Despite the return of several key men, United were comfortably beaten by a Wycombe side looking to reignite their promotion hopes…
Wycombe asserted their authority on the game with two early goals before sealing the three points with five minutes to go, with United unable to muster up a response despite Ironside and Jones making their return to the side.
In reaction to Saturday’s defeat at the Kassam Stadium, Mark Bonner named three changes to his United team ahead of Tuesday night’s clash.
Lloyd Jones was named in the starting eleven for the first time since the defender hobbled off in United’s win over AFC Wimbledon at the Abbey back in November, while Ben Worman and Shilow Tracey also made a return to the team.
Much like in the previous two outings, Mark Bonner’s men started quickly, with Sam Smith almost giving United the perfect start after just four minutes, however, off-balance and slightly blind-sided, the striker was unable to make sufficient connection on George Williams’ long throw, and Chairboy’s stopper David Stockdale was able to comfortably gather.
Despite the fast start, it was the hosts who landed the first punch after 10 minutes when Daryl Horgan’s long-range strike, heavily assisted by Anis Mahmeti’s back, wrong-footed Dimi Mitov and bobbled into the net.
Just four minutes later, the hosts doubled their lead as good work from Anis Mehmeti saw the forward beat his man before teeing up Gareth McCleary to fire past Mitov from the edge of the six-yard-box.
United’s best passage of the first half followed the quick-fire double. With the pick of United’s chances falling to Smith, who was just unable to aim a header goalwards, following good work from Williams down the full-back's right.
Still on top, looking for a way back into the game, Shilow Tracey, looking threatening on his return to the side, sparked furious cries from United’s dug-out after the winger looked to have been caught in the area by the trailing leg of Josh Scowen – however James Oldham was having none of it.
Adam May, looking a frustrated figure, was the first to go into the referee’s book, following the midfielder’s late challenge on Josh Scowen.
With Wycombe looking impenetrable in the early exchanges of the second half, United were able to get some joy down George Williams’ right-hand side, as the full-back saw a long-range shot rebound out for United’s first corner of the game after 58 minutes.
Struggling to break down Wycombe back four, Mark Bonner turned to Joe Ironside and Jack Lankester in the 66th minute in hope of finding a way back into the game.
Ironside, making his return to United’s side was involved straight away, winning United a free-kick in an advanced position after being dragged down by Stewart, however the resulting free-kick petered out and the hosts were able to survive.
The game opened up as United went in search of a route back into the game, with substitute David Wheeler almost taking advantage of United’s attacking exploits, however the forward was guided out wide well by Jones before firing into Mitov’s side-netting.
Mark Bonner’s final roll of the dice saw loanee Lorent Tolaj replace James Brophy in the 81st minute.
The physicality of Joe Ironside was causing the hosts problems, and the striker so nearly marked his return with a goal in the 83rd minute after turning and shooting well, however Sam Vokes’ excellent goal-line clearance denied the striker.
United, who’d committed men forward, were punished in the 85th minute, as a breaking McCleary squared the ball to an unmarked Anis Mehmeti to seal the three points for the hosts.
Mark Bonner's men are back in action on Saturday when they host Shrewsbury Town at the Abbey Stadium - a game that is dedicated to Women's Football Weekend, with a whole host of activities and initiatives will be carried out during the day as we celebrate our female supporters, staff and players, whilst also raising awareness of the barriers and discrimination that Women continue to face when supporting or playing for their team.
Cambridge United Starting XI: Mitov, Williams, Digby, Jones, Brophy (Tolaj 81’), Smith, Dunk, Tracey (Ironside 66’), May, Sherring, Worman (Lankester 66’)
Bench: Mannion, Ironside, Okedina, Tolaj, Lankester, Bennett, Yearn
Bookings: May (35’)
Wycombe Wanderers Starting XI: Stockdale, Stewart, Tafazoli, Vokes, Wing, McCleary, Horgan, Mehmeti, Obita, McCarthy, Scowen
Bench: Dickinson, Grimmer, Wheeler, Kaikai, Hanlan, Akinfenwa, Forino
Goals: Mehmeti (10’, 85’), McCleary (14’)