Cunnington goal keeps U's rolling
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.
MayIClaim Man of the Match: Luke Berry
Attendance: 2,599 (away 27)
Referee: Mr Craig Hicks.
FULL TIME: CAMBRIDGE UNITED 1-0 GATESHEAD
16.51: Gateshead throwing men forward in the final minutes, but to no avail, the final whistle goes! United win again, keep a clean sheet again, and maintain their position at the top of the league. Happy days.
16.47: Free kick Gateshead in a good position, Coulson fouling Boyes. Maddison will line this up 30 yards out but curls his effort wide.
16.46: Five minutes to be added, not really sure where he's got that from. Oh well.
16.43: YELLOW CARD. Great chance for 2-0 there, Donaldson plays the ball into Appiah, who nut-megs Clark delightfully but sees his shot pawed away by Bartlett, good save. Tait tries to continue the attack, but loses out and as O'Brien tries to break he brings down the visiting left-back. Yellow card.
16.39: Now a free kick in a good position for Gateshead, near the right corner of the box. Maddison was the man fouled by Taylor, not sure that was much of a foul. Anyway, Turnbull crosses, in comes a header from someone and Maxwell claims fairly comfortably. LUKE BERRY the MAYICLAIM Man of the Match. Well done to him.
16.38: YELLOW CARD. Dunk yanked by Curtis, who'll go in the book for persistent fouling. United with a free kick in the corner, in it comes by Appiah heads over.
16.36: Final U's change sees Berry replaced by Spillane.
16.31: Adam Cunnington's afternoon is over the United goalscorer being replaced by Greg Taylor. This will mean some shuffling, Dunk going to the left-wing, and Donaldson up front alongside Appiah.
16.26: Wow, how did that stay out. Wicked cross from the left finds Boyes unmarked in the six yard box, but somehow he guides his header wide when anything on target was a certain goal. Meanwhile Chandler is on his way off, Cummins his replacement.
16.24: YELLOW CARD. Today's attendance: 2,599 (away 27). And there's the first booking, Champion brought down by Maddison as he looks the break. That's a yellow card for the substitute.
16.21: Change for United, with Liam Hughes coming on for Nathan Arnold, who just shot disappointingly wide from a narrow angle when a cross might have been better.
16.18: Rare confusion in the U's box as Maxwell charges off his line to get an O'Brien cross but can't get there, and Dunk heads it behind under pressure from Maddison. The resulting corner is met by Clark, but the defender is pushing and that's a U's free kick.
16.16: Double change for the visitors, Boyes and Maddison on for Marwood and Walker.
16.14: Crowd cranking the noise up as Dunk sends Donaldson away down the left. He sprints into the box but sees his low shot well saved by Bartlett. United soon have the ball back, and attacking down their right, with Arnold finding Tait, who wins a corner off the covering Clark. Unfortunately this is well cleared by a Heed defender.
16.10: Cunnington fouled by Curtis, free kick U's 30 yards out in a central position. Donaldson takes but strikes it disappointingly wide.
16.08: Not much happening so far in the second half. Berry and Appiah have both been down after robust challenges, while Dunk made a good block to stop a Chandler shot.
16.00: Back underway at the R Costings Abbey Stadium, United leading 1-0.
HALF TIME: CAMBRIDGE UNITED 1-0 GATESHEAD
15.44: One minute to be added, don't think either physio has been on yet. United can feel quite happy with their half's work, will perhaps be disappointed to have only one goal to show for it though. There is the half-time whistle, back in a bit.
15.42: Arnold swings in a big booming cross but Appiah can't get enough purchase on his header and can only guide the ball well wide of the post.
15.37: Good work from Chris Maxwell preserves United's lead: Marwood makes tracks down United's right and cuts the ball back for Larkin, who smashes a low shot goalwards but the United number on gets down brilliantly to parry his effort and Dunk completes the clearance. Gateshead reminding us there that they're far from out of this with the score at 1-0.
