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Match Reports

U's end pre-season with defeat at the Hive

29 July 2023

Match Reports

U's end pre-season with defeat at the Hive

29 July 2023

Cambridge United rounded off their pre-season schedule with a 2-0 defeat against Barnet at the Hive…

A first half flurry saw the home side score twice in quick succession from set-pieces and the U’s never really responded, struggling to get the better of both the opposition and conditions at a blustery Hive.

With next weekend’s season opener in mind, Mark Bonner named a strong starting XI to take on the Bees of Barnet in the final pre-season friendly of the summer.

Jack Stevens started between the sticks behind a back four of Liam and Ryan Bennett, Michael Morrison and Danny Andrew. Just ahead of them was a midfield of Paul Digby, George Thomas, James Brophy and Sullay Kaikai, with Jack Lankester supporting Gassan Ahadme up-front.

As expected, United controlled much of the opening period but with little threat on the Barnet goal, as promising attacks often fizzled out too early for the U’s liking.

Although Barnet showed little promise themselves in-front of goal for much of the first half, they scored two quick fire goals before the half hour mark, both from corners, to put the Bees 2-0 up.

The first came on 24 minutes from the head of Danny Collins, before Kabamba scrambled the ball in from close-range after Pritchard’s extravagant flick caught out the United defence, as the ball went looping towards the back-post where it was eventually turned in from the Barnet striker.

It was a startling series of events as Barnet’s direct approach temporarily rocked the U’s, who struggled to deal with their balls into the box and found themselves 2-0 down going into the break.

After being starved of service for much of the afternoon, Ahadme has his and United’s best sight of goal on 57 minutes, after Liam Bennett whipped in a perfect cross towards the back post for the striker, whose header fell wide of the goal.

The U’s then began to assert themselves on the opposition and enjoyed their best period of play as they pushed for a route back into the game. Cousins replaced Thomas on 60 minutes and with 15 minutes to play, the trio of Yearn, Okenabirhie and Dunk came on for Kaikai, Ahadme and Andrew.

The previous pattern of play re-emerged for the final quarter of the contest as neither side were able to build up any momentum.

Okedina and Simper were United’s final substitutes as Lankester and Bennett came on with just under 10 minutes to play, and aside from a late half-chance for Okenabirhie which got snuffed out by a covering defender, there was to be no later drama as United fell to their first pre-season defeat of the summer, with all eyes on next Saturday’s opening league game against Oxford United.

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