U's edged out in close affair
A late first half goal from Jordan Bowery ends Cambridge United’s 2015/16 Captial Cup campaign at the first hurdle, with Rotherham United taking the spoils 1-0 despite a bruising performance from the U’s.
Having controlled large periods of the first half at the New York Stadium, a sickening late header from the Millers proved to be enough in a tight fixture in South Yorkshire.
United boss Richard Money opted to make six changes to the side that begun the club’s 2015/16 Football League campaign in the 3-0 over Newport County at the Abbey Stadium four days earlier.
Elliot Omozusi, Greg Taylor, Danny Carr, Luke Berry and George Taft all made their first competitive starts of the season, whilst Chris Dun returned in goal for the U;s having missed the majority of pre-season with an ankle injury.
Despite the fast natured tempo to the game due to an immaculate playing surface at the New York Stadium, it was the U’s who controlled the early stages of the match. Berry and Keane pulled the strings in midfield, whilst Slew and Simpson chased every ball doggedly to keep the U’s in a comfortable area of the pitch.
Chances however were few and far between; Berry’s long range effort which cut wide of Kelle Roos’ left post on 13 minutes the first real effort of note. The strike did breed further confidence into the U’s who were seeing plenty of the ball.
A flicked header by Robbie Simpson gave Slew an opening on 15 minutes, but the former Rotherham loanee was unable to steer his effort on target.
The first real clear opportunity for the Millers fell to Derbyshire on 25 minutes, striker met a Ledesma cross with a diving header that the returning Chris Dunn was able to catch comfortably.
However Steve Evans’ side pushed on and began retaining possession of the ball far better than they had in the opening 20 minutes of the game, which saw them carry more of an attacking threat.
The U’s battled well with their Championship rivals though and wrestled back momentum ten minutes before the break, with a good spell of possession once more.
Richard Money’s men could therefore be considered unfortunate to have gone down the tunnel at half time a goal down, with Rotherham striker Jordan Bowery heading home from two yards just seconds before referee Chris Sarginson blew his whistle.
The goal had flipped the tie on its head, with Rotherham returning from the interval a different beast. Bowery, Ledesma and Derbyshire and stretched United early and fired shots away at Chris Dunn’s goal within six minutes of the restart.
The United keeper produced a fine save on the hour mark, diving low to his left showing superb reactions to tip Derbyshire’s flick off target and out for a corner.
Wary that the Rotherham flow of pressure may lead to a decisive goal, U’s Manager Richard Money made a triple substitution with Donaldson, Dunk and Newton introduced to proceedings, and Taylor, Carr and Simpson playing out their final contributions to the tie on 63 minutes.
The changes certainly had the desired effect, with the U’s immediately enjoying their first extended spell of possession of the half and with 20 minutes to play, that meant they were well in with a chance of getting themselves back into the fixture at just 1-0 down.
Back-to-back corner kicks for United with seven minutes left on the clock seemed the perfect opportunity, but the U’s were unable to profit and the Millers cleared the danger.
Richard Money’s men persevered and following intricate play, the man whom the U’s had signed from Rotherham a month earlier Conor Newton, lashed a low drive on target that Roos did well to save.
Five added minutes gave the U’s additional hope of a late comeback but it was a hurdle too far, and it was in fact Rotherham who came closest to another when Danny Ward broke up field and flashed wide of Dunn’s goal.
Rotherham United: Roos, Buxton (Richardson, 75 mins), Collins, Frecklington, Ledesma, White, Halford, Bowery (D.Ward, 79 mins), Newell (G.Ward, 73 mins), Derbyshire, Smallwood
Cambridge United: Dunn, Omozusi, Taylor (Dunk, 63 mins), Keane, Roberts, Berry, Slew, Coulson, Simpson (Donaldson, 63 mins), Carr (Newton, 63 mins), Taft
Attendance: 4,568 (408 away)