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U's out at the Second Round stage following Grimsby defeat

26 November 2022

Cambridge United’s Emirates FA Cup journey reached its conclusion at the Second Round stage after Grimsby Town secured a 1-2 victory at the death at the Abbey Stadium...

Following an evenly-matched first hour of the encounter, the Mariners pounced on their growing pressure through Otis Khan. Sam Smith came off the bench to head home and level matters, but Khan was composed in front of goal in the dying embers to down the U’s.

Needing to navigate their way past a slight banana skin, United hoped the prospect of a healthy cup run would breed confidence within the group heading into the Christmas period. The Mariners, on the contrary, were out to put another League One side to the sword and conclude a memorable 2022 with progression.

Following the defeat to Accrington Stanley a week earlier, Mark Bonner opted to make the solitary change to the XI - with Shilow Tracey replacing Jack Lankester, who dropped to the bench.

A lively prospect from the get go, John McAtee caused a scare on the 6th minute when he latched onto Will Mannion’s kick, which fortunately flew away from danger.

However, the U’s looked sharp - particularly down the left - and improved by the minute, forcing early corners and attempting to get a foothold.

Ultimately, the Mariners enjoyed the better start in terms of opportunities. On 16, Brendan Kiernan concluded a neat move in and around the box by firing high and wide of Mannion.

The chance of the game fell to the way of the hosts on the half an hour mark when Kieran Green headed a teasing corner onto his own crossbar before the ball was scrambled away.

An industrious attack from full-back Michee Efete on 36 allowed him to tee up Harry Clifton whose attempt from an angle was astutely saved by Mannion, who imposed himself well. All in all, nothing could separate the sides in an evenly-matched opening period.

In a blistering piece of action following the break, James Brophy marauded forwards and found his way to Harvey Knibbs, who picked his spot from under 25 yards but floated his shot wide of Max Crocombe’s left post.

Straight down the other end, McAtee pulled the trigger from outside of the box, but it gained a vital deflection from Jubril Okedina before being tipped over the bar from Mannion.

Deadlock was broken on the stroke of the hour mark when, after Mannion originally kept out Harry Clifton’s shot, Khan was on hand to bundle into a tight spot to send the League Two side ahead.

Continuing to purr, the Mariners almost doubled their lead on 72 when McAtee scampered down the right in a one-on-one position, cracking a shot which was well-stopped by the legs of Mannion.

Shortly after, Bonner rolled another double substitution to inject energy in the final third and hopefully muster up the goal.

On the 80th minute, it arrived – and in some style. Following Paul Digby’s cross, Smith executed venom on a header to power into the back of the net to get his side level and back in the goals.

With both sides going for the winner, Town went agonisingly close on 86 when Danny Amos was denied by Mannion before Gavan Holohan lashed wide from a matter of yards in the follow-up.

In cruel fashion, Khan was released clean on goal on the stroke of additional time, keeping his composure to slot into the corner of the net to send the Mariners through and break U’s hearts.

Up next, the U’s make the trip to Nailsworth on Saturday (3rd December) to take on bottom of the table Forest Green Rovers. Be sure to back the boys in what is a crucial League One clash.


Cambridge United: Mannion, Williams, Jones, Okedina, Dunk (Smith, 65), Digby, Simper (Worman, 76), Tracey (Lankester, 64), Knibbs (Janneh, 76), Brophy, Ironside

Subs Not Used: Holden, Taylor, Jobe, McConnell

Goalscorers: Smith (80’)

Bookings: Digby


Grimsby Town: Crocombe, Efete, Waterfall, Maher, Amos, Clifton, Green, Kiernan (Smith, 90+1), Holohan (Morris, 90+3), Khan (Khouri, 90+3), McAtee (Simmonds, 88)

Subs Not Used: Pardington, Hunt, Pearson, Orsi, Richardson

Goalscorers: Khan (60’, 90’)

Bookings: Waterfall, McAtee


Referee: Carl Brook

Attendance: 3044 (726 away fans)

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