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Match Reports

United and Curzon play out stalemate to force replay

6 November 2022

Cambridge United were forced to settle for a First Round replay at the Abbey Stadium as they were held goalless against Curzon Ashton on Sunday…

After an even first half in which both sides had good opportunities to score, the U’s stepped up a gear in the second 45 minutes but couldn’t find that all-important goal to win the tie.

Just two changes were named ahead of the tie, with Harrison Dunk returning from injury to replace George Williams whilst Sam Smith’s recovery from a slight knock meant he came in to the team for Jack Lankester.

Playing in soaking conditions in unfamiliar surroundings, the game started off evenly with the gulf in league positions not necessarily translating onto the pitch. Dunk picked up an early booking after preventing Hayhurst from breaking forward into the final third but the subsequent free-kick was easily collected by Mannion.

With 12 minutes on the clock, United created the first clear-cut chance of the match as the attacking unit linked up well to play Brophy in down the left, who opted to pass the ball across the face of goal for Knibbs, but his finish was off-target.

As if Bonner’s men needed a reminder, the Nash had their first sight of goal just minutes later, as Peers isolated Rossi on the counter-attack before letting fly but the young centre-back got a vital deflection on the ball to send it out for a first corner of the contest.

Curzon came close from the set-piece, as a packed six yard box and good delivery caused problems for the U’s defence, but the shot on goal was again deflected wide of goal.

United began to gain more control of the game and saw a number of half chances go begging before the half hour mark. An important defensive header meant that Smith’s 20th minute strike flew over the bar, before Ironside forced Renshaw into a simple save after latching onto Okedina’s cross with his head.

The home side continued to show a threat during periods of the game and Hancock blazed over the best chance of the half with 33 minutes played, as he failed to find the target from 10 yards out after the Nash won the ball back by the corner flag before working it into shooting position for the attacker.

Digby, not known for his left footed strikes, let fly from 20 yards and forced Renshaw to get down low and parry the ball away, before United’s best chance of the opening period, as Brophy broke with pace down the left hand side before playing the ball across for Knibbs, who opened his foot up to try and find the top corner, but narrowly missed the target.

There was to be one final opportunity for the home side in the first half as Dimaio volleyed over from 10 yards out with the goal at his mercy.

Both teams came out unchanged for the second period and it was a full-blooded restart to proceedings. Dimaio, who came so close at the end of the first half had another sight of goal early in the second and but for a brilliant last-ditch defensive block, might have opened up the scoring.

With just ten minutes played since the restart, Bonner brought on Lankester and Tracey in place of Smith and Dunk as the U’s looked to regain momentum.

Both players made an immediate impact, linking up well and playing with attacking intent and purpose. The pressure was beginning to mount on the opposition and Simper had a golden opportunity to score with 20 minutes remaining, as he was teed up from 8 yards out but denied by the outstretched foot of Renshaw.

Lankester came inches away from finding the net with a sublime free-kick effort on 80 minutes, before Worman replaced Simper for the final moments of the contest.

The Curzon threat had all but subsided by this point with the outcome of the game seemingly depending on whether they could hold out for a draw and replay back at the Abbey.

Late chances came and went as Knibbs arrowed a header over the bar following great play by Tracey to beat his man out wide before firing in a fizzing cross, and a goalline scramble soon after saw the ball fall just the wrong side of the post after a curling ball into the box by Worman caused chaos amongst the defence.

Just as it looked like the drama had ended, a late free-kick for the hosts bounced right in-front of Mannion who did well to palm the ball away and out for a corner. The U's defended the following set-piece and as the full-time whistle blew, the home players, staff and supporters understandably celebrated a historic draw.

Whilst it wasn’t the result that United were looking for, they know that they will have a second bite of the cherry back at home.


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