U18S REPORT: Newport County 2 Cambridge United 1
Cambridge United finished the Merit League 2 campaign in Wales with a disappointing defeat at the hands of Newport County.
The U's started in sluggish fashion, failing to deal with County's direct approach, and the hosts duly took the lead in the opening quarter of the game, capitalising on a defensive error. They doubled their lead before the break this time racing onto a long pass and lifting the ball over Fin Iron.
A resurgent United reformed for the second half and pulled a goal back in the first five minutes. Joe Neal finishing well from a Matt Foy cross. But the home side tried to frustrate Cambridge, and run the clock down with some expert time wasting and ball boy antics.
United failed to maintain momentum, lacked quality and movement in the attacking half to muster up anything more than a few half chances.
The defeat was the U's first in five games, and brought the season to a close. With the final standings of the Merit League 2 table confirmed, United will no doubt be pleased with a second place finish in what was much improved second half to the season.
Coach Mark Bonner said: "Our first half performance was well short of the standards we have set in recent weeks. We carried little to no threat with the ball, lacked energy, and looked defensively weak and vulnerable for the first time in a while.
“We showed weakness at the core of the team and didn't deal with direct play at all well. That was targeted all afternoon. We weren't good enough in the first half and deserved to be behind.
“The second half was much improved and more like us. We scored early but couldn't find another goal and struggled to carve open many chances.
“Newport killed the game in the second period and slowed the game down. The ball was in play for little time. We gave them a chance to kill the game with our first half performance. We can get frustrated by the opposition, the officials, anything we want. But we need to be more concerned by us.
“And we need to stop thinking that 'enough is enough'. Enough is never enough. We have more in us and didn't get to the level quick enough today.
“We've been good in the last few weeks, but have shown there is plenty to do to become a proper team and to deliver consistency to the level required if individuals are to make the progress that is necessary."
Team: Iron, Knowles (Shaw 55), Darling, Williams, Emmins, Lea, Squire (Watkins 55), Bell-Toxtle, Worman, Neal, Foy