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Match Reports

Report: Reading 4-0 Cambridge United

16 March 2024

Match Reports

Report: Reading 4-0 Cambridge United

16 March 2024

Cambridge United’s latest Sky Bet League One tie saw them succumb to a heavy 4-0 defeat against Reading at the Select Car Leasing Stadium…

Strikes in the first half from Sam Smith and Femi Azeez was enough to set the tone for the afternoon, as the free-flowing hosts comfortably controlled the game and then applied further damage after the break through Lewis Wing’s and Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan’s blistering goals.

Heading into the encounter, both sides were situated on 39 points with a five-point gap separating them from the bottom four. Extending that and securing a first victory from seven was on the agenda for the U’s, who required a stern approach against the Royals, who had improved since the turn of the year but ultimately were still in the fight following three defeats from four.

In response to the midweek thrashing at Lincoln City, Garry Monk stressed the significance of a positive reaction by tinkering with his setup as he named the solitary change to his XI. James Gibbons returned to the side as Jack Lankester made way, whilst Gassan Ahadme was included in the matchday squad for the first time since December.

An excellent noise from both sets of fans behind the U’s defensive half helped create an energetic introduction.

It was down the other end on the 9th minute where the first chance was generated, when Liam Bennett – playing in an advanced winger role – whipped in a teasing cross to Michael Morrison at the back post who flicked a header inches wide of Joel Pereira’s left post.

The deadlock was broken a matter of seconds later courtesy of a move down the right when Azeez slipped in Harvey Knibbs, whose delivery into the six-yard box was cleared - only to fall invitingly to a lurking Smith who poked past Jack Stevens.

Five minutes later, the front-footed hosts forced Stevens into a vital save when Smith latched onto an excellent lofted through ball from Tyler Bindon, with United’s number one getting a paw to poke the ball away just before the striker could pull the trigger.

Having to ride the wave of momentum, Monk’s men remained pegged back and had to ensure the scoreline remained tight, with Clinton Mola next to go close on 20 when the defender retained the ball for a sustained period, dribbling from the corner and into space, where he rifled a 25-yard effort just over the crossbar.

The only opportunity the U’s could muster during the first period arrived on the 43rd minute when Lyle Taylor’s pinpoint cross from the corner of the penalty area nestled towards Morrison but he couldn’t arrive in the nick of time to divert a certain header on target.

A killer blow was dealt on the verge of half-time when Azeez launched a counter attack from the centre circle by sprinting into the area and diverting a shot into the near post to hand United a mountain to climb following the break.

After introducing Will Mannion and Sullay Kaikai to the fold during the break, the visitors came out with a really good impetus and came agonisingly close to reducing the deficit on the 47th minute. A well-worked move was concluded by L. Bennett’s exquisite deep cross to Elias Kachunga, whose header was expertly saved on the line by Pereira, before a Royals defender blocked his rebound. Play was recycled from here, but Kaikai put the ball wide from a matter of yards.

Although the tempo was improving, a goal was needed and fast. On 56, a one-two down the left from Paul Digby and James Brophy allowed a clearance, which fell to Jordan Cousins from long range with the goalkeeper not in net, but it was speculative as the strike was blocked.

The game looked to be out of reach on the hour mark when Wing picked up the ball inside the area and managed to curl a looping attempt past every U’s man to increase the advantage.

With the energy zapped and the match becoming more one-sided from here, the substitutions were rolled and the attempts continued to flow as Knibbs came close before Smith’s 79th minute header creeped just over Mannion’s crossbar.

Five minutes from time, Ehibhatiomhan added to the proceedings with a well-taken volley into the top corner, which proved to be the last piece of action as United were consigned to another disappointing defeat on the road.

The U’s are now without an encounter for the next couple of weeks, with their next third tier tie coming against Barnsley at Oakwell on Friday 29th March – be sure to back the boys during the Easter period.


Reading: Pereira, Mola, Mbengue (Dean, 87’), Bindon, Dorsett (Abrefa, 75’), Wing, Savage (Rushesha, 87’), Azeez (Ehibhatiomhan, 76’), Knibbs, Elliott (Mukairu, 55’), Smith

Subs Not Used: Button, Wareham

Goalscorers: Smith (10’), Azeez (45+1’), Wing (61’), Ehibhatiomhan (84’)



Cambridge United: Stevens (Mannion, 46’), Gibbons, R. Bennett, Morrison, Andrew (Kaikai, 46’), Cousins (Lankester, 72’), L. Bennett, Digby, Brophy, Kachunga, Taylor (Ahadme, 81’)

Subs Not Used: Okedina, May, Bonne


Bookings: R. Bennett


Referee: Benjamin Speedie

Attendance: 15,644 (984 away fans)

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