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11 April 2015

U's denied by late leveller

Seamus Conneely’s last-minute equaliser denied Cambridge United three points against Accrington Stanley.

Ryan Bird’s deflected goal ten minutes from time looked set to give the U’s their first home win since January, but Conneely was on hand to beat Will Norris with a powerful effort and ensure the spoils were shared.

Earlier, Tom Elliott had taken advantage of a defensive mix-up to open the scoring, before similarly charitable play from the U’s back-line allowed Stanley top-scorer Pietro Mingoia to level things just before the break.

Norris was the only change to the U’s team that beat Northampton, making his first start in goal at the expense of Chris Dunn, who dropped to the bench. 

And United made a high tempo start, with the front six pressing their Accrington counterparts back at every opportunity.

They were rewarded in the eighth minute, when Coulson’s long ball forward swirled in the breeze, allowing Elliott to get in between Davies and Atkinson and guide a looping header into the net.

For much of the half the U’s dominated proceedings, with the likes of Champion and Bird throwing themselves into challenges, and Ball providing a useful outlet down the right. His cross found Bird in the 35th minute, but the striker headed well wide.

Accrington offered little to trouble Norris, but were gifted an equaliser five minutes before half-time when Nelson’s attempted clearance on half-way hit Taylor and rebounded to Mingoia, who sprinted clear before firing across the keeper and in.

And the visitors could have taken an early lead in the second period, but Norris did well to save from Maguire after Joyce’s clever through-ball. The follow-up shot from Windass was blocked by a combination of Ball and Coulson.

The introduction of Sullay Kaikai, who replaced the injured Ryan Donaldson, gave United a lift, and Kaikai was inches away from making it 2-1 when he scampered past the last defender but saw his shot beat Davies and fall the wrong side of the post.

But the Newmarket Road End was celebrating ten minutes from time as Bird latched on to Ball’s long throw from the right after flicks from Kaikai and Morrissey, and beat Davies with the aid of a deflection.

That looked like sealing the victory, but Conneely had other ideas, and United will go to Cheltenham on Tuesday looking to get back to winning ways.

May I Claim Man of the Match: Ryan Bird

Cambridge United: Norris, Ball, Taylor, Coulson, Nelson, Mendez-Laing (Morrissey 53), Dunk (Hunt 70), Champion, Donaldson (Kaikai 55), Elliott, Bird. Subs not used: Dunn, Tait, Simpson, Slew.

Accrington Stanley: Davies, Hunt, Buxton (Liddle 61), Atkinson, Jones, Mingoia, Bruna (Naismith 76), Joyce, Conneely, Maguire, Windass (McCarten 70). Subs not used: Warner, Gilchrist, Barry, Whitehead.

Attendance: 5,569 (away 59)

Referee: Christopher Sarginson

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