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Match Reports

U's fall to defeat at Oakwell

11 February 2023

Match Reports

U's fall to defeat at Oakwell

11 February 2023

Cambridge United were consigned to a challenging 2-0 defeat against ten-man Barnsley in their latest Sky Bet League One tie at Oakwell Stadium...

An early strike from Max Watters gave the U’s work to do, but they received a lifeline before the break when the goalscorer received his marching orders for an elbow. Despite the man advantage, a spectacular attempt from Jordan Williams on the hour mark gave the Tykes a lead they would not surrender.

Following some committed back-to-back draws, the U’s had shown a stubborn edge of late and would use that as a stepping stone in their pursuit of capturing a first victory of the year and go three league games unbeaten for the first time since September. Meanwhile, the Tykes - who had lost just once at home since October - continued to protect their top six berth and were making good progress towards an instant return to the second tier.

Following the hard-fought draw at home to Ipswich Town a week earlier, Mark Bonner opted with one change to his starting XI – with George Williams replacing James Brophy in the wing-back system. Elsewhere, Academy prospect George Hoddle made the bench.

Dealing with the long balls well and starting promisingly, the U’s crafted their first delivery into the danger area on the 6th minute when Liam Bennett’s cross was almost met by Michael Morrison, before the hosts cleared their lines.

A matter of seconds later, they were celebrating an early opener. After skipping past his man, Devante Cole pulled the trigger from the outskirts of the box – although Dimitar Mitov got down low to save, it fell straight to a lurking Watters, who poked home from a matter of yards.

Under the cosh, the U’s were forced to contend with Barnsley’s early momentum, who went close through Watters again on 13 when the Cardiff City loanee struck an ambitious effort from a tight angle well wide.

Despite that, Bonner’s men made strong attempts to release their forwards with pinpoint passes, but the timing of the runs were just too soon with the offside flag denying three separate opportunities.

The complexity of the game was changed on the 36th minute when the Tykes’ goalscorer Watters received his marching orders for a blatant elbow on U’s defender Lloyd Jones.

Immediately beginning to switch play well and engineer the leveller, United and their travelling faithful knew they had been presented with an excellent chance to take some points and show some dominance. Ultimately, they were unable to test Harry Isted throughout the first period, but were determined to soon change that.

Despite having a man less, the Reds remained dangerous – Herbie Kane was presented with the time to run into the final third on 48 before trying his luck, which drilled wide of Mitov’s left post.

In an encouraging move, Joe Ironside played in Harvey Knibbs with a smart header, who raced into the box by riding challenges but just couldn’t get the shot away.

Minutes after the hour mark, when Sam Smith fired United’s first shot wide of Isted’s crossbar, the ball fell invitingly to J. Williams from under 25 yards who hit a crisp half-volley past a sea of light blue and into the bottom corner to give the visitors a mountain to climb.

The U’s immediately responded with an attempt on target when a super block from Bobby Thomas denied R. Bennett’s header on the 65th minute.

Isted’s gloves were warmed five minutes later when L. Bennett’s venomous cross landed to Smith - who powered a header at the Tykes’ number one from inside the six-yard box.

With ten minutes remaining, Conor McGrandles weaved into the penalty area and teed up Knibbs, but the attacker couldn’t latch on target as it landed wide. Time had run out for the U’s, who just couldn’t break down the well-oiled Tykes.

Up next, it’s Valentine’s Day action at the Abbey Stadium on Tuesday evening (14th February) as Cheltenham Town come to town in our Kids for a Quid campaign – be sure to come along and back the boys.


Barnsley: Isted, J. Williams, Thomas, Andersen, Kitching, Cadden (Norwood, 45), Phillips (Russell, 45), Connell (Cotter, 87), Kane, Cole (Larkeche, 87), Watters

Subs Not Used: Searle, Martin, Shaw

Goalscorers: Watters (7), J. Williams (63)

Bookings: Watters (RED), Norwood


Cambridge United: Mitov, R. Bennett, Morrison, Jones, Williams (Tracey, 71), Digby (Lankester, 77), McGrandles, Knibbs, L. Bennett (Haunstrup, 71), Smith, Ironside (Worman, 71)

Subs Not Used: Mannion, Okedina, Hoddle


Bookings: Digby, Williams, McGrandles, R. Bennett


Referee: Ross Joyce

Attendance: 10840 (602 away fans)

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