Cambridge United returned to winning ways after edging out AFC Wimbledon 1-0 at the Abbey Stadium...
After a tight first half, Jensen Weir exploded United into life moments after the break with a delightful header to separate the points and grab a very welcoming three points.
Mark Bonner named three changes from the threadbare team that gained a point at Doncaster Rovers in midweek. Paul Digby returned from suspension to captain the side with Wes Hoolahan and Joe Ironside being deployed to the attacking ranks as the U’s
A return to winning ways was invaluable for United - whose recent form of seven without victory needed addressing. Nonetheless, they’d shared the points in five of those, tallying a creditable run of just two losses in eight and further highlighting their hard-to-beat mentality. Eager to steer the ship in their sixth season in the third tier, a promising Dons side obtained a solitary point advantage over the hosts despite finding themselves in a sticky rut of one win in nine.
The U’s started the match on the front foot, looking sharp and creating the afternoon’s first opportunity on the 6thminute. Hoolahan picked up the ball from a short corner and whipped a cross onto the head of an unmarked George Williams who leaped well but couldn’t get his angles right as it diverted inches wide.
The opening half an hour of the encounter proved a battle with both sides limiting each other in the middle of the park. The next real piece of entertainment arrived on 34 when Jack Rudoni got the final touch on a delivery from the far left, but the attacker couldn’t generate the power to test Tomas Holy who calmly collected.
The aforementioned U’s loanee remained composed in the middle of the park three minutes later - performing a dummy and engineering a handy attack concluded by Weir- with the ball floating to him from 25 yards out but the midfielder’s venomous strike was blocked by Daniel Csoka who bravely put his body on the line.
Holy came to the rescue for United on the cusp of half-time. A good ball from Chaye Alexander was flicked on by Rudoni and looked destined to nestle into the corner before the goalkeeper pulled off a stunning reflex save to ensure the sides remained deadlocked.
Fortunately for the hosts, it wouldn’t last long as Weir handed them the dream start seconds after the interval. The Brighton & Hove Albion loanee added the right mixture of power and accuracy to loop his header home from 12 yards to give the U’s the advantage.
The breakthrough gave Bonner’s men a real chance to control the game and ultimately try to conjure up a second. They almost capitalised on exactly that with some quickfire golden opportunities on the 56th minute. Shilow Tracey, who had been running the show, was released down the far right of the penalty area and forced Nik Tzanev into a low save. A goalmouth scramble ensued, eventually falling to Weir who looked destined to secure a brace but was denied by goal line heroics from Ben Heneghan.
The Wombles’ reaction was gradual, but the substitute of Ollie Palmer added an extra dimension to their game. They dealt the U’s with a heart-in-mouth moment on 67 when a flicked Csoka header from a teasing delivery left Holy rooted to the spot, grazing the post and bobbling out of danger.
As the game turned scrappy, United remained professional and assuring with their defensive work, clearing the lines with aplomb at every attempt.
They were almost left helpless on 85 when substitute Nesta Guinness-Walker scampered into the box and lofted a pinpoint cross towards Rudoni, but from six yards he cushioned his header into the gloves of the imposing Holy.
Looking to kill the game off, excellent hold-up play from Ironside teed up Weir who darted inside the box but blazed his drilled attempt wide of Tzanev’s left post. The damage was done nonetheless – with the U’s staying firm to tear up their winless run and secure a first league clean sheet since late-August.
The U’s will look to secure back-to-back victories next up when they make the trek to the Mazuma Stadium on Tuesday evening (2nd November) to take on fellow newcomers Morecambe.
Cambridge United: Holy, Williams, Jones (Masterson, 73), Okedina, Iredale, Digby, Weir, Smith (Brophy, 78), Hoolahan, Tracey, Ironside
Bookings: Iredale, Williams, Jones
AFC Wimbledon: Tzanev, Lawrence (Guinness-Walker, 64), Heneghan, Csoka, Alexander, Hartigan, Woodyard, McCormick, Rudoni, Assal, Pressley (Palmer, 64)
Attendance: 5609 (922 away fans)