Sam Smith’s late equaliser secured a more than deserved point against Stevenage, as the U’s extended their unbeaten run in Sky Bet League Two to three games with a 1-1 draw at the Lamex Stadium.
The hosts took the lead inside ten minutes through Jason Cowley, but a persistent second half display in which United continued to bang on the Stevenage door throughout eventually led to Sam Smith’s leveller eight minutes from time.
United lined up with two changes as Luke Hannant returned from injury to move into the left wing back position, and George Maris stepped into the starting eleven in place of Paul Lewis.
Dimitar Mitov was called into action inside the first minute of the match and produced an important stop at his near post to deny Jason Cowley with a shot from inside the United area, after the Stevenage man had wriggled free of any U’s tackler a little too easily.
The U’s didn’t heed the early warning from the hosts though and were behind seven minutes later, when Elliott List’s shot took a deflection off Cowley inside the six yard box, which angled the ball over the helpless Mitov and into the roof of United’s net.
United continued to look a little lacklustre through the opening quarter of the match and even when they managed to find the back of the Stevenage net on 22 minutes, the flag was raised for an offside against Marc Richards.
Calderwood’s men gathered momentum moving into the half an hour mark though, with George Maris testing Paul Farman in the Stevenage goal with a delicate curling shot towards the bottom corner. Jack Roles also threatened moments later, as the Spurs loanee charged onto a loose ball in the Stevenage area, chested it down but got a too much on his half volley over the bar.
Having taken a while to get going, United actually went down the tunnel at the break still trailing to the early Stevenage goal but having created the more openings on goal, with Elliott Ward seeing a late shot blocked in a packed 18 yard box as the hosts defended a series of U’s corners in stoppage time.
The U’s were quick out of the blocks after the break and looked to have levelled through Marc Richards who directed an excellent Maris delivery over the goal line, only for the offside flag to deny the striker for a second occasion.
Jason Cowley rolled away from a U’s tackle at the other end minutes later and let fire on a shot from 20 yards that was not far wide of Mitov’s far post, as the Bulgarian stood to attention. Cowley then tore through United with a pacey run ten minutes after the break, but was denied a clean shot on goal with excellent recovery defending by Taylor and then Taft.
United were within a lick of paint of levelling on the hour, as Taft rose highest loop a header from Luke Hannan’t free kick delivery over Farman but against the Stevenage cross bar.
It was Hannant who continued to be the U’s biggest threat and was within whiskers when his attempt from mid-range deflected off a Stevenage defender and dropped just wide with Farman well beaten.
Lewis and Lambe were introduced in place of Taylor and Roles, as Colin Calderwood injected fresh impetus to craft a way back into the game.
Marc Richards missed a big opportunity at the back post, when Sam Smith’s cross travelled through Stevenage bodies to his strike partner but he was unable to angle a volley on target. Paul Lewis too was unfortunate not to be on the scoresheet when the midfielder swivelled and shot from eight yards out, beating Farman but not the foot of the post.
George Maris stuck a vicious shot from 25 yards which swerved and dipped but was watched closely enough by Farman for the shot stopper to palm away.
However, the U’s persistence finally told eight minutes from time when Sam Smith buried Harrison Dunk’s cross from the left with a sweet half volley from ten yards to lift the roof off the away end at the Lamex Stadium.
United went for the three points in the remaining minutes but after ReggieLambe stabbed a shot wide of the mark, Farman produced the save of the day with an excellent stop low to his right to deny Marc Richards a stoppage time winner as the U’s had to settle for a point.
Stevenage: Farman, James-Wildin (Iontton, 30 min), Stokes (Kennedy, 74 mins), Cuthbert, Carter, Cowley, Husin, Guthrie, Nugent, List (Watts, 65 mins), Timlin
Bookings: Timlin, Farman
Cambridge United: Mitov, Knoyle, Taft, Ward, Taylor (Lewis, 62 mins), Hannant, O’Neil (Dunk, 77 mins), Maris, Roles (Lambe, 62 mins), Smith, Richards