15.35: The visitors don't look particularly solid at the back. Yet another loose pass is intercepted by the rapid Appiah, who does well to control and lob a shot over the advancing Bartlett. Unfortunately his aim is just off and it lands on the roof of the net.
15.33: Gateshead register their first shot of the afternoon, Turnbull reaching Chandler's pass and seeing his effort deflected behind by Coulson for a corner, Th
15.28: Brilliant target-man play from Cunnington sees him roll a defender on half way and sprint away before winning a corner despite the attention of two Heed men. In it comes from Donaldson, Berry leaps highest but sees his goal-bound header well parried by Bartlett, and it spins away off a defender for another corner, which Gateshead manage to clear. Close.
15.23: United with a free kick now after Arnold is fouled by O'Brien, the winger too quick for the left-back there. Free kick is on the right corner of the box, Donaldson to take. Delivery is a poor one though, Appiah gets his head to it but can only flick behind. Goal kick.
15.18: Nearly a second for Cunnington there, as the striker wins the ball off a defender, and works it back to Donaldson. His chipped pass puts Cunnington in the clear, but Bartlett is quickly off his line to smother the shot.
15.15: GOAL CAMBRIDGE UNITED 1-0 GATESHEAD. United in front through top-scorer ADAM CUNNINGTON. Appiah nips in to take advantage of a mix up between Curtis and Clark, and though his shot is blocked by the recovering Clark, he shows good presence of mind to cut the ball back for Cunnington to slam into the empty net. 1-0.
15.12: Tait does well to make some space on the right, cutting in on his left foot and delivering a cross towards Appiah, but the debutant can only flick a header wide, that didn't have the power or direction to trouble Barlett.
15.10: Good play down the Heed left, with Brown reaching the ball in the box and setting up Marwood for a cross which is well cleared by Coulson, visitors enjoying a good spell at the moment.
15.03: Play mostly around the Gateshead area in the opening minutes, United have Donaldson wide left and Arnold wide right. United have a free kick now though thanks to Donaldson advancing down the right, where he's fouled by Turnbull. In it comes and its easily cleared away.
14.59: Teams change ends, United kick off attacking the Newmarket Road End in the first half.
14.55: Here come the teams, United in amber and black and Gateshead in their away kit of all sky blue.
14.52: Last season at the R Costings Abbey Stadium we were 3-0 victors in the league match, goals from Tom Shaw, Josh Coulson and James Jennings. Gateshead got revenge a week later, dumping us out of the FA Trophy thanks to Yemi Odubade's last minute goal.
Cambridge United: Maxwell, Tait, Dunk, Coulson, Miller, Arnold, Donaldson, Champion, Berry, Cunnington, Appiah. Subs: Norris, Taylor, Austin, Hughes, Spillane.
Gateshead: Bartlett, Magnay, O'Brien, Curtis, Clark, Chandler, Turnbull, Walker, Marwood, Brown, Larkin. Subs: Cummins, Boyes, Nixon, Baxter, Maddison.
14.30: TEAM NEWS: Richard Money makes two changes to the side that won 1-0 at Hyde seven days ago, with Tom Champion returning after illness and new striker Kwesi Appiah, who joined yesterday on loan from Crystal Palace, making an immediate debut. Greg Taylor and Michael Spillane make way, meaning Harrison Dunk will be at left-back, with Arnold and Donaldson on the flanks and Appiah alongside Adam Cunnington up front.
One ex-U in the Gateshead team, goalkeeper Adam Bartlett who you may remember made his only appearance in a United shirt in the 2009 play-off final against Torquay.
14.25: Good afternoon folks and welcome to the R Costings Abbey Stadium for Cambridge United against Gateshead. United will be looking for another three points to cement their place at the top of the Skrill Premier Table (sounds good, doesn't it?) but will face a difficult task against a Heed side who have won their last two games and have been buoyed by the arrival of the new boss Gary Mills.