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Match Reports

Report: Derby County 0-0 Cambridge United

30 September 2023

Match Reports

Report: Derby County 0-0 Cambridge United

30 September 2023

Cambridge United battled valiantly at Pride Park Stadium as they secured a creditable 0-0 draw against Derby County in Sky Bet League One...

Throughout the 90 minutes, the U’s needed to soak up and see off waves of pressure, but did just that thanks to some resilient defending which handed them a share of the spoils and their fifth clean sheet of the campaign.

Both making steady steps in the right direction, the hosts and United sat 9th and 10th respectively and were level on points following mirroring starts. The task for the visitors was to secure a first victory in three and in the process stop the Rams from stretching their unbeaten run to three games.

After sharing the spoils against Port Vale a week earlier, Mark Bonner opted with two changes to his starting XI. Jack Lankester returned to the central role and Fejiri Okenabirhie made his first league start of the campaign, with Sullay Kaikai and Gassan Ahadme making way. Elsewhere, Jack Stevens and Jordan Cousins made a welcome return to the matchday squad.

United had a close shave in the opening seconds of the encounter when their free-kick turned into a deadly counter attack engineered by Nathaniel Mendez-Laing. The winger scampered towards the final third and teed up Tom Barkhuizen, who from a tight left angle in the box was crucially denied by Will Mannion’s brave collection.

Although the U’s had a nice tenacity about them when pouring forwards – and were utilising their physical presence wherever possible – the hosts were undoubtedly on top. Menacing on the left flanks, Barkhuizen then picked a delivery out which ricocheted before being smuggled away from danger.

Moments after Elias Kachunga was forced off the pitch through injury on the 19th minute, Derby knocked on the door once again after Ryan Nyambe found livewire Barkhuizen with a low cross – the number seven got a clean connection from distance and was heading towards goal were it not for Ryan Bennett’s important intervention.

From here, the clash petered out for a brief moment, with the hosts enjoying the possession and limiting Bonner’s men to minimal freedom.  

With 37 minutes on the clock, the ball was invitingly presented to Korey Smith from the outskirts of the box, who volleyed well wide of goal – concluding a period of domination where constant crosses were whipped into the box.

To the visitors’ credit, they were digging in deep and clearing their lines at every opportunity to ensure they preserved their clean sheet heading into the break.

The resolute approach continued, with County conjuring a delivery towards James Collins in the area on 50, whose flick sailed wide of a looming Martyn Waghorn, who was ready to pounce from 12 yards.

On the 65th minute, former U’s loanee Mendez-Laing beat his man down the right and crossed towards Waghorn who leapt well and executed a close-range header into the ground which bounced over Mannion’s crossbar. Momentum remained in Derby’s favour, but were finding it frustrating that they were yet to capitalise.

United’s best moments of the afternoon fell in quick succession on 73 when Joe Wildsmith got a vital touch on a deep Jubril Okedina cross, allowing the men in amber to recycle it before Paul Digby tested his luck with a speculative effort – which the goalkeeper was on hand to deny with a low dive.

Vying for late drama, Louie Sibley’s 84th minute corner landed perfectly to Curtis Nelson, who from a matter of yards headed inches over the crossbar via a deflection.

United navigated the three minutes of additional time astutely to earn their first goalless draw of the campaign and travel home with plenty to be encouraged by thanks to a committed performance.

It’s a quick turnaround now for the U’s, who welcome Barnsley to CB5 on Tuesday night (3rd October) – be sure to back the boys.

Derby County: Wildsmith, Nyambe, Nelson, Cashin, Forsyth (Wilson, 87’), Fornah, Smith (Bird, 87’), Mendez-Laing, Waghorn (Washington, 68’), Barkhuizen (Sibley, 68’), Collins

Subs Not Used: Vickers, Bradley, Robinson


Bookings: Nyambe, Collins

Cambridge United: Mannion, L. Bennett (Okedina, 45’), R. Bennett, Morrison, Andrew, Digby, Thomas, Brophy, Lankester (May, 69’), Kachunga (Gordon, 19’), Okenabirhie (Ahadme, 69’)

Subs Not Used: Stevens, Ibsen Rossi, Cousins


Bookings: Gordon, R. Bennett

Referee: Ollie Yates

Attendance: 26122

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