Cambridge United succumbed to a disappointing 0-1 defeat in Sky Bet League One as Accrington Stanley secured the points at the Abbey Stadium...
In an encounter with very little opportunities, Harvey Rodgers’ conversion from close-range on the stroke of half-time was enough to separate the sides and force frustration for the U’s.
Following three successive clean sheets, the defensive foundations had been laid. Now, United were out to prevent a fifth game without finding the back of the net. Eager to find their mojo in front of goal, they were presented against a John Coleman side two spaces below and in the midst of a sticky seven-match winless run.
Following the demanding penalty victory against Curzon Ashton four days earlier, Mark Bonner injected five new faces to the starting XI – opting with the same team from their last league outing after Harrison Dunk and Lewis Simper were deemed fit enough to start.
Although they were understandably eager to start in a productive manner, the U’s had to stand their ground in the opening minutes. First, Tommy Leigh’s free-kick hit the roof of the net following a vital deflection from an amber wall before Ethan Hamilton tested his luck from 25 yards, which flew whiskers wide of Will Mannion’s right post.
On the 15th minute, Stanley thought they’d executed the opener when Doug Tharme cracked into the upper echelons of the net from a matter of yards following a scramble in the box, but it was swiftly ruled out for offside following communication with the linesman.
In truth, it had been a below-par first half an hour, with chances very much at a premium. United, certainly the busier of defences, remained compact and aggressive but at the other end were unable to find that killer pass to trouble goalkeeper Toby Savin.
On 33, Leigh raced down the right and whipped in a teasing cross which was met by the head of Shaun Whalley but matched by the gloves of Mannion.
The deadlock was broken and United’s defensive streak was shattered in additional time when Tharme’s effective long throw was flicked into the back of the net by Rodgers to cause frustration for the home faithful.
From the get go, the U’s looked more energetic, enjoying freedom in the final third and forcing some quickfire shots.
However, it was John Coleman’s men who were causing the most problems in front of goal. On the 55th minute, Whalley marauded forwards and teed up Leigh down the left whose drilled attempt couldn’t be met by an onrushing player as it creeped out of play.
With under 20 minutes left on the clock, Bonner had brought on four substitutions to the fold - all attacking options who were tasked to spearhead the fightback.
On 79, Hamilton raced into the final third in a three-on-one position, opting to pull the trigger which was denied by Lloyd Jones, who cleared to safety. Holding on, the hosts needed to pull something from a dogged Accrington outfit.
Saikou Janneh fancied his chances a few minutes later, attempting a speculative effort from under 30 yards which was caught well from Savin.
Frustratingly for the United faithful, time ran out. Despite their endeavours late in the clash, the visitors battled to maximum points to consign a miserable defeat.
Action at the Abbey continues next Saturday (26th November) as the U’s look to dispatch League Two outfit Grimsby Town and secure their name in the promised Third Round of the Emirates FA Cup once again – be sure to roar the team on.
Cambridge United: Mannion, Williams, Jones, Okedina, Dunk, Digby, Simper (Worman, 72), Lankester (Tracey, 45), Knibbs (Smith, 64), Brophy (Janneh, 64), Ironside
Subs Not Used: Holden, Taylor, Jobe
Accrington Stanley: Savin, Fernandes, Tharme, Rodgers, Clark, Hamilton, Coyle, Longelo (Perritt, 84), Conneely, Leigh (Adedoyin, 80), Whalley
Subs Not Used: Jensen, Nolan, Delfouneso, Martin, Touray
Goalscorers: Rodgers (45+2)
Bookings: Rodgers, Perritt
Referee: Chris Pollard
Attendance: 6022 (151 away fans)