Bird swoops twice to give United advantage
Ryan Bird’s double means Cambridge United take a slender lead into the second leg of the FA Trophy semi-final.
Bird set United on their way with a confident finish in the 21st minute, and made it 2-0 in the second half when he headed home a Greg Taylor cross. The U’s dominated throughout, but Grimsby grabbed a lifeline in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Lenell John-Lewis headed home.
With Harrison Dunk and Ian Miller added to the U’s injury following Tuesday’s defeat to Alfreton, Richard Money made three changes to his starting line-up, with Pugh, Bird and Ryan Donaldson replacing Dunk, Miller and Matthew Barnes-Homer.
United chose to kick into the strong wind, and it became apparent just how much of a factor the conditions would be when Grimsby kicked off and immediately launched a long ball which flew straight over Will Norris’ cross bar.
It was the U’s who had much the better of the first half, with Pugh and skipper for the day Kevin Roberts forming a good combination down the right. Luke Berry had a decent penalty shout waved away by the referee when the ball appeared to rear up and hit Clayton McDonald on the hand, before United hit front in the 21st minute.
Pugh won the ball on the right and played a pass into the feet of Bird, who took a touch before firing a low shot across the goalkeeper and into the far corner.
All the Mariners could muster in response was a header from Lenell John-Lewis that looped over the cross-bar, and United could have added to their lead through Berry, who almost finished a delightful passing move with a diving header, but saw his effort from Roberts’ first-time cross flash wide.
Nine minutes into the second half it was 2-0, after some great football from the U’s: Donaldson found Taylor on the overlap, and his chipped cross was perfect for Bird, who headed past McKeown.
It took a good block from Chris Doig to deny Bird a hat-trick as he shot from eight yards, while Berry went close twice from long distance, his second effort requiring McKeown to make a decent diving save.
Grimsby threw men forward in the closing stages, and were rewarded when they won a stoppage time corner. It was floated in from the right, and John-Lewis climbed to win a header, which crept into the corner to leave the tie nicely poised for the second leg in a week’s time.
May I Claim Man of the Match: Ryan Bird.
Cambridge United: Norris, Roberts, Taylor, Hughes, Coulson, Champion, Berry, Donaldson, Pugh (Tait 79), Elliott (Arnold 90), Bird. Subs not used: Sullivan, Austin, Gillies.
Grimsby Town: McKeown, Hatton, Fyfield, Doig, McDonald, Disley, Kerr (Neilson 70), McLaughlin (Thanoj 81), Rodman, John-Lewis, Cook (Tounkara 76). Subs not used: Thomas, Hannah.
Referee: Mr D.Bond
Attendance: 3,264 (away 1,023)
FULL TIME: CAMBRIDGE UNITED 2-1 GRIMSBY TOWN.
16.52: GOAL CAMBRIDGE UNITED 2-1 GRIMSBY TOWN. Grimsby have a lifeline in the fourth minute of stoppage time. LENELL JOHN-LEWIS meets a right wing corner and his head creeps into the net, Norris appeared to think it was going wide. Disappointing finish to a game which United completely dominated, but we still have a one-goal advantage going into the second leg.
16.48: United make another change, Nathan Arnold replacing Tom Elliott. Four minutes to be added.
16.46: Rubbish tumble in the box from Tounkara, the referee isn't interested.
16.42: Berry's low shot from distance almost catches McKeown out, but the Mariners' keeper backpeddles and turns it round the post. Corner, which Donaldson takes but overcooks, Elliott and Berry can't connect.
16.39: Final Grimsby change sees Thanoj on for McLaughlin. They have a corner too, as Neilson's cross is stopped by Roberts. However, it's not a great delivery and Bird heads away.
16.36: United's first substitution will see Andy Pugh replaced. Richard Tait on and it's a straight swap as he slots in on the right of midfield.
16.33: Here comes another Grimsby change, Cook going off, Tounkara his replacement.
16.30: Berry has a shot blocked after a lightning United break, then goes for goal from 25 yards but is a couple of feet wide.
16.26: YELLOW CARD. Free kick Grimsby as John-Lewis is tripped on the edge of the box by Hughes. Hatton fires it into the wall, but the ref isn't happy and books Luke Berry for encroachment. Hatton will try again, but his second shot is also charged down. The Mariners decide it's time for a change, and replace Scott Kerr with Scott Neilson.
16.17: Bird close to his hat-trick as Donaldson retrieves a deep Elliott cross and sends the ball back into the box. The on-loan striker's low shot is goal-bound, but blocked by the leg of Doig.
16.12: GOAL CAMBRIDGE UNITED 2-0 GRIMSBY TOWN. United double their lead after a concerted spell of pressure, Donaldson's reverse pass finding Taylor in space on the left, and he dinks a ball into the box which is perfect for RYAN BIRD to plant a header past McKeown. Lovely.
16.07: Really good chance for Ryan Donaldson to double United's lead. McKeown's punch from a Pugh hanging cross isn't the best, and falls to Donaldson, but from just inside the box he skies his shot over when an on target effort would have surely made it 2-0.
16.03: Second half underway, no changes to either side.
HALF TIME: CAMBRIDGE UNITED 1-0 GRIMSBY TOWN
15.46: That's half-time, and United lead thanks to Bird's goal. Good value for their lead too, in fact it's a shame we only have one goal to show for our efforts.
15.39: Grimsby using the wind well this time, flighting a free kick into the box which flicks behind off a sea of heads. Corner, but United clear and Berry does brilliantly to feed Donaldson, who sprints down the left and cuts into the box before Thanoj and Hatton between them crowd him out.
15.30: Fine football from the U's, Pugh to Bird, who controls in the box and spots Roberts behind him. United's right back fires in a teasing first time which is perfect for Berry, who dives and flicks a header just wide.
15.26: Grimsby struggling to measure their passes with the strong wind behind them, but that's a decent cross from Hatton and John-Lewis leaps to flick a header over the cross bar.
15.21: GOAL CAMBRIDGE UNITED 1-0 GRIMSBY TOWN. As the rain starts to fall United hit the front through RYAN BIRD. Pugh wins the ball back and plays it through to Bird, who finds a bit of space on the right side of the box and dispatches a fine low finish across McKeown and into the far corner.
15.14: YELLOW CARD. McKeown punches clear under pressure from Tom Elliott, but as the U's attack again the striker is scythed down by McDonald. No doubt that's a free kick and a booking. Taylor lofts the set piece into the box but it's headed away.
15.10: Berry races on to an Elliott pass, tries to take the ball past McDonald in the box only for the defender to block with his hand. Not much intent there, and the ref isn't interested in giving a penalty despite Berry's protests. Pugh latches onto the loose ball but his shot is blocked by three covering defenders.
15.05: Couple of U's corners, the second of which is headed down by Hughes but cleared by Disley near the post. Hughes retrieves and finds Donaldson on the left flank, he cuts in and shoots by McKeown makes a comfortable save from his low shot.
15.01: Kick off, United playing into the wind, attacking the South Stand. Grimsby immediately launch the ball over Will Norris' cross bar into the NRE.
14.55: The teams last met ten days ago here at the R Costings Abbey Stadium, with the Mariners triumphing 2-1 thanks to goals from John-Lewis and the aforementioned Neilson. Luke Berry hit the U's reply.
Cambridge United: Norris, Roberts, Taylor, Hughes, Coulson, Champion, Berry, Donaldson, Pugh, Elliott, Bird. Subs: Sullivan, Tait, Austin, Arnold, Gillies.
Grimsby Town: McKeown, Hatton, Fyfield, Doig, McDonald, Disley, Kerr, McLaughlin, Rodman, John-Lewis, Cook. Subs: Thomas, Neilson, Hannah, Thanoj, Tounkara.
14.30: TEAM NEWS. United make three changes, with Ryan Donaldson, Ryan Bird and the recalled Andy Pugh coming into the starting line-up at the expense of Ian Miller and Harrison Dunk (injured) and Matthew Barnes-Homer (cup-tied). Richard Tait is back on the bench after missing Tuesday's match with Alfreton, and alongside him is Mitch Austin, back from a loan spell at Lincoln City.
Grimsby are without Shaun Pearson, who is suspended, while Scott Neilson, who scored the winner here in the league match, is on the bench. No ex-U's in their squad, though our former goalkeeper Jonathan Hedge is out warming up with the Mariners players.
14.15: Afternoon everybody and welcome to the R Costings Abbey Stadium for Cambridge United vs Grimsby Town. It's FA Trophy time once again, and with a Wembley final awaiting the winners of this two-legged tie, it's all to play for.