Cambridge United turned on the style with three second half goals to see off Aldershot at the R Costings Abbey Stadium.
United didn’t play to their best in the first period, but took the lead in stoppage time through Luke Berry’s header.
Kwesi Appiah made it 2-0 just after the restart, and United were in command once Adam Cunnington had slotted in the third. Substitute Nathan Arnold added gloss to the score-line with a fine individual effort.
Berry and Harrison Dunk returned to the starting line-up as Richard Money made two changes to the side beaten at Southport. Berry took the place of Mickey Spillane, while Dunk came in for Mitch Austin.
United had plenty of possession in the first half, but found it difficult to break down the massed ranks of the visiting defence. With just Brett Williams stationed up front, the Shots showed why they have proved such difficult opponents on the road this season, getting nine men behind the ball at every opportunity.
That said, the visitors created the better chances when they did break forward, Chris Maxwell saving sharply from Jordan Roberts after the winger’s neat turn caught the U’s defence napping. Greg Taylor had to be alert to block Williams’ follow-up.
Maxwell also saved from Williams at his near post after a slip from Josh Coulson, but as the half progressed United got stronger, winning a series of corners without troubling visiting keeper Jonathan Henley.
But they finally made the breakthrough in stoppage time at the end of the first half, after Appiah had seen a shot pushed behind by Henley. Tait’s delivery found Berry arriving at the back post, and his downward header bounced up and into the net.
The goal gave the U’s confidence, and they started the second period on the front foot, doubling their advantage in the 54th minute through Appiah. The on-loan striker had missed a gilt-edged chance to score seconds earlier, shooting weakly at the keeper after a mistake from Webster. But from the resulting corner he was in the right place to slot home after Berry’s shot came back off the post.
With the R Costings Abbey Stadium rocking, United poured forward and Hughes dashed down the right, before playing the ball inside to Berry. Though he was tackled the ball ran to Cunnington, who slotted the ball home through the keeper’s legs.
Money rang the changes, bringing on Delano Sam-Yorke, Nathan Arnold and Kevin Roberts. Arnold’s pace tormented the tiring defence, and he added a fabulous solo fourth goal, controlling on the edge of the box and wriggling past three defenders and smashing a low shot past the exposed Henley.
The win takes United seven points clear at the top of the table after Kidderminster’s draw with Macclesfield. The U’s travel to Barnet on Saturday.
MayIClaim Man of the Match: Liam Hughes.
Cambridge United: Maxwell, Tait, Taylor, Coulson, Miller, Hughes, Dunk, Champion, Berry (Roberts 69), Cunnington, Appiah (Arnold 67). Subs not used: Norris, Austin.
Aldershot Town: Henley, Butler, Goodman, Webster, Barker, Roberts (Paterson 77), Mekki (Gibbs 77), Rowlands (Young 57), Stanley, Williams, Oyeleke. Subs not used: Douglas, Williams.
Attendance: 3,110 (away 156)