Harrold goal defeats U's in Crawley
Cambridge United succumb to 1-0 defeat against Crawley Town on a wet and windy afternoon at the Checkatade.com Stadium.
Matt Harrold’s first half goal proved to be difference between the sides in Sky Bet League Two, with Luke Berry’s strike which clattered the post in the second half as close as United came to a leveller.
The U’s lined up with three changes to the side that had been beaten by AFC Wimbledon a week earlier, first up Rory Gaffney returning from a successful loan spell at Bristol Rovers and regaining a place alongside Barry Corr. Darnell Furlong made his first appearance for the U’s and the inclusion of goalkeeper Will Norris will have equally caught the eye of the 350 strong Cambridge following, with further information to follow in due course.
The aforementioned Furlong was quick to show why the U’s were keen to acquire his services from QPR, when the young right back produced an outstanding sliding challenge to deny Crawley’s Matt Harrold the chance to shoot from a one-on-one position with Norris early in the match.
United found it difficult to deal with the challenging conditions as they played into a strong wind during the first half, and the hosts took advantage with a string of attacks at the U’s goal. Norris was forced into his first save of the match on 15 minutes, when Ross Jenkins angled a low shot from the edge of the area towards the bottom left corner.
But The U’s held firm and crafted out a golden opportunity on 27 minutes when Corr turned the ball into Rory Gaffney’s path, who beat the offside trap but was unable to finish past Red Devils goalkeeper Darryl Flahavan inside the 18 yard box.
Conor Newton then also took a stab at goal from an awkward position moments later, with his effort nestling into the net but the wrong side of post.
However, the hosts broke the deadlock ten minutes before half time when Harrold slid in from seven yards out to poke the ball past Will Norris from Ross Jenkin’s initial strike on the 18 yard box.
A fine save from Norris late in the first half stopped the Red Devils from doubling their lead, when the U’s shot stopper leaped across his goal to push away Edwards’ whipping free kick.
Despite the sides returning to the field in the driving rain, United were soon on to the front foot. Luke Berry came within the width of the post from equalising when he ran on to a loose ball 30 yards from goal and let fire an outstanding right footed shot that crashed against the upright.
On the hour mark Rory Gaffney flashed a shot across goal, when the Irishman was in prime positon to pick up Barry Corr’s flicked header on, as the U’s continued their hard fought search for a leveller.
Conor Newton came close with a well-timed volley in a central position 20 yards from goal but the former Rotherham United man’s effort fizzed wide.
However, for the remainder of the clash the Red Devils frustrated the U’s who were unable to break down their opponents and secure an equalising goal.
Attendance: 2,320 (501 away)
Cambridge United: Norris, Furlong, Legge, Roberts, Page, Berry, Ledson, Newton, Dunk, Gaffney (Simpson, 76 mins), Corr
Crawley Town: Flahavan, Walton, Bradley, Edwards, Barnard (Rooney, 90 minutes), Young, Ashton, Harrold, Tomlin (Bawling, 77 mins), Jenkins, Smith