There they are! The United of old. Little Old Cambridge, Little Old Cambridge-ing their way to a result against a big spending team. That’s the U’s we know and love.
Mark Bonner stuck with the three at the back formation that served us well up at Lincoln last week, whilst rejigging things in the middle a bit to allow Harvey Knibbs some room to shine behind the front two of Smith and Ironside. There was no room for George Williams, but we did get to see Liam Bennett’s continued growth into the role at right back, and there was a warm welcome for the familiar face of Michael Morrison lining up at the Abbey for the first time in 15 years.
Our opponents were everyone’s favourite ‘big’ club, Ipswich Town continuing their perennial downward spiral with yet another season in League One, having not tasted promotion since the turn of the Millennium. Somehow, they still manage to convince almost thirty thousand people to part with good money to watch the shite they serve up each week, and whilst fifteen hundred of them packed into the South Stand, another five thousand bought tickets for a Cup Final style beamback at Portman Road (although a fair number of them still turned up at the Abbey ticket office thinking they could get in here). And they say they don’t care about us…
Ipswich have spent a huge amount of money this season to try and get out of League One, with two players commanding a seven-figure transfer fee, which means poor old Ed Sheeran is going to have to go back out on the road again to try and fund this kind of insanity. If there’s one good reason to hope for Ipswich to be successful, it’s that it might stop Sheeran recording new music, but I digress.
It was the team in blue that started strongest, attacking United from the off, and in all honesty we didn’t get much of a look in for the first twenty minutes. Our defence soaked up most of the pressure, and eventually the early nerves settled and United found their way into the game. On 24 minutes Harvey Knibbs picked up the ball some 25 yards out, and lashed in a curling shot from outside the area beyond the despairing keeper.
Five minutes later Connor McGrandles run into the box was bought to an end with a cynical foul by George Edmundson, and the ref blew immediately for a penalty when he should have waited a second or two to see if United gained an advantage, which they did as Harvey Knibbs slotted home. Goal disallowed, Joe Ironside stepped up to take the penalty, which was saved at full stretch by Town’s giant keeper.
United had the upper hand and continued to look the better side, and went in at the break 1-0 up. The second half started in much the same way, Ipswich utilising their enormous squad to bring on three fresh faces and it was them who were able to get the upper hand as Freddie Ladapo finished from close range following a Kyle Edwards cross.
United continued to play well and attack Ipswich but were unable to break down a strong defence, whilst holding our own at the back. One slight downside was the loss of Lloyd Jones to injury, but we understand it was just precautionary.
So two games, two draws, but performance wise it looks like the signings in January have had a real positive effect on the side. Ryan Bennett looked class, as did Michael Morrison and the pair of them will be a formidable defensive partnership especially when complemented by Jones. In midfield Connor McGrandles did nothing wrong, and allowed Digby to perform as we know he can.
We’ve got a tough trip to Barnsley coming up, but if we continue to play like we have been in the past two games we could come away with something. The season starts now for us, we’ve got 20-odd games to save ourselves, and we’ve got the coach and players in place to do it. Up the U’s.
Man of the Match: Both L & R Bennett had great games, as did Morrison and Knibbs, but we’ll give it to McGrandles who was imperious in the middle of the pitch.
Soundtrack of the Match: Hard-Fi – Hard To Beat
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