U's go four clear
Cambridge United went four points clear at the top of the Skrill Conference Premier with a convincing win over second-place Nuneaton Town.
Nuneaton made United work hard in a first half shaded by the visitors, but the U’s extra quality told when Luke Berry broke through to slot in the opener.
minute.thAnd in the second half, as the visitors tired, Kwesi Appiah headed in a free kick to make it 2-0 before Harrison Dunk wrapped things up with a powerful effort in the 89
With Ryan Donaldson absent with an ankle injury, Richard Money made one change to his starting line-up, with Nathan Arnold stepping up from the bench and Mitch Austin taking his place on the bench.
The visitors immediately went on the offensive, showing the kind of energy and skill that has seen them start the season so impressively.
But the U’s looked dangerous too, and after Adam Cunnington had seen a shot saved by James Belshaw they hit the front through Berry. The midfielder played the ball into Nathan Arnold, and race on to receive the return pass. Berry showed good skill to drift past one defender before dispatching a cool finish into the corner.
Nuneatonbossed the rest of the half, and top-scorer Louis Moult will feel he should’ve done better when he found space in the area but put his shot the wrong side of the post.
The visitors also made a fast start to the second period, with United’s goal coming under heavy pressure, though Maxwell was only forced into action once, a diving parry to foil that man Moult.
And as the half wore on United regained control. Appiah was twice denied by Belshaw in the Nuneaton goal before he registered his first for the club. Substitute Micky Spillane’s free kick was placed perfectly onto the head of the Crystal Palace loanee, who nodded the ball into the top corner despite the efforts of Belshaw.
With the R Costings Abbey Stadium rocking, Harrison Dunk applied the final flourish with an emphatic finish after being put in the clear by the impressive Appiah.
The win means United are four points clear at the top of the table ahead of Saturday’s long trip to Wrexham.
MayIClaim Man of the Match: Kwesi Appiah
CambridgeUnited: Maxwell, Tait, Taylor, Miller, Coulson, Champion, Berry (Spillane 70), Arnold (Hughes 52), Dunk, Appiah, Cunnington (Sam-Yorke 61). Subs not used: Norris, Austin.
NuneatonTown: Belshaw, Streete, McNamee (Richens 76), Cowan, Dean, Sleath (Adams 78), Walker, Armson, York, Brown, Moult. Subs not used: Pearson, Bell.
Referee: Mr Wayne Barratt
FULL TIME: Cambridge United 3-0 Nuneaton Town
21.35: Five minutes to be added, not sure where they came from. Appiah heads in a free kick but is offside.
21.34: GOAL CAMBRIDGE UNITED 3-0 NUNEATON TOWN. That wraps it up. Hughes with a ball inside to Appiah, who spots HARRISON DUNK haring forward unmarked on the left. Appiah's pass is right into the winger's path, and he takes a couple of touches before hammering a powerful shot into the net, U's going four clear a the top.
21.32: KWESI APPIAH the MAYICLAIM MAN OF THE MATCH.
21.23: Richens and Adams are on for Nuneaton, McNamee and Sleath the men replaced.
21.22: United nearly make it three from a Nuneaton corner, clearing the danger and breaking with Appiah down the left. He's got two in the centre but his cross is just cut out before it reaches Delano. Corner, which Belshaw punches clear.
21.18: GOAL CAMBRIDGE UNITED 2-0 NUNEATON TOWN. Sam-Yorke chopped down in the corner by McNamee, free kick but no booking. Spillane takes, chipped into the box and KWESI APPIAH climbs highest to nod his first goal for the club into the top corner, boom, United looking good.
21.15: United's last change sees Berry replaced by Spillane. Berry not as involved as he has been of late, but was there when it mattered in the first half.
21.11: Tonight's attendance: 3,740. The vast majority cheer ironically as ref Barratt awards United a free kick. U's free kicks haven't been plentiful tonight.
21.06: U's sub number two sees Delano Sam-Yorke on for Cunnington, and immediately the striker's pressure wins United a corner. It loops in from Dunk and is headed behind. Dunk will trot all the way over to the left to try and outswinger. That doesn't really work either, and Nuneaton head clear.
21.05: Good work again from Appiah, making a yard and fizzing in a low shot which Belshaw turns round the post. U's corner met by Miller but his colleagues can't profit from the knock down.
21.00: Great ball from Hughes finds Appiah wide right. He cuts into the box and tries to bend a low shot round Belshaw, who makes a good save to parry the ball to safety.
20.57: United make their first change, Liam Hughes coming on for Nathan Arnold and taking his station on the right wing.
20.52: Streete wins a header from the free kick but fortunately its straight at Maxwell. The keeper is extended seconds later as Moult takes aim from 18 yards, but Maxi parries to safety.
20.50: Second half underway, and Nuneaton have an early free kick wide on their right as Armson goes down under pressure.
HALF TIME: CAMBRIDGE UNITED 1-0 NUNEATON TOWN
20.31: Into the one minute additional time. In fact, it's come to an end, United lead 1-0 at the break through Berry's goal. Nuneaton have been pressing since falling behind, but so far haven't found a way through.
20.25: Max York causing the U's a lot of problems down the right, he gets to the byline and fires in a low cross which Brown can't force goalwards under pressure from two defenders.
20.19: Nuneaton applying some pressure at the moment, and that's a great chance for Moult. He latches on to Maxwell's punch, side steps a sliding tackle but shoots wide from 12 yards. On target and that was causing Maxwell problems, disappointing finish from the league's top scorer.
20.15: Another free kick into the box, Maxwell gets an unconvincing punch, Sleath picks it up and lofts a shot goalwards but Champion is on hand to flick a header away for a corner. United not alert to the short corner either, but fortunately the visitors can't capitalise and Armson wellies a shot well over.
20.13: Well-worked free kick from Nuneaton reaches Brown, but he hits his shot into the ground and Maxwell makes a reasonably comfortable save.
20.11: Good play from Moult to make space for a cross, fortunately it's overhit. Richard Money on the edge of his techinical area doing that thing managers do where they point to their temples and urge their players to concentrate.
20.07: GOAL CAMBRIDGE UNITED 1-0 NUNEATON TOWN. Lovely stuff, United in front through the man of the moment Luke Berry. Arnold opens up the visiting defence with a pass down the right. It's slightly overhit, but Berry controls, skips past a defender and slides a cool low finish into the corner.
19.59: Untidy defending from the U's after a York cross, but Armson takes aim from 20 yards and shoots high over.
19.58: Good run from Appiah, who breaks from half way after turning out of trouble. He has Dunk to his left but instead goes right to Cunnington, who controls and shots from the edge of the box but sees Belshaw pull off a fairly comfortably save.
19.51: Nuneaton with a corner, but it's over hit and now United will break! Dunk launches it on to Arnold, who takes on his man and gets the cross in which Appiah guides wide. Offside flag was up anyway.
19.48: York with space to operate in on the Nuneaton right, but his cross is just too far ahead of Brown.
19.45: U's get the game underway attacking the South Stand.
Cambridge United: Maxwell, Tait, Taylor, Miller, Coulson, Champion, Berry, Arnold, Dunk, Appiah, Cunnington. Subs: Norris, Austin, Hughes, Sam-Yorke, Spillane.
Nuneaton Town: Belshaw, Streete, McNamee, Cowan, Dean, Sleath, Walker, Armson, York, Brown, Moult. Subs: Pearson, Richens, Adams, Gordon, Bell.
19.30: TEAM NEWS. The U's make one enforced change, with the injured Ryan Donaldson's place being taken by Nathan Arnold. This means Mitch Austin gets a spot on the bench in an otherwise unchanged 16.
No ex-U's in the Nuneaton side. Louis Moult, top scorer in the division with nine goals, is the dangerman, with the likes of Wes York, James Armson and Andy Brown having also been in decent form this season. In fact, pretty much all of the visitors' side has been in sparkling form this term, they've surprised a few.
19.20: Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the R Costings Abbey Stadium for tonight's eagerly anticipated match between Cambridge United and Nuneaton Town. With the U's top of the table and the visitors in second, one point behind, tonight's game is a great chance for one of the teams to strike a blow in the race for promotion.