Taylor goal defeats Cambridge in a close game at the Kassam Stadium
A first half goal from Ryan Taylor resigned Cambridge United to a 1-0 defeat against high flying Oxford United in a tight Sky Bet League Two affair at the Kassam Stadium.
Despite a solid first half display, the U’s found themselves a goal behind at the break and were unable to claw the deficit back in the second period.
Manager Shaun Derry made four changes to the side that had beaten Basingstoke in the Emirates FA Cup a week earlier at the Abbey Stadium. Mickey Demetriou and Leon Legge returned in defence, whilst Conor Newton and Rory Gaffney also reclaimed starting spots in the side.
The hosts started the game the quicker of the two teams, with Chris Dunn forced into an early save when Danny Hylton headed to his left from close range. Cambridge responded hastily with a chance of their own two minutes later, when Rory Gaffney met Ryan Donaldson’s fierce delivery with his head to give Oxford keeper Benji Buchel an early test.
A lively start to the game continued when Alex MacDonald fizzed a low drive at the Cambridge target on six minutes, but Dunn again showed sharp reactions to push the effort away from his goal.
Harrison Dunk came closest to opening the scoring for the U’s with a shot from inside the area that skidded across goal and past the far post midway through the first half, following good initial work by Gaffney who was making a real menace of himself.
However, it was the home side who took the lead when Macdonald burst behind the U’s defence before pulling a pass back to Ryan Taylor on the penalty spot who scored with 30 minutes on the clock.
Luke Berry was unable to find the target with his head moments later, as Cambridge looked for a quick response in the match but the home side held on to their lead going into the half time break.
Despite a split in possession during the early stages of the second half, the U’s were finding it tricky to create opportunities on goal, and Derry introduced Jordan Slew shortly before the hour mark to give additional strength to the Cambridge attack.
The first chance of the half fell to the hosts who hit the underside of the cross bar when Chris Dunn slipped when in possession of the ball on the edge of the area. A frantic spell of play followed, with captain Mark Roberts twice denying Oxford the opportunity to double their lead.
A breakaway move from Conor Newton and Barry Corr gave Ryan Donaldson a good opportunity to strike at goal from the right side of the Oxford six yard box, but he was denied by a block from right back Joe Skarz.
Two late attempts on target for Corr and one for substitute Robbie Simpson were all cleared off the line by a scrambling Oxford defence, which proved to be as close as the U’s came to levelling the scores.
Cambridge United: Dunn, Sesay, Legge, Roberts, Demetriou (Simpson, 83 mins) Donaldson, Newton (J.Hughes, 73 mins), Berry, Dunk, Corr, Gaffney (Slew, 58 mins)
Oxford United: Buchel, Baldock, Skarz, Roofe, Mullins, Sercombe, Hylton, MacDonald, Lundstram, Taylor, Dunkley
Attendance: 6,958 (568 Away fans)