Simpson stars in superb second half display
An outstanding second half display from the U’s ensured they secured a 0-3 Boxing Day win over Dagenham & Redbridge to extend their unbeaten run to five games in Sky Bet League Two.
A brace from substitute Robbie Simpson and Barry Corr’s 11th goal of the season saw the U’s run out clear winners, in front of a fantastic following from the Amber Army at the Chigwell Construction Stadium.
The U’s had just one change in the starting line-up, with Ryan Donaldson regaining a place in the team, replacing Cameron Gayle who suffered a hamstring injury against Mansfield Town a week earlier.
Despite a feisty start to the encounter, neither side had a clear attempt on goal during the opening 20 minutes. In fact the U’s best moment came when Luke Berry set Ben Williamson away on a counter attacking move, which ended with Conor Newton having a shot blocked from four yards out by Ayo Obileye.
A deflected clearance from Harrison Dunk rebounded into the path of experienced striker Jamie Cureton moments later, however the former Norwich City and Colchester United man could only poke wide of Sam Beasant’s target, in what proved to be the best opportunity of the first 45 minutes.
Manager Shaun Derry was forced into an early substitution for the second week running, when Greg Taylor left the field with a worrying looking leg injury, and was replaced by Elliot Omozusi.
An acrobatic effort from Berry 12 yards from goal fizzed off target for the U’s ten minutes before the break, whilst Ayo Obileye connected cleanly with a shot that hit the cross bar at the other end in the final chance of the half.
United were delivered an early setback in the second period, when Ryan Donaldson was caught late following a clearance which ended his afternoon.
His replacement, Robbie Simpson, took little time to introduce himself to proceedings. The striker was in perfect position to head home Luke Berry’s whipped cross into the box on 51 minutes to send the Amber Army behind the goal into jubilant celebrations.
The goal sparked a frantic spell of pressure from the U’s, with Barry Corr close to doubling the advantage and would have done were it not for a last ditch tackle by Dagger’s Josh Pask with the Irishman bearing down on goal.
However, the U’s took full advantage of their newfound momentum when Ben Williamson was brought down unfairly by Obileye 20 yards from goal in a central position. Brimming with confidence, Simpson promptly claimed responsibility for the set piece and split the wall with a sweet strike that nestled in the bottom right corner.
Simpson’s impact in the game continued and the 30-year old turned provider with 15 minutes to play, when he crossed to the unmarked Corr who headed back across Liam O’Brien’s target for his 11th goal of the campaign which sealed the win for Shaun Derry’s side.
Cambridge United: Beasant, Taylor (Omozusi, 35 mins), Roberts, Legge, Donaldson (Simpson, 48 mins), Berry, Ledson, Newton, Dunk, Corr (Slew, 79 mins), Williamson
Dagenham & Redbridge: O’Brien, Passley, Labadie, Cureton, Vassell (Jones, 65 mins), Hemmings (Doidge, 65 mins), Pask (Dikamona, 90 mins), Dunne, Obileye, Hoyte, Widdowson
Attendance: 2,425 (929 U’s fan)