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Club News

Report: Cambridge United 2-1 Blackpool

16 December 2023

Club News

Report: Cambridge United 2-1 Blackpool

16 December 2023

Ten-man Cambridge United claimed their first Sky Bet League One victory under the tutelage of Neil Harris after securing a come-from-behind 2-1 success against Blackpool at the Abbey Stadium…

An early spell of pressure from the Tangerines saw them draw first blood through marksman Jordan Rhodes’ header, but the U’s showed desire to turn the game on its head courtesy of Elias Kachunga’s finish and Gassan Ahadme’s penalty, before navigating a late dismissal well to return to winning ways.

United had importantly broke their losing streak in the third tier last time out and were hoping to make it three unbeaten in all competitions. By doing that, they needed to break down the Seasiders’ resolve, with their play-off prospects accelerated of late thanks to three comfortable wins from four.

In response to the dramatic draw against Charlton Athletic a week earlier, Neil Harris opted to name an unchanged XI. The only change to the matchday squad saw Zeno Ibsen Rossi – marking his return from injury – replace fellow centre-back Ryan Bennett.

The U’s came out of the blocks with a positive approach – their waves of runs into the final third and passing sequences were pleasing, but it was just lacking that killer instinct or touch to force a chance.

Neil Critchley’s men too were relentless in their attacks from here, with their first sniff falling to Jake Beesley on the 8th minute after he was released by Karamoko Dembele inside the box, but Jubril Okedina was on hand to block the strike.

A teasing free-kick from loanee Dembele helped unlock the opener on 24 when his delivery floated to talisman Rhodes at the back post, who diverted a close-range header into the net.

Using the setback to spur them on, United forced the equaliser just seven minutes later when Jordan Cousins teed up a marauding James Brophy down the left, who utilised the acres of space and drilled across the face of goal to Ahadme, whose attempts to convert fell on a plate to Kachunga from yards out who converted.

Before they could pounce again, the hosts needed to stay resolute defensively to contend with Blackpool’s attacking prowess. Dembele caused a scare with a 25-yarder free-kick on the 34th minute – it had venom and dipped, but Jack Stevens got a crucial hand to paw it over the crossbar.

The goalkeeper was forced into another astute save moments later when Sonny Carey picked his spot and unleashed a curler, but Stevens dived to his left to deny a certain goal.

Remaining potent in the attack, Sullay Kaikai dissected the defence with a through ball to Ahadme three minutes from additional time, who beat the offside trap and rounded Dan Grimshaw but was brought down in the process. Stepping up from 12 yards, Ahadme was calm and collected as he buried home his fifth goal in as many games.

Maintaining the momentum after completing the comeback, the U’s should have stretched their lead on the 46th minute when wingers Kaikai and Brophy combined, with the latter teeing up Ahadme with a super ball – allowing the Moroccan to race towards goal in a one-on-one position, but an onrushing Grimshaw was brave to block.

Gradually building up steam, another set-piece from Dembele created a dangerous opportunity on the hour mark, but from a tight angle Rhodes lashed across the face of goal. It was the first scare of the second half and in truth the hosts looked good value for the lead.

Controlling the encounter well, Harris’ men continued to fight for the third and went agonisingly close to securing just that when the creative Brophy picked out Kachunga down the right, who showed superb vision to pick out sprinting substitute George Thomas, who leathered his near post.

However, it would be a tricky conclusion to navigate after U’s midfielder Paul Digby received a second yellow card on the 78th minute for a mistimed tackle.

Exploiting their extra space, forward Kyle Joseph found his way into the area after beating his man, but couldn’t pass Liam Bennett, whose critical tackle forced a corner and prevented the shot.

To their credit, they dug in deep and ensured they tasted maximum points for the first time since late October, with coconuts ringing around CB5 and Harris acknowledging the excellent backing.

Next up, action at the Abbey continues on Friday evening (22nd December) as Exeter City make the pilgrimage for the last match before Christmas – be sure to back the boys.


Cambridge United: Stevens, L. Bennett, Okedina, Morrison, Andrew (Ibsen Rossi, 82’), Cousins, Digby, Kaikai (Thomas, 67’), Kachunga (May, 81’), Brophy (Haunstrup, 90+3’), Ahadme

Subs Not Used: Mannion, Lankester, Gordon

Goalscorers: Kachunga (31’), Ahadme (43’)

Bookings: Andrew, Digby (RED), Kachunga, Brophy, Stevens


Blackpool: Grimshaw, Connolly, Pennington (Morgan, 81’), Husband, Lyons (Gabriel, 63’), Dembele, Norburn (Dale, 81’), Carey, Hamilton, Rhodes, Beesley (Joseph, 63’)

Subs Not Used: O’Donnell, Virtue, Casey

Goalscorers: Rhodes (24’)

Bookings: Beesley, Grimshaw, Norburn


Referee: Charles Breakspear

Attendance: 6042 (674 away fans)

Man of the Match: Kachunga

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