Jeff Hughes’ header secures path to Second Round
Cambridge United opened their 2015/16 Emirates FA Cup campaign with a 1-0 win over Basingstoke Town at the Abbey Stadium, to secure a place in Monday’s Second Round draw.
Jeff Hughes’ 19th minute header and a dominant first half display was enough for United to seal the win against their Hampshire opponents on home soil.
Elliot Omozusi was the only change to the starting line-up that had faced Bristol Rovers in United’s previous fixture, whilst Leon Legge also marked his return from injury with a place on the bench.
Robbie Simpson was presented with a half chance to open the scoring just ten minutes into the fixture, when Jeff Hughes lifted a pass over the top of the visitor’s defence, which the striker glanced with his head on target only to be denied by Aaron Howe.
His strike partner for the afternoon, Barry Corr, also came close when his dummy on the edge of the 18 yard box opened up space for a shot, which he chipped marginally over the cross bar.
However, it was Hughes with his first for the club who broke the deadlock when the Northern Irishman headed past Howe from six yards out, after Harrison Dunk had delivered a precise cross into the box on 19 minutes.
Simpson enjoyed a succession of opportunities to double the lead soon after but was denied on each occasion by Howe in the Basingstoke goal. As the game moved through the midway point in the first half and with a lead under their belts, the U’s looked in the mood to put the game to bed as early as possible.
Howe was forced into another impressive save with 40 minutes on the clock after Harrison Dunk had created a chance for himself with a slip of the shoulder to beat his man, before cutting in to strike a left footed shot at the Basingstoke goalkeeper.
Chris Dunn also made a smart stop to maintain the U’s advantage at the break, denying McAuley’s mid-range effort with a save low to his left and pushing the ball away from Gilkes was bearing down on goal.
Having enjoyed a spell of possession during the latter stages of the first period, Basingstoke re-emerged for the second half with greater belief and certainly asked more questions of the U’s, who were guilty of being sloppy with the ball themselves up to the hour mark.
However, the introduction of Rory Gaffney on 62 minutes re-energised United and his clever touch on the edge of the area saw him beat his marker before drilling a shot low and hard at the feet of Howe.
Former Cambridge United loan player Liam Enver-Marum gave the Amber Army a scare on 69 minutes, when his powerful drive struck the outside of Chris Dunn’s right post. David Ray also came close in the closing stages of the fixture, when he shot from point-blank range to force a superb reaction save from the U’s goal keeper.
The chance proved to be as close as the visitors came to levelling the score, with United doing enough to run the clock down and ensure their name entered the pot as ball number five in the Second Round Draw.
Cambridge United: Dunn, Omozusi (Demetriou, 77 mins), Sesay, Roberts, Taylor, Donaldson, J.Hughes (Newton, 71 mins), Berry, Dunk, Corr, Simpson (Gaffney, 62 mins)
Basingstoke Town: Howe, Salmon, Bird, Harper, Gasson, Ray, Soares, Southam, McAuley (Enver-Marum, 65 mins), Flood, Gilkes (Macklin, 66 mins)
Attendance: 2,974 (266 away)