Cambridge United finished top of their Papa John’s Trophy group despite a 1-0 defeat at Stevenage in the final fixture of the round…
The result and top spot finish means that the U’s are guaranteed a home tie in the Second Round, whilst Boro will also advance to the knockout stages.
Mark Bonner named a much changed side, with only Jubril Okedina, Adam May, Ben Worman and Conor Masterson keeping their place from Saturday’s FA Cup match at Northampton, whilst seven Academy products were included in the squad, including a first start for 16-year-old Kai Yearn.
The first half saw little goal-mouth action as both sides struggled to create any clear openings. A goal-line clearance from Leon Davies to Stevenage’s top scorer, Elliott List, after just 10 minutes was the closest either side to scoring during the majority of the first half.
The U’s best moment of opening period came on 37 minutes, as Bennett raced down the right to play the ball across to Knibbs, whose blocked shot came out to Yearn, but the chance went begging as he failed to take it under.
A few minutes later, Elliott List opened the scoring for Stevenage with a neat finish from 10 yards out following a quick counter-attack up the pitch to give Boro the lead.
It was the hosts who came out the quicker to start the second half and McKenzie-Lyle was twice required to keep the score at 1-0 as Jake Reeves and Bradley Barry both fired in powerful, on-target strikes that were brilliantly beaten away.
With 10 minutes gone, the U’s started to finally turn the screw and put pressure on the Stevenage goal and the introductions of James Brophy and Jensen Weir added further impetus into United’s push for an equaliser.
There was a let off on 66 minutes as Jamie Reid struck the post with a lob over McKenzie-Lyle that had the keeper beaten and then with 77 minutes on the clock, Stevenage stopper Smith made his first save, denying Harvey Knibbs from point-blank range after Davies swung in a perfect cross for the striker.
Joe Ironside was soon brought on as the final United change but couldn’t make any meaningful impact as Stevenage came away with the victory on the night.
The draw for the Second Round will take place live on Sky Sports Football on Saturday 13 November, following the coverage of Bradford City vs Port Vale.