A third goal from his first three league games from Joe Ironside rescued a point for U’s in Plymouth during a hotly-contested match at Home Park…
A match that was never far from controversy and incident, United fought back from a losing position after Jephcott’s 68th minute opener, through Ironside’s rebounded penalty.
The result means that Cambridge return home on Saturday from a gruelling week on the road with something to show and two points from their opening three games.
Three changes were named from Saturday’s match at Accrington, as Jones made his return from injury to start against his hometown Club in-place of Dunk, whilst Tracey and May replaced Weir and Hoolahan.
The game got off to a feisty start, as a hard challenge on Williams was met with protests once United were awarded the free-kick. Wilson and Williams were both carded for their roles in the melee, with the former perhaps fortunate not to have been dealt with more severely, as his hands appeared to strike the face of Williams.
Williams was again in the thick of the action on 11 minutes, as he darted to the front-post from a United corner to almost turn the ball home with the inside of his boot.
Plymouth’s first strike on goal came a few minutes later, as Jephcott forced Mitov into a rather routine stop, and two minutes later, O’Neil mirrored Jephcott’s effort with one of his own, after Brophy teed up his teammate following good work out wide.
The best chance of the first half came to Plymouth’s Camara after 20 minutes, as he met a pin-point cross from six yards out, only to head over the bar.
Then, United’s defensive woes worsened on 26 minutes, as Greg Taylor was forced off on a stretcher after an unfortunate landing on his ankle, which brought Harrison Dunk into the action earlier than expected.
Neither side generated much in-front of goal during the latter stages of the first half, but Tracey – who made a big impact from the right hand side – created two half-chances for the U’s in the closing minutes. The first, a cross to Brophy at the back-post who got his angles all wrong with his header, before Tracey sprinted through the thirds before seeing his final pass cut-out just in the nick of time.
Argyle started the second half very much on the front-foot and pinned United back for much of the early goings. 10 minutes into the half, Plymouth had the ball in the net through Jephcott, but after much discussion between the Referee and his Assistant, decided to rule the goal out for offside.
Despite the let-off, the home side continued to push for the opening goal and just a minute after Mitov denied Gillesphey from 30 yards with a fine save, the pressure finally paid off as Jephcott fired in his third of the season after being found unmarked by Houghton at the back-post.
Although it was beginning to look like the long journey to South Devon would prove to be fruitless, a clever pass in-behind by O’Neil for Tracey set the forward on the run at goal, and after being bundled over by a clumsy Argyle challenge, there was no decision to make by the Referee other than to point to the spot.
Ironside converted on the rebound, after his initial effort was saved, and U’s had something to cling onto.
Cling onto they did, as Plymouth pressed again for a winner with their best chances to do so coming in added time, as Williams cleared a shot on goal off the line before Shirley crashed a header off the crossbar.
A valuable point for United who return to the home comforts of the Abbey Stadium on Saturday to face Burton Albion.
Cambridge United: Mitov, Williams, Iredale, Digby, Taylor (Dunk, '31), Jones, Brophy, O'Neil, Tracey (Smith, '78), May (Weir, '90)
Subs: Mannion, Smith, Dunk, Weir, Knibbs, Worman, Jobe
Bookings: Williams, Digby, May, O'Neil, Brophy
Plymouth Argyle: Cooper, Gillesphey, Houghton (Shirley, 89'), Wilson, Scarr, Broom, Edwards, Hardie, Grant (Law, '78), Pereira, Jephcott (Randall, 78')
Subs: Burton, Randell, Galloway, Law, Craske, Tomlinson, Shirley
Bookings: Wilson, Edwards