With the news breaking on Friday that United had bought back the Abbey Stadium from Grosvenor Estates there was a celebratory mood over the City leading up to the weekend. Would Lincoln, 5-1 winners here last season, spoil the party?
Mark Bonner kept faith with the eleven from the rollercoaster win over Burton, meaning Mitov in goal, Williams and Dunk either side of Jones and Okedina in defence, with Digby & May holding the middle of the park. Up front the dynamic attacking quartet of Sam Smith, Shilow Tracey, Harvey Knibbs and Joe Ironside were primed to attack.
Both teams started well, although a nasty collision between Ironside and an Imps defender in the first ten minutes delayed the game whilst Big Joe was bandaged up; we all know that Bandages = goals, so it wasn’t a surprise when 15 minutes later a Dunk cross was knocked back by Sam Smith into the path of Paul Digby who’s blocked shot found Joe Ironside with his back to goal who, in almost a carbon copy of his winner against Newcastle, turned and shot to give the U’s the lead. Bear in mind by this time in last seasons fixture we were already 3-0 down.
Three minutes later United doubled their lead, Knibbs racing clear, drawing the keeper and unselfishly cutting back for Ironside to lash it in from close range.
The second half – let’s be honest – was pretty boring. Being generous you could call it an exercise in game control from United, but Lincoln didn’t really threaten anything going forward either. There were cameo appearances from Greg Taylor, Jack Lankester, Liam O’Neil (who nearly repeated his goal from last week), Saikou Janneh and James Brophy which were nice to see, but by this point the game was won.
Although we got three points, at the end of the day the result was unimportant. What really mattered was the fact that this was the first game in a new era at Cambridge United. The Abbey is ours again. After John Howard bought it for a knockdown price back in 2004 with the intention of forcing the club into liquidation so he could develop the land the club was on life support. It was only through sheer bloody luck and the hard work of U’s fans that we survived and Howard’s plans were thwarted, but without a home to call our own the future of the club would always be in the balance.
Now we own the Abbey, and whilst we don’t expect to see any major works on the horizon at least we can begin to plan for a future in CB5.
With Paul Barry at the helm, and Mark Bonner in the dugout, for the first time in 20 years the club appears to be in a good place. Oh, and did we mention we’re above P*sh?!
Man of the Match: Obviously Joe Ironside’s two goals were great, but we like to think outside the box here at UTAS so we’re going with Lloyd Jones. It was a tough call between him and Dunk to be honest, but Jones composure on the ball, and willingness to move it forwards (even if he’s not always 100% successful) shows we’ve got a useful defender on our hands.
Soundtrack of the Match: LCD Soundsystem – Home