Cambridge United romped home to a 4-0 victory in Carlisle in one of the standout performances of the season…
After taking a 1-0 lead into the half-time break thanks to Sullay Kaikai’s opener, the goals began to flow in the second half as Kachunga and Ryan Bennett got in on the act.
The result moves the U’s six points above the relegation zone ahead of a big week back at the Cledara Abbey as Bolton and Peterborough come to town.
Neil Harris named two changes from the side that lost at Portsmouth on Tuesday evening, as Elias Kachunga and Paul Digby returned to the starting XI in place of James Brophy and Jordan Cousins.
Donning their all-white away kit for the first time since Boxing Day, the U’s were up against it during the early goings. Seeing their side make a positive start to proceedings, the home fans got right behind their team and made it a difficult start to the match for United.
The first big chance came five minutes in as Josh Vela was played in-behind the United defence. Looking like he was through on goal and about to hit the net, Thomas came running back just in the nick of time to make a crucial challenge that had the home crowd baying for a penalty, to no avail.
The U’s began to settle though and by 15 minutes played, had a foot-hold in the match and scored with their first sight of goal, as an incisive move between Gibbons, Taylor, Lankester and Kaikai lead to the latter receiving the ball on the left edge of the box, before cutting inside and firing into the bottom corner.
The lead was almost doubled on 22 minutes, as the impressive Gibbons – making just his second start for the Club – whipped in a near-post cross for Taylor to attack, but his flick towards goal went straight at Lewis in goal and deflected behind for a goalkick.
United were finding joy by seeking out Kaikai on the left and it looked as though there were strong grounds for a penalty when he received it in a similar position to when he scored, but this time appeared to be tripped by a flailing leg, only for the referee to wave play on.
With confidence high, Neil Harris’ men were pushing hard for a second goal and did everything they could to get one before the break. Kaikai and Gibbons both had shots blocked on the half hour mark before Andrew sent a sensational free-kick effort narrowly wide of the top corner.
The final 15 minutes of the half went largely without incident, as United aimed to get through to the break with a one goal advantage, which they duly managed without much of a scare.
Just like the start of the first half, the home side began the second in command and looking threatening. Once again, the U’s had to weather the storm – literal and physical as the rain teemed down from the sky – before getting back into their groove.
With the Cumbrians desperate to get back into the match, space was left for the counter for United to attack into, and on 55 minutes Lankester had the opportunity to pick out a teammate as he took the ball forward into the box, but his pass was cut-out at the near-post as Carlisle kept it at just the one goal.
Chances came and went – Taylor’s flying header over the bar from close range and the U’s were almost made to pay when Armer was found in acres of space down the left, but his cross/shot was beaten behind by Stevens for a corner.
Neil Harris soon turned to the bench as he introduced James Brophy to proceedings, in place of Jack Lankester and two minutes later, United’s lead was finally doubled. Kaikai’s cross had the Carlisle defenders in a pickle and the unfortunate Lavelle couldn’t help but turn it into his own net.
Things got even better a minute later, as Taylor crossed for his strike partner, Kachunga, to head home from point blank range and wrap up all three points for the U’s.
Bonne, Cousins and May were soon brought on for Taylor, Kachunga and Thomas, and the scoring didn’t relent, as Ryan Bennett added a fourth - his first for the Club - on 84 minutes, as he beat his man in the air before heading under Lewis, to send the 442 away fans into raptures.
A tremendous response to consecutive defeats for United, who got back to winning ways in the most convincing way possible ahead of two home games next week.