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Match Reports

Report: Cambridge United 1-2 Bolton Wanderers

20 February 2024

Match Reports

Report: Cambridge United 1-2 Bolton Wanderers

20 February 2024

Cambridge United were unable to register successive victories in Sky Bet League One as Bolton Wanderers came from behind to grab a 1-2 win at the Cledara Abbey Stadium…

A rapid start from the U’s saw them claim the advantage when Sullay Kaikai forced an own goal, before holding out for the break with real assurance. A period of early dominance from the Trotters during the second half helped turn the game on its head through Paris Maghoma and Carlos Mendes Gomes, who then restricted the ten-man hosts to a response.

United approached the rearranged clash bursting with momentum - and rightly so after responding to back-to-back defeats by recording their most emphatic league victory since December 2021 and their 12th clean sheet of the season last time out. The opener of a tough schedule saw Wanderers come to town, who were hot on the heels of the automatic promotion spots following a run that had seen them lose once since mid-December.

In reaction to the convincing victory against Carlisle United three days earlier, Neil Harris rolled the dice by naming four changes to his XI. Liam Bennett returned to the defence, whilst Jordan Cousins and James Brophy were also drafted in alongside Macauley Bonne, who made his first start in amber.

During a committed opening to proceedings, the hosts were forced to dig deep and see out quickfire shots on target on the 5th minute when Jack Stevens got down low to save Jon Dadi Bodvarsson’s left-footed attempt, before firmly claiming after Mendes Gomes followed up on the rebound.

The U’s drew first blood with eight minutes on the clock when Kaikai picked the ball up down the right, drove into a tight angle inside the area and whipped in a strike which, via a wicked Eoin Toal deflection, trickled over a helpless Joel Coleman and into the net.

Five minutes later, a delicious switch from Danny Andrew found livewire Kaikai, who touched it down, skinned his man and pulled the trigger from distance, which was pawed out for a corner by Coleman.

Ian Evatt’s side were enjoying the possession and had conducted some neat passages of play, but ultimately were yet to find that inciting pass in the final third to test United, who remained in fine fettle.

On the 22nd minute, Kaikai was brought down by Josh Sheehan a matter of yards outside the penalty area, prompting full-back Andrew to step up to the inviting chance, which beat the wall, bounced and powered towards goal but Coleman was collected to hold it.

Half an hour in, the tide started to turn in the Trotters’ favour, with their next opportunity falling to Josh Dacres-Cogley on the flank, who after being picked out by Gethin Jones sliced across the face of goal but was denied by an alert Stevens.

Continuing to threaten, a brief scare was caused on 37 when a Kyle Dempsey flick in the danger zone was diverted wide before the offside flag was raised.

All in all, United made it to half time with relative ease against their opponents thanks to their threat on the break and organisation at the back.

Understandably, the Lancashire ignited their fire following the break and started on the front foot. The silky feet of Nathanel Ogbeta helped work his way around a compact area before drilling towards the back post which was coolly placed behind by Andrew before it could find a visitor. The corner resulted in the winger then curling inches wide of Stevens’ right post and out for another.

Just when they were up against it, Bolton drew level on 51 when Ogbeta swung in a corner from the right which travelled through a sea of bodies and got a deft final touch from Maghoma, who claimed and wheeled away.

Remaining in the ascendency, the visitors completed the turnaround on the hour mark when an inch-perfect lofted pass from Sheehan clipped to Mendes Gomes, who composed himself and struck a first-time volley home.

The U’s response was a positive one. The goal allowed them to attack Wanderers as they went to a more preserved approach to protect their lead. Requiring that extra energy, Harris introduced George Thomas, Jack Lankester and Lyle Taylor in an attempt to find their route back with 20 minutes left on the clock.

After biding their time, United created a promising opportunity on 82 when Brophy intercepted the Trotters’ backline and took aim, only to deflect towards Lankester, who steered the rebound just wide of the post.

On the eve of six additional minutes, substitute Taylor got into an off-the-ball clash with former U Jack Iredale, who after delibration with the fourth official was shown a straight red card by the referee.

As a result, no equaliser was dished up by the hosts, who couldn’t quite grab the latter stages by the scruff of the neck as they fell short.

Up next, it’s the highly-anticipated Cambridgeshire Derby on Saturday afternoon (24th February) as the U’s do battle with Peterborough United – be sure to roar the boys on.


Cambridge United: Stevens, L. Bennett (Gibbons, 82’), R. Bennett, Morrison, Andrew, Digby (Thomas, 70’), Cousins, Kaikai (Lankester, 70’), Kachunga (Taylor, 71’), Brophy, Bonne

Subs Not Used: Mannion, Ibsen Rossi, May

Goalscorers: OG (8’)

Bookings: Cousins, Kachunga, Taylor (RED)


Bolton Wanderers: Coleman, Dacres-Cogley, Jones, Taylor (Iredale, 40’), Toal, Ogbeta, Sheehan, Maghoma (Morley, 72’), Dempsey, Mendes Gomes (Collins, 77’), Bodvarsson (Adeboyejo, 77’)

Subs Not Used: Forrester, Ramsay, Jerome

Goalscorers: Maghoma (51’), Mendes Gomes (62’)

Bookings: Sheehan, Iredale


Referee: David Rock

Attendance: 6525 (903 away fans)

Man of the Match: Kaikai

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