United 0 Crawley 3

Cambridge United fall to a first League defeat of the 2015/16 season, with a disappointing 0-3 score line against Crawley Town at the Abbey Stadium.

A goal either side of half time from Red Devils striker Rory Deacon and a late effort from Gwion Edwards secured the points for the visitors on a hot and uncomfortable afternoon for the U’s.

The most notable individual not named in Richard Money’s starting line-up was striker Barry Corr, having picked up a knock to the ankle in Tuesday’s away win at AFC Wimbledon. Loan signing Jacob Blyth started in place of Corr after arriving from Leicester City earlier in the week.

The away started the brighter with Gwion Edwards’ marauding run forcing Leon Legge to concede a corner two minutes into the match, which was closely followed by another. The U’s stayed resolute for both but the away side had given United an early glimpse of their attacking capabilities. 

The Red Devils continued their early pressure with Legge once again forced into smart defensive work to block Liam Donnelly’s shot. 

Two breaks up field from Harrison Dunk, the first resulting in the U’s opening effort on goal from Donaldson which drifted wide, had the Abbey Stadium on their feet during the opening ten minutes.

A free kick delivered deep into the United 18 yard box by Simon Walton, was met by Crawley skipper Sonny Bradley’s head on 14 minutes, which Chris Dunn watched creep over his cross bar in front of the Newmarket Road End.

That was shortly followed by a strong penalty claim for Ryan Donaldson when he tore into the box at pace before tumbling to the floor with what looked like a mistimed challenge by Bradley, but referee Nigel Miller was not convinced. 

With 25 minutes on the clock the score remained goalless, with the U’s just struggling slightly to find the same tempo that had proceeded in earlier fixtures as the searing heat began to appear a more impactful factor in the contest.

Crawley’s Rory Deacon came closest of anyone during the opening half an hour, when his dipping effort crashed against the top of Chris Dunn’s cross bar.

On the half hour mark Liam Hughes was subbed on by Manager Richard Money to replace Keith Keane. The best United chance of the half possibly fell to Hughes when a Donaldson corner found him on the edge of the area, where his shot was deflected off Taft but saved by Freddie Woodward.

Donaldson was becoming an increasingly menacing threat in attack for the U’s, three times delivering crosses into the area for Leicester loanee Jacob Blyth, who was not quite able to angle a telling shot to break the deadlock.

In fact it was Mark Yates’ men who would register the opening goal, when Deacon’s shot in a central position slammed into the back of Legge and wrong footed Dunn before hitting the back of the net on 39 minutes.

The away side held on to their lead going into the break, with the U’s much like they had four days earlier needing to turnaround a one goal deficit in the second half.

However, the task became even tougher when Deacon raced past Mark Roberts and placed a shot inside Dunn’s far left post to double the score line just two minutes into the second period.

The U’s skipper came within inches of restoring the half time deficit moments later, but was unable to stretch far enough to tap in Legge’s header from a corner one minute later.

With 35 minutes remaining, the heat seemingly only getting hotter and the scores stuck at 2-0 to the visitors, United introduced Jordan Slew and Danny Carr to the game to add additional fire power, whilst Conor Newton and Mark Roberts departed the field.

Despite the changes the away side continued to frustrate the U’s with only a pair of corners to show for their efforts. A 30-yard strike from Matt Harrold had Chris Dunn stretching to his left on 65 minutes but the ball whistled wide, which was followed five minutes later by a counter attacking move where substitute Bobson Bawling hit the side netting.

Jacob Blyth rose well on 77 minutes, when Danny Carr delivered a whipping cross, which the 23-year old drifted wide of Woodward’s target. The U’s were then handed a lifeline with ten minutes to play, when Liam Donnelly charged out of the wall too early despite repeated warning from the referee and was sent off for a second yellow card.

Mark Yates’ men put the game to bed however, when Rory Deacon’s shot was parried into the path of Gwion Edwards to complete a frustrating afternoon for United.

Cambridge United: Dunn, Omozusi, Keane (L.Hughes, 30 mins), Roberts (Slew, 56 mins), Legge, Donaldson, Berry, Dunk, Blyth, Taft, Newton (Carr, 56 mins)

Crawley Town: Woodward, Scales, Walton, McNerny, Bradley, Edwards, Young (Bawling, 67 mins), Ashton, Harrold, Deacon (Lee Barnard, 76 mins), Donnelly

Attendance: 5,459