U18S MATCH REPORT: BRISTOL ROVERS 0 CAMBRIDGE UNITED 2A five hour trip to Bristol, 90 minutes at standstill on the M4, arriving 40 minutes before a kick off delayed by quarter of an hour, and changing on the minibus, probably wasn’t on the radar as the ideal preparation for the U’s latest Merit League 2 Youth Alliance fixture on Saturday.
However, they will no doubt be delighted by successive 2-0 victories on the road and looking forward to this week’s double header at home to Yeovil Town and Dagenham & Redbridge.
Understandably, United were slightly slow starting with Rovers on top of the game in the opening exchanges forcing a number of set plays and making it hard for the U’s to find any rhythm, loading the middle of the pitch and stopping the visitors from building any possession.
There were few chances on goal though and Cambridge soon got a foothold of the game by stretching the opposition and gaining ground up the pitch. It was United who had the best chance of the opening period, Joe Neal’s cross just evading Matt Foy, who soon after saw a header from a Josh Emmins’ cross loop over the cross bar.
It was Neal who turned provider for Ben Worman midway through the half, a forward pass from Jordan Williams, excellently flicked on by Neal for Worman to capitalise on a failed clearance and slot under the goal keeper.
Inside the first 30 minutes, United doubled their advantage. This time a Williams’s forward pass flicked on by Bell-Toxtle, for Matt Foy to race clear and find Neal in the penalty box who calmly controlled and found the bottom corner.
The remainder of the half saw United cruising with little quality as the home side’s spirit waned. A rejuvenated U’s came out for the second half and looked determined to extend their lead and should have done so, Foy finishing from a Worman cross which was flagged offside by the linesman much to the frustration of United and the surprise of all in attendance at what can only described as a ‘strange call’.
United pressed hard and but for a good save by the host’s keeper and a combination of some good defensive blocks and poor finishing, should have won by a bigger margin.
At the end of a long day, United arrived back 13 hours from their departure time, but would have no doubt arrived home satisfied with another victory, and a comfortable and dominant performance.
Professional Development Phase Lead Coach, Mark Bonner said: “Our recent tour to France was good preparation for today. Dealing with the imperfect is a good skill to learn, and we did it well. The attitude of the team was good at the start, the professionalism also.
“We didn’t start great but got our way in to the game and deservedly led. Having gone two ahead, we were comfortable and at that point I didn’t like our attitude. We were cruising. There is no time to cruise. I told the players this at half time and was pleased with the second half.
“I thought we were better than the first half despite not scoring. The goal that was chalked off was just the wrong decision. But we played with better intensity and tempo. Our build up and approach play was better and we created some good openings.
“That said, our final third play needs to be better and we have to tidy up with our in possession work. The weight of the pass, the timing, the selection, and the composure to execute the right skill in the moment.
“Overall, it’s a good day following the trip and the circumstances, but not one player will end the day wholly satisfied. There is much more to come….and it needs to come quickly.”
Team; Iron, Jones, Williams, Darling (Knowles 75), Emmins (Shaw 60), Bell-Toxtle, Lea, Foy, Worman, Squire (Mutswunguma 60), Neal