Cambridge United put in a gritty performance to secure a 2-1 win over Newport County in a feisty Sky Bet League Two encounter at a rain-soaked Abbey Stadium.
A brace from Paul Mullin, with a goal in both halves raced the U’s into a healthy lead. And despite an instant consolation from Scott Twine, United held out firm for the three points to maintain their unbeaten run at home this season, sending them to second in the process.
Mark Bonner, Sky Bet League Two’s manager of the month for September, made two changes from the United side which fell to defeat at Exeter City last weekend with Harry Darling and Jack Iredale coming in at the expense of Robbie Cundy and Joe Ironside. Hiram Boateng, who joined the U’s on loan on Friday, and was named on the bench.
Donning their 50th anniversary shirt for the first time, lone striker Mullin registered the host’s first shot of the game on the ninth minute, his strike from distance comfortably being handled by Nick Townsend.
A well-executed header from Padraig Amond on the 15th minute went whiskers wide of creeping in the far post, the Exiles had proved a threat going forwards in the early stages.
Moments later, a burst of pace and power from Mullin beat Mickey Demtriou inside the box, he teed it to Luke Hannant whose shot was well blocked.
Joss Labadie had a glorious chance from 12 yards on the 23rd minute, but put too much on it as it blazed way over the crossbar.
The U’s had the ball in the back of the net on 25 through Harry Darling, but was correctly ruled offside after what was an exquisite ball from Hannant.
As the rain continued to lash down on the Abbey turf, Wes Hoolahan engineered a pass which was on a plate to Mullin. The striker succeeded in taking it past Townsend, but by the time he could pull the trigger the goalkeeper was there to deny him just after the half hour mark.
Both players linked up exceptionally once again on 38. Hoolahan was left with acres of space down the left flank, his drilled pass was on a plate for Mullin who converted his fifth of the season from close distance to send the U’s ahead.
As you’d expect, the pitch had taken some damage from the torrential rain and was proving a nuisance as both sides were unable to carve out an early attack.
Kyle Knoyle exceptionally denied Padraig Amond a sniff at goal on 53. The striker originally looked one-on-one, but the defender scurried back and dealt with the danger in an assuring manner.
Mullin grabbed his and United’s second of the afternoon on the hour mark, expertly lashing a menacing shot into the roof of the net from an angle after Adam May had capitalised on a Newport mistake.
Twine reduced the deficit for the Welsh outfit on the 66th minute, firing in a rocket from 25 yards which hit the underside of the bar and into the net to instil belief for the away side.
Mullin was released once again on the 69th minute, after a marauding run forward he was unable to get his angles right as his attempt hit the side netting.
Bonner handed Hiram Boateng his debut on the 75th minute, and he was straight into the action minutes later as great play down the right from Hannant found an unmarked Boateng who couldn’t direct a shot past an onrushing Newport rear-guard.
Harvey Knibbs and Joe Ironside both entered the field of play shortly after, eager to inject some fresh legs as the hosts looked to see the game out in a professional manner.
Matt Dolan had a good opportunity in the dying embers, but couldn’t divert his shot goal bound as it sailed into the stands and Bonner’s boys held out.
Cambridge United: Mitov, Knoyle, Iredale, Taylor, Darling, Dunk, Hannant, Digby, May (Boateng, 75’), Hoolahan (Knibbs 80’), Mullin (Ironside 80’)
Bookings: May, Mullin
Newport County: Townsend, Haynes, Demetriou, Dolan, Bennett (Janneh 62’), Shephard (Willmott 78’), Labadie, Sheehan, Twine, Amond (Ellison 53’), Abrahams
Bookings: Bennett, Haynes