These bloody lads, eh? This team. On a weekend where certain football teams have shown their arse to hard-working fans all over Europe we still have the Super U’s to remind us of all the joy and good times this sport can bring.
We’re not gonna lie, that wasn’t an enjoyable game to watch. Tense doesn’t even come close to describing it. After a disappointing display against Exeter last week, all eyes were on Mark Bonner to see how he’d react to the defeat, and he moved to bring in Declan Drysdale for Jubril Okedina and Luke Hannant for Liam O’Neil. From what we’ve seen there’s not much between Drysdale and Okedina, the Spurs man maybe a bit more composed on the ball but Drysdale slightly more likely to get stuck in against tougher strikers. Either way, it wasn’t a swap you’d consider a game-changer in any way…
Hannant in for O’Neil gave us a bit more of an attacking edge, Liam has been in fine form this season but when he has a poor game it tends to affect the midfield as whole, which says a lot about the important role he plays. We know he’s not everyones favourite player and can be an easy scapegoat at times, but he brings qualities to the midfield some of the other players don’t possess. Hannant on the other hand is much more likely to run at players, and is a fairly decent crosser of the ball – with Newport making do with a makeshift defence due to injuries, Hannant was the obvious choice to come in.
The first half saw chances for both teams, Ironside with an early header and Newport coming close too, testing Burton with a long range shots hoping to take advantage of the early afternoon sun in his eyes. Newport had the upper hand in the first 45, pressing United and keeping us on our toes, with Josh Sheehan in particular being a real thorn in our side. In all honesty, they should have had a chance to take the lead when Wes Hoolahan blocked a shot in the area with his hands – the referee on this occasion deciding that it was an instinct reaction to protect his face, but we’d be pissed off if that wasn’t given against us. Oh well.
The second half saw United come out with a much higher intensity, and Luke Hannant tested the keeper with a shot from the edge of the area and Paul Mullin couldn’t do anything other than hit the post from a rocket cross that came straight at him. Newport thought they had another big call for a penalty shortly after as Declan Drysdale took a shot to the head, but this one was rightly waved away by the ref, much to the frustration of Newport boss Michael Flynn, who earned himself a yellow card for the protests.
Declan Drysdales head was again key shortly after as Newports defenders tried to rugby tackle every U’s attacker from a corner, but it was a falling Dec that got his head onto the ball to nod it past the keeper and put United 1-0 up. Bonner acted quickly to make changes and shore up the midfield in order to see the game out – Mullin coming off to leave Ironside to play the target man role superbly, Big Joe holding up the ball and keeping possession to run down the final few minutes on the clock.
Three more points in the bag then, and six more needed from our last four games. One of the great things about Mark Bonner and this side is that they don’t let defeat get them down. More often than not we’ve bounced back from a loss with a win and that shows a toughness and resilience that’s been missing from U’s teams in the past. Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, we know that this team is going to give everything, to literally bleed Amber to get us over the line, and all credit for that goes to Bonner and Waddock.
Promotion would mean the world to U’s fans, and whilst it may “only” be into League One, the memories that will be made during trips to Ipswich, Sunderland and others will last a lifetime. This team will live long in the memory of fans who, even though we’ve not been able to attend many matches this season, have forged a real connection with this side that epitomises the values of everything Cambridge United stands for. Sky TV won’t care if we go up this season, nor will any of the newspapers, or your friends or colleagues, but to the small band of U’s supporters across the globe each and every one of us will experience feelings of ecstasy, togetherness and pride that is irreplaceable. You’re not gonna get that with your “Super League”.
Man of the Match: It can only be Declan Drysdale can’t it? Put his head (and not his hands) everywhere and paid the price for it before reaping the rewards. His defensive partner Greg Taylor was absolutely solid too and deserves praise.
Soundtrack of the Match: The Streets – Dry Your Eyes Mate
United: Burton, Knoyle, Drysdale, Taylor, Iredale, Digby, Boateng (O’Neil), Hannant (Dunk), Hoolahan (May), Mullin (Tracey), Ironside