Cambridge Utd 2 Harriers 1
Venue: The Trade Recruitment Stadium
away fans: 85
Almost but not quite 50 years
It's taken almost fifty years for Cambridge Utd to get one over the Harriers but tonight at the Trade Recruitment Stadium they removed that dubious honour from their history books.
It was 1959 since they last beat the Harriers - admittedly we haven't played each other during all of that time - and that was at the old Aggborough when it looked something like a shed clad playing field. Time has moved on and the day when we lost against them had to come once more.
We had a disappointment before the game with the news that loan signing Lee Baker had returned to West Brom for treatment to a knee injury but it's believed that he'll be fit again in time for the visit to Mansfield on Saturday. Paul Bignot came into the side as his replacement while Dean Bennett went to the bench to be replaced by Matt Barnes-Homer.
Cambridge had a late enforced change too with Andy Parkinson injuring his knee in training.
The game kicked off with the Harriers playing with the wind and took the game straight to the hosts. A free kick was awarded our way in the opening seconds but Andy Ferrell could only send it wastefully over the crossbar. Following that early chance Utd took control of the game for a while with new signing Jardim looking impressive as he tested Adam Bartlett with a shot from the edge of the area and then seconds later he lost his marker to come in at the back post unseen to only just fail to connect with a whipped in cross.
Utd continued to press our goal with chances falling the way of Robbie Willmott, Mark Beesley and Jardim once more. It took almost twenty five minutes before the Harriers were to see any more of the ball and that came via the boot of Barnes-Homer whos shot headed straight for the keeper to take cleanly.
Two minutes later we had gone a goal behind.
Jon Challinor found Beesley out wide who then took to ball in towards Bartlett's area. He fired in a shot that was blocked by the Harriers new keeper and it fell just right for Lee McEvilly to pounce on and fire into the net from six yards out.
Harriers heads didn't drop for once and they immediately took the game back to their hosts with a shot from Simon Russell that forced Potter to save what looked to be a certain goal with his feet. We created further chances through Justin Richards twice and Andy Ferrell once but their efforts caused no real danger to the Cambridge defence.
The game started to get a bit heated at this point after challenges from Challinor and Jardim on Harriers players went unpunished by the referee but when Andy Ferrell challenged Challinor slightly too strongly the referee suddenly remembered what he was there for and booked Fez.
The half ended two minutes early for reasons known only to the referee who blew his whistle just thirty seconds after the fourth official had raised his board showing an extra two minutes of play.
HT: 1 - 0
The Harriers were the first back in action after the break going close with a shot from Darryl Knights that went just wide and then a volley from outside the area from Russell Penn that forced Potter into saving. Utd responded with a chance falling the way of Beesley when he tried to place a lob over the head of Bartlett but he got back to it and pushed it over the bar for a corner.
Again the atmosphere on the pitch started to get testy and the referee called Penn and Jardim over for a little chat in an effort to cool things down a bit. Andy Ferrell, being Andy Ferrell, carried on as normal and went in hard on Challinor again and thankfully Mr Halliday ignored it otherwise Fez could have been going off to blow smelly bubbles in the bath.
Mark Yates made the first change of the night when he bought on Martin Brittain in exchange for Knights and the team changed from the popular 4-3-1-2 to a workmanlike 4-4-2. We never got a chance to see it working though because almost from the re-start McEvilly put the home side two goals up.
Justin Richards hesitated on the ball in the middle of the park and found himself dispossessed by the dangerman Jardim. Jardim again broke free and sent over a cross that found McEvilly lurking to head the ball into the corner of the goal for his second of the night.
There looked no way back for the Harriers now as Utd stepped up the pressure on us. The game continued to be slightly bad tempered and Jon Challinor picked up a booking for time wasting after a free kick had been awarded to them.
Andy Ferrell tried to get us back in the game with a shot that was rising high but only earned derision from the home fans who tended to ignore the fact that their team are just as capable of sending balls over the stand. In a tactical change David McDermott came on for, the again, disappointing Simon Russell.
MBH almost got a goal back ten minutes from time when he got his head to a free kick and nearly squeezed it under the bar before Potter managed to get a hand to it and sweep it away from danger. Utd also had a header go close at the other end when Beesley sent his effort just wide after a cross was powered in by the former Forest Green man Anthony Tonkin.
Cambridge made their first change of the night when Chris Jones, on loan from Swansea, came on for Willmott and a minute later McDermott made a rash challenge on Gleeson that ended with both Captains being spoken to by the ref. Beesley wasted the free kick by skying it over the bar but the home fans didn't find that so funny.
With time quickly running out Cambridge thought that they had done enough to see us off but we hadn't finished yet. Mark Creighton had taken a desperate shot at goal that came back out to Russ Penn who then returned the ball back into the area for Justin Richards to slot the ball home from the far post.
It was Richards second goal in two games and could have done his confidence no end of good.
With the seconds now running out Cambridge turned to dubious methods to stop the Harriers gaining the equaliser. Paul Carden scythed down Russ Penn but escaped what should have been a certain red card and collected a yellow instead. Dean Bennett came on for Penn but it was all too late now and the final whistle blew just as Utd were about to make a substitution of their own.
It's time to regroup now as we travel the short distance to Mansfield and a chance to face old team mates in Michael Blackwood, Gavin Hurren and Alex Jeannin. It's also a good time to get our first win of the season.