Stevenage fight back to cancel out U’s two goal advantageCambridge United continued their good form in the Youth Alliance Merit League 2 with a solid point away at Stevenage at the weekend.
The U’s will no doubt be disappointed to have squandered a two goal advantage having led at the interval.
The game started with the hosts setting both the energy levels and tempo of the match, causing United a number of problems in the wide areas, delivering several key crosses that were cleared or poorly executed.
The U’s then began to find their feet in the game but carried little threat and were unable to hurt Stevenage, as well as being overly eager to regain possession by conceding too many free kicks in potentially dangerous areas.
Harry Darling gifted the hosts the perfect opportunity to take the lead from the penalty spot midway through the half, tripping the striker needlessly just inside the box, but will have been extremely grateful to see his goalkeeper Fin Iron spectacularly save the spot kick.
From there the U’s grew into the game and began carrying a real threat. Centrally Ben Worman and Matt Foy were causing problems, whilst Jordan Williams was a real potential game changer on the left hand side.
A terrific move involving all of the aforementioned players, saw the ball arrive at Josh Emmins feet on the edge of the box, having been well picked out by Worman. Emmins made no mistake with a sweetly struck effort which flew past the keeper.
He came close to doubling his tally for the day shortly before the break, when his free kick was saved by the Stevenage keeper, but Joe Neal was on hand to bag his second goal in two games from the resulting loose ball to give the U’s a clear half time lead.
The hosts though were aggressive and wound up from the opening moments of the second half and looked determined to gain momentum in the game. Changing their system to a 3-4-3 formation with a more direct style of play, caused a number of problems for United who were unable to get up the pitch and find a threatening way of attacking themselves.
A dubious penalty was awarded, and this time dispatched, giving the home side the opportunity to search for an equaliser which arrived in the 65th minute and was preventable. The U’s were unable to defend a cross and awarded Stevenage with a simple tap in to level the score board.
Both teams battled hard for a winner as the game became increasingly stretched and open, and United had a golden opportunity to lead again through Emmins, whose effort on an open goal flew over the crossbar.
Stevenage finished strongly and could themselves have secured all three points, but both had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Professional Development Phase Lead Coach Mark Bonner said: “A draw was probably the right outcome upon reflection. Having led, it is easy to say we threw it away, but we were fortunate to be ahead by two at the break and we struggled in the second half for a spell when they had momentum and felt the game slipping away from us.
“Some of our attacking play was good when we had some control and could dictate the tempo, but we were too often wasteful and created too many transitions from either, poor technique, poor selection, or poor timing.
“We lacked some disciplined aggression this week and didn’t defend with the same quality or intensity as previous weeks. We need to get back to this and ensure that we are consistent in that regard.
“There was a visible difference physically and that told in the moments where we were under pressure. These are the experiences we have to learn from quickly to enable us to compete in this league.”
Team; Iron, Shaw, Darling, Williams (Capel 45), J Williams (Tate-Hyde 70), Lea, Bell-Toxtle (Squire 60), Emmins, Foy, Worman, Neal