U18s REPORT: Northampton Town 0 Cambridge United 2The young U’s produced a strong performance and returned to winning ways on a bobbly playing surface at Moulton College last Saturday in Youth Alliance Merit League 2.
United started the game superbly well, getting about their opponent with energy and enjoying long spells of possession, working the hosts from side to side as they built possession and momentum.
This early spell of pressure was rewarded in the eighth minute, Joe Neal finishing expertly inside the penalty box after some good link up play from Matt Foy, who held off the defender with his back to goal before pulling the ball back to the lively Neal to slot inside the far post.
Cambridge pressed well and chased the Cobblers at every opportunity to rush them into mistakes and turnovers, whilst continuing to look threatening on their regains of possession through the front three of Neal, Worman and Foy.
Northampton looked threatening when they gained set plays or were able to stretch United out with longer forward passes or diagonal balls, but offered little in terms of goal threat in the first half.
Cambridge had the perfect opportunity to extend the lead in the opening minute of the second half, Foy chasing down the full back before running away with the ball charging on goal. Having been scythed down, Foy had the chance to score from the spot but dragged his penalty wide of the post.
This gave the home side some impetus and sprung them into life. The second half saw them find more intensity to put United under more pressure. There was one opportunity missed for an equaliser which should have been the leveller, along with a large number of crosses and corners which led to nothing, were well defended, or comfortable for keeper Macree.
As a young United tired and sat deeper, the changes in formation firstly to a 3-5-2 and then for the remaining ten minutes to a 5-4-1 system, allowed Northampton more of the ball, but they found it hard to carