@vinylperez takes a look at two massive Bank Holiday games for the U’s
Well well well, is the Great Escape on? In his recent interview to fans CEO Alex Tunbridge said that one team always puts a run together at the end of the season, and why couldn’t it be us. I scoffed somewhat at the suggestion, but have spent my weekend eating humble pie instead of Easter Eggs as United stretched their unbeaten run to three straight games.
Let’s start with Fleetwood on Friday then. Dimi Mitov was the surprising name in the XI, claiming his place back from Will Mannion who might have been a little aggrieved to have lost his spot after a clean sheet at Port Vale. Jack Lankester got United off to the best possible start with a superbly curling shot that has to be a goal of the season contender.
Mitov almost gifted Fleetwood an equaliser shortly after, his famously suspect kicking coming back to haunt him, coupled with him almost handling outside the box, but somehow we scraped through. Lankester was controlling the game, although Fleetwood’s centre forwards of Jack Marriott and Jayden Stockley were trying their best to make things difficult for the United defence.
The second half saw United continue to play well, and after a couple of penalty calls were waved away, fortune finally smiled on us as James Brophy went down in the box. Softly? Scott Brown thought so, but who really cares. Sam Smith dispatched the penalty with ease and the Abbey erupted.
Lankester came off with ten minutes remaining as we got to see some more of Fejiri Okenabirhie, and Fleetwood almost instantly scored to create a nervy ending. Bonner used his subs to load the defence and thankfully we saw the game out for three points.
On to Bolton on Monday then, and it’s always a difficult place to go. It was an almost full house as a cheap entry promotion coupled with them just winning the Papa Johns Trophy bought the fans out in full force. United themselves took almost 800 on a miserable day to a stadium we’re yet to win at, which is a great effort there.
Bolton looked a little tired, and United executed a brilliant game plan to contain their attacking players. We packed our own midfield, restricting Bolton’s space and frustrating them. Up front, United were a little wasteful, unable to convert a number of chances.
Just when it looked like a point would have been a good return from the game, we were sucker punched by a goal. To tell the truth it had been coming, Mitov’s save being pushed back out into the path of Declan John to finish for Bolton. Back to square one.
There would have been times in the past where that would have been it, heads drop, game over. But to our credit the team responded well, Bonner making a triple sub of Dunk, Tracey and Lankester, and then adding to that with five minutes remaining by bringing on Fejiri and Big Joe. United chased and chased, and Okenabirhie almost teed up Ironside with a chance minutes from the end, but his header went well wide. It was Okenabirhie yet again who’s mazy run was stopped by a clumsy Bolton foul right on the edge of the area. Fejiri claimed it was just inside the box, but the ref (rightly) gave a free kick. Lankester floated it in, Smith got the touch, and pandemonium erupted high up in the stands as the ball nestled in the back of the net.
Three games unbeaten then, and United are having a real go of staying in the division. We might well still go down, but by God Mark Bonner is proving me wrong with some of the performances we’ve seen lately. Okay, we’re still not the most convincingly amazing football team in the division, but the tactics, the heart and the fight have been spot on lately.
Next up is a visit from that lot up the road, they’re in pretty good form right now, but as the old cliche goes form goes out the window during derby games. In the history of Cambs derbies there won’t be many bigger than this, as both teams fight for the points they need, United to close the gap on safety, P*sh to try and cement themselves in the play-offs. If there’s anyone you want speaking to the players before a game like this, it’s Mark Bonner – he’s a fan, he knows what the rivalry means, and most importantly he hates B*ro.
Keep The Faith, it’s not over yet.
Men of the Match(es): Fleetwood: Lankester, Bolton: Smith. We know what Lankester can do, and he showed it against Fleetwood with one of his best games in a U’s shirt. Sam Smith has taken a lot of flack this season, and there’s definitely been times he’s been looking with one eye at his next club. His head seems to be fully in the fight these last few games though, and his goals have backed that up.
Soundtrack of the Matches: Grace – Not Over Yet
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