A five-star performance from Cambridge United saw them get back to winning ways with a convincing win over Carlisle United.
Three goals in 20 first half minutes put the U’s in command, with Issa Diallo opening the scoring with a powerful effort from outside the box. Diallo then turned provider, crossing for Robbie Simpson to nod in his first of the season, and just before half-time Simpson made it three, side-footing in from a Tom Elliott cross.
United then saw out the second half in comfortable fashion, and added two further goals when substitute Jayden Stockley marked his debut with a pair of well-taken headers in the final ten minutes.
New signings Michael Nelson and Matteo Lanzoni were handed immediate debuts in a reshuffled U’s back-line, while Liam Hughes came into the starting line-up at the expense of Harrison Dunk, Simpson replaced Kwesi Appiah in attack.
And United spent much of the first 25 minutes on the back-foot as the Cumbrians enjoyed the majority of possession. Shots from David Amoo and Anthony Sweeney flew well over, while a number of corners and free kicks were repelled.
Chances were few and far between for the U’s until Diallo opened the scoring with his first goal in amber and black in the 25th minute. Picking up a pass from Hughes in a central position 20 yards from goal, the Senegalese midfielder took aim and smashed a low shot into the corner beyond Gillespie’s reach. It was an impressive finish from Diallo, who celebrated joyously in front of the main stand.
Though Brad Potts shot over when well placed shortly afterwards, the momentum was with United, who doubled their lead on 33 minutes. A corner from the right was cleared as far as Diallo, who curled in a cross which was perfect for Simpson, who did well to guide a looping header over Gillespie and into the corner.
Elliott’s shot on the turn was saved by Gillespie, while Simpson punched the turf in frustration when he could only shoot weakly into the arms of the keeper after fine approach play from Ryan Donaldson and Greg Taylor.
However, the former Leyton Orient striker did much better in the 45th minute, seizing on a loose pass from the visitors and finding Elliott on the right. Simpson then raced into the box to guide a side-footed finish past Gillespie from Elliott’s low centre.
By contrast, the second half was less eventful, with Dunn remaining untroubled by Carlisle’s anaemic attack. Elliott flashed a header wide from Donaldson’s cross, but there was little other goal mouth action until substitute Stockley, on in place of man-of-the-match Simpson, bagged a quick-fire double in the last ten minutes.
First he beat Gillespie to a high cross from Greg Taylor to head into the corner in the 82nd minute, before meeting a delicious free kick from another sub, Bobby-Joe Taylor, to guide the ball into the net and send the Newmarket Road End into raptures.
May I Claim Man of the Match: Robbie Simpson.
Cambridge United: Dunn, Lanzoni, G Taylor, Coulson, Nelson, Hughes, Donaldson (BJ Taylor 85), Champion, Diallo (Chadwick 61), Simpson (Stockley 75), Elliott. Subs not used: Norris, Tait, Lennon, Hurst.
Carlisle United: Gillespie, Grainger, Symington, Thirlwell, O’Hanlon, Amoo, Brough, Sweeney, Potts (Gillies 60), Paynter (Dempsey 69), Marriott (Elliot 45). Subs not used: Dicker, Hanford, Rigg, Douglas.
Referee: Mr C.Berry
Attendance: 3,512 (away 366)