U's back to winning ways
An outstanding performance from two-goal Sullay Kaikai helped Cambridge United claim their first home win since January at the expense of Mansfield Town.
It was Kaikai who opened the scoring in the third minute, when a free kick from distance squirmed through the hands of visiting keeper Sascha Studer. It was 2-0 on the stroke of half-time when Kaikai’s angled drive found the net, and though an error from Josh Coulson allowed Rakish Bingham to net a life-line for the Stags, Tom Elliott sealed the points with a late header.
Kaikai was one of three changes made by Richard Money, with Jordan Slew and Gearoid Morrissey also coming into the side after impressing off the bench at Cheltenham on Tuesday. Greg Taylor, Nathaniel Mendez-Laing and Ryan Bird made way.
And the U’s were celebrating after three minutes as a free kick from 35 yards saw Kaikai take aim and fire in a swerving effort that somehow found its way through Studer’s hands and into the net.
Buoyed by the goal, the first 25 minutes saw United play at a good tempo, moving the ball around and find Slew and Tom Elliott with some intelligent balls forward. They were dealt a blow in the 10th minute when Ryan Donaldson went off clutching his hamstring and had to be replaced by Greg Taylor.
Mansfield grew into the game, but they were unable to find a way through the United backline, and as the U’s finished the half strongly, Kaikai doubled their advantage. The on-loan Crystal Palace man picked up a short corner from Dunk, advanced into the box and curled a shot round Studer and into the far corner. The Stags keep got a glove to the ball again, but was unable to keep it out.
Kaikai continued to torment the visiting defence after half-time, and Elliott should have made it 3-0 when he climbed at the back post to meet a Kaikai cross but could only direct his header wide.
But then disaster struck when Coulson underhit a backpass, allowing Thomas to nip in and slide the ball across for Bingham to fire home.
However, the anticipated Mansfield onslaught didn’t materialise, and United looked comfortable in defence before wrapping up the points two minutes from time. Dunk broke down the left and lifted in a cross which found Elliott, who arrived unmarked to plant a header past Studer.
May I Claim Man of the Match: Sullay Kaikai
Cambridge United: Dunn, Ball, Dunk, Coulson, Nelson, Donaldson (Taylor 10), Kaikai, Champion, Morrissey, Elliott, Slew (Bird 58). Subs not used: Norris, Tait, Mendez-Laing, Hunt, Simpson.
Mansfield Town: Studer, Sutton, Beevers, Tafazolli, Raynes, Ravenhill (Fitzpatrick 63), Brown, Hawkridge (Bingham 45), Clements, Thomas, Oliver (Rhead 45). Subs not used: Pidgeley, Hearn, McGuire, Marsden.
Referee: Kevin Wright
Attendance: 4,667 (away 274)