Adam Cunnington’s first half goal saw Cambridge United see off Gateshead to maintain top spot in the Skrill Premier.
Cunnington swooped to fire home after good work from new signing Kwesi Appiah, who was lively on his debut.
Appiah, Cunnington, Luke Berry and Ryan Donaldson all went close to adding further goals for the U’s, while at the other end the defence kept a sixth successive clean sheet. Chris Maxwell made one great save to deny Colin Larkin, while Adam Boyes somehow missed an open goal in the second half.
Boss Richard Money made two changes to the side that won 1-0 at Hyde last week, handing a debut to striker Appiah, who signed on loan from Crystal Palace on Friday. He replaced Greg Taylor, with Harrison Dunk dropping back into defence and Nathan Arnold into midfield. The other change was more straight-forward, with Tom Champion taking Michael Spillane’s place in midfield.
From the off it was apparent that Gateshead boss Gary Mills is trying to get his new team playing the neat, passing football that he employed successfully during his time at York City. But his new charges didn’t always look comfortable on the ball, and it was a mistake in the visiting defence that led to United’s 16th minute opener.
Curtis and Clark appeared to have the situation under control, but Appiah nipped in to win the ball, and though his shot was blocked by the recovering Clark, he kept his composure well to roll the ball across for Cunnington to blast into the net from six yards.
Cunnington could have had a second shortly afterwards, as he reached Ryan Donaldson’s through ball but saw visiting keeper Adam Bartlett race off his line to block his shot. Bartlett also saved well from Luke Berry’s header, while at the other end Chris Maxwell was forced into one superb low save, diving to his left to parry Colin Larkin’s well-struck shot.
The lively Appiah then got in round the back again, but could only lob a shot onto the roof of the net.
United came under more pressure after the break, with Gateshead going more direct in a bid to get back into the match.
Maxwell’s goal somehow survived when substitute Adam Boyes arrived unmarked, but headed wide from six yards when it looked easier to score.
There were still chances at the other end, with Ryan Donaldson cutting in from the left and seeing a shot well saved by Bartlett. Then in the closing stages Donaldson set Appiah free, but after nut-megging Clark his shot was pushed away by the Heed keeper.
So 1-0 it finished, and United can go to Alfreton on Tuesday looking to cement their position at the top of the pile.
Cambridge United: Maxwell, Tait, Dunk, Coulson, Miller, Arnold (Hughes 65), Donaldson, Champion, Berry (Spillane 80), Cunnington (Taylor 75), Appiah. Subs not used: Norris, Austin.
Gateshead: Bartlett, Magnay, O'Brien, Curtis, Clark, Chandler (Cummins 72), Turnbull, Walker (Maddison 61), Marwood (Boyes 61), Brown, Larkin. Subs not used: Nixon, Baxter.
Referee: Mr Craig Hicks.