Cambridge United were on the receiving end of a derby day defeat at London Road as hosts Peterborough United claimed a 1-0 win...
Fired up from the get go, the U’s remained committed throughout, but were ultimately undone by a frustrating own goal within the opening stages of a feisty encounter.
An atmosphere for the ages awaited as the amber army, arriving quietly optimistic of securing derby delight, looked to steer towards consecutive league triumphs against a Posh side who had lost just once on home soil and were languishing in the play-offs.
Following the morale-boosting success at Wycombe Wanderers four days earlier, Mark Bonner opted with just one enforced change, which saw goalscorer Jack Lankester return to the fold in the absence of Fejiri Okenabirhie.
Within a matter of seconds, the challenges were flying in – with all 22 men fired up as they were roared on by a deafening noise.
An end-to-end introduction saw the U’s carve out the first opportunity on the 9th minute when Lankester was released down the right, who floated the ball towards Joe Ironside inside the six-yard box, but the striker couldn’t direct it towards goal as it scooped into the air.
Five minutes later, the hosts concluded a neat spell in the final third when Ephron Mason-Clark pulled it back to Harrison Burrows who blazed just wide of Will Mannion’s left stick.
With 16 minutes on the clock, the visitors found themselves a goal down after Burrows’ corner was frustratingly headed home by a U’s man after Paul Digby and Lloyd Jones both jumped for a header.
Applying the afterburners, Kwame Poku teed up Mason-Clark moments later who almost punished United by finishing off a rapid counter-attack, but the winger dragged his drilled attempt wide.
On the 35th minute, Bonner’s men almost levelled matters. In a well-worked passage of play, James Brophy curled an audacious cross towards an unmarked Harvey Knibbs who, from a matter of yards, darted his header just over Lucas Bergstrom’s crossbar.
The chances continued to flow. After Jonson Clark-Harris jinked his way into the box on 37, he unleashed real finesse which Mannion astutely denied with a low dive.
Livewire Poku concluded the first period with a menacing long-range attempt which curled too late as it sailed past the post. Down, but not out, United knew they still had everything to play for.
Showcasing immense energy straight after the break, the U’s pounced on the loose balls and forced a shot through Lankester on 49 when he fired from 10 yards but was blocked by the blue defence.
Three minutes later, Mason-Clark scampered into the box from the left and generated an immense amount of height on his shot which allowed Mannion to paw out for a corner, which was finished off by Lewis Simper’s important clearance and a header which grazed the roof of the net.
Mason-Clark was wondering how he hadn’t doubled the advantage on 55 after meeting the ball at the back post but firing agonisingly wide of the right post.
Substitute Shilow Tracey cut inside and pulled the trigger from inside the 18-yard box, which flew wide, before on the 70th minute Knibbs outstandingly dispossessed his man and raced towards goal with just the sole defender at his mercy, but Bergstrom got a critical hand on the attempt.
Following a slight scramble in the box with ten minutes of normal time remaining, the ball fell to Sam Smith on the floor who lashed at the paws of the alert Bergstrom.
United’s endeavour continued, with Digby continuously battling down the right - where the freedom was there to be had – but they couldn’t muster up an equaliser at the death despite Liam O’Neil’s trademark strike from distance.
Up next, United kickstart their Emirates FA Cup campaign on Sunday afternoon (6th November) as they travel to National League North outfit Curzon Ashton in the First Round – be sure to back the boys as they look to embark on another memorable journey.
Peterborough United: Bergstrom, Thompson, Edwards, Kent, Butler (Knight, 90+5), Taylor, Fuchs, Poku (Jade-Jones, 73), Burrows (Kyprianou, 84), Mason-Clark (Watts, 88), Clarke-Harris (Marriott, 85)
Subs Not Used: Blackmore, B. Thompson
Goalscorers: OG (16’)
Cambridge United: Mannion, Okedina, Jones, Ibsen Rossi, Williams, Digby, Simper (O’Neil, 64), Lankester (Smith, 64), Knibbs, Brophy (Tracey, 64), Ironside
Subs Not Used: Holden, Taylor, Janneh, Worman
Bookings: Simper, O’Neil
Referee: Scott Oldham