U's answer boss Parkinson's plea

“WHEN the pressure was on, we handled it!” These were the triumphant words of manager Phil Parkinson after witnessing his team's historic promotion to the Championship.

By Carl Marston

“WHEN the pressure was on, we handled it!”

These were the triumphant words of manager Phil Parkinson after witnessing his team's historic promotion to the Championship.

The U's grabbed the point that they required at Yeovil on Saturday, to ensure their rise to the second tier of the Football League for the first time in their 69-year history as a professional club, a terrific achievement.

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“It's easy to play mid-table, and it's easy to play in mid-season, but we have done it when the pressure has been on,” explained a jubilant Parkinson, with a glass of champagne in hand.

“Plenty of teams have got into this position before this season, without being able to finish the job. But we have managed it.

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“With six games to go, we knew what we had to do. We've ended up winning four and drawing two. It's been an incredible achievement.

“We are going to savour every moment. To get this club into the Championship is fantastic.

“All the people in the offices at Layer Road have worked beyond the call of duty to make this happen.

“There's been a lot of hard work along the way, going on the road to watch players and then recruiting them. Nothing ever comes to you; you have to work at it,” added Parkinson.

In addition to clinching promotion to the Championship, the U's also had lucrative runs in the FA Cup and LDV Vans Trophy this season.

United's once-in-a-lifetime trip to Chelsea, for the fifth round of the FA Cup, attracted all the publicity, under the glare of the television cameras, although it nearly cost the U's promotion - they had a lean spell of five league games without a goal, and just one point, during all the hype of the FA Cup.

“I wouldn't have swapped the Chelsea experience for anything, but I think that it cost us the championship title,” admitted Parkinson.

The U's finished three points behind champions Southend.

“We suffered a blip in form after the Chelsea match, and the players were mentally exhausted.

“But we showed terrific resilience to come through this. That's something that will stay with these players throughout their careers.

“I said to the lads before the game - “go out and make history.” In 30 years time, people will still be talking about the young players in this team, names like Greg Halford, John White and Dean Gerken.

“To me, that means more than the money, it's what drives me on. It's an incredible feeling, to know that this team will be talked about in years to come.

“It was always going to be a nervy afternoon, but we got there in the end. I didn't think we were as positive as we could be in the first-half, but we played most of the second-half in their half.

“It's difficult to answer what the future holds. For the club to progress, we need a new stadium, and that's further ahead than it's ever been.

“We have the population in the town to support the club, so we need the new stadium quickly,” added Parkinson.

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