see that second booking because the lad was looking to break. 

“He made a mess in terms of we couldn’t re-start the game because apparently, the player that is sent off has to be up the tunnel and out of vision. 

“If that's the case send him across the pitch (rather than making him walk around the pitch) so he can get the quickest route down the tunnel. 

“I think there are a few things we could say but ultimately, that’s not why we have lost the game. 

“But it was very frustrating at times stood on that touchline because I felt – and I think a lot of the fans felt – that some of the decisions that went against us killed any momentum.  

“It made it scrappy. And at times I was wondering when we would get a decision.” 

On Jack Hinchy making his debut: 

“I wanted to get him involved. He’s a young player. I said before the game, he played on Wednesday night (for Brighton under-21s). 

“It is a hell of a journey as we know. Realistically when we trained on Friday, that would normally be a recovery day for him. 

“I was pleased to get him out there. I think he showed signs of what he can do, passing the ball. 

“But overall, as a team, we have got to understand what state the game is in. When to just put the ball in the box. 

“There were times at the end when we turned that down – as much as we want them to try and pass it. 

“The other thing is to be positive. Yes, pass the ball. But when the opportunity is there, let’s pass forward, let's run forward. 

“Maybe the way Cambridge defended and got men behind the ball, that can make it more difficult. 

“But that is what we have got to try and take forward. 

“We are disappointed today. And we know we have got, on paper, two very difficult fixtures coming up. 

“I would suggest that no games are easy for us anyway. 

“But part of it is a mindset of going there and competing and thinking we can get a result. 

“If we don’t think that in the first place, then we certainly won’t get one.” 

On Aiden O’Brien making his first Town appearance in over a year from the bench: 

“I think he has been very bright in training. 

“I think I’ve said before, he’s very good within the group. He’s an experienced player. 

“A large part of his career has been at this level or above. I know more recently he was in League Two with Sutton. 

“But I can only judge on what I have seen. He brings a bit of personality, a bit of life. 

“And I have to say, in terms of finishing in training, he’s been right up there if not the best. 

“We needed a goal, we needed something different because the game was overly about stretching and running in behind – they were defending deep. 

“He is clever on the ball, his movement is good so that is the reason he got the shout.” 

On Joe Anderson, Nohan, Kenneh, Tunmise Sobowale and Max Mata being left out of the squad: 

“They are tough decisions. The fact is I can’t pick everyone, unfortunately. 

“I think some are circumstances. With Joe, for example, we have got Jason it’s difficult to say I’ll have both involved. I don’t really see that happening at the minute at least. 

“It’s the same with some of the other decisions I have made. It’s not easy. I’ve got very little evidence in terms of training and games. 

“And when the team selected initially did as well as what they did at Northampton, I think it was the right thing to do to give them that opportunity from the off today. 

“I don’t think it was terrible. I think we are playing differently. 

“I heard a few comments from the fans behind us when we kept the ball and went backward to go out the other side. Maybe that is something they haven’t been used to seeing. 

“I’m not saying they liked that, but there is a style we want to play in and when we can go forward I want us to. 

“But it can’t be constant because others what you find is you turn over possession far too much. 

“I think previously – what I’ve watched at least I felt that was one of the issues. We spent far too long without the ball. 

“And that can make it almost inevitable that you get ground down and concede. 

“That is something we are trying to improve on but, obviously, it hasn’t worked today.” 

On the experience being back at the Meadow as Town boss:  

“I’ve spoken quite clearly about how I feel about the club, the opportunity, the chairman, the fans, I’ve had a fantastic time. 

“This is a different time, but walking out, it felt familiar, but I would of course have liked a better result which you’ve just touched on. 

“But with the crowd, I spoke again on Thursday about how I’d like us to give them something to cheer. 

“And then likewise the fans getting behind the players when it’s not going how I would like and how the fans would like. And I felt they did that. 

“Behind the goal and on that far side in particular, which I certainly remember from the last time I was here I think they got behind the lads. 

“I know sometimes it’s not easy whether it’s with the referee, whether it’s with the team, whatever it is – but we’ve got to be in this together. 

“It’s 16 games left, that’s what we’ve got to do in all of those games as much as possible to try and get the results we want.”

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