Berry penalty secures maximum points for U's
A late Luke Berry spot-kick gave United a hard fought 1-0 victory over Dagenham & Redbridge at the Abbey Stadium, to move the U’s within one point of the Sky Bet League Two play-offs places.
Shaun Derry’s side were forced to graft hard for maximum points, with captain Berry keeping a calm head to slot home the winner in the 81st minute.
The U’s lined with one change to the side that began the fixture at Leyton Orient, with Jimmy Spencer making his first start for United in place of Ryan Donaldson. New loan signing Shane O’Neill took up a place on the bench.
With a strong wind swirling through the Abbey Stadium, it took both sides a little while to settle into the game. United’s first opportunity arose with Harrison Dunk producing a moment of quality when hurtling up the left wing and delivering an excellent cross, but James Dunne was unable to find the target against his former loan club.
Joss Labadie headed wide following a Luke Guttridge free kick soon after, in the Dagger’s first opening of the game.
As the wind continued to dictate proceedings, Will Norris and Josh Coulson combined to keep Ashley Hemmings and Ashley Chambers’ quickfire efforts away from goal, shortly before the midway point in the half.
Shaun Derry’s side had a huge claim for a penalty waved away on 23 minutes, when James Dunne seemed to have been clattered by Joe Worrall inside the 18 yard box, only for referee Carl Boyeson to award a free kick.
Another marauding run from Dunk on 34 minutes carved open the Dagenham defence, before the winger passed inside to Berry who looked in prime position to open the scoring, but Mark Cousin pulled out a fine stop low to his left.
A deft flick on from Coulson inside almost gave Leon Legge the chance to register in front of the South Stand, however Cousins was again on hand to make a brave save for John Still’s side and ensure the game remained 0-0 at half time.
The conditions continued to have a real bearing on the match in the second period and when Ryan Ledson’s cross fell onto the top of the cross bar and back in to play, it looked as if Williamson was perfectly placed to head home, only for Widdowson to pop up and deny the striker.
However, despite early pressure from the U’s, the game progressed into a scrappy affair. Jimmy Spencer’s volley from 12 yards, after Williamson had cleverly flicked on to his strike partner, dribbled wide of the mark and was as close as the U’s came.
Cousins pushed away an effort from James Dunne with 13 minutes to play, after the former Portsmouth man had forced his way past two Dagenham defenders and pulled the trigger.
United’s persistence was rewarded with nine minutes to play however, when substitute Robbie Simpson showed sharp reactions to beat Joe Worrall to the ball in the Dagenham box before being clattered by his opposite number.
Captain Berry took responsibility from 12 yards and slotted the ball calmly into the bottom right corner to break the deadlock and register the decisive goal in the fixture.
Cambridge United: Norris, Furlong, Legge, Coulson, Page, Berry, Ledson (Donaldson, 62 mins), Dunne, Dunk, Spencer (Simpson, 72 mins), Williamson
Dagenham & Redbridge: Cousins, Passley, Labadie, Chambers (Jones, 89 mins), Doidge (Hopkins, 86 mins), Muldoon, Guttridge (Cureton, 86 mins), Hemmings, Worrall, Hyam, Widdowson
Attendance: 4,494 (258 away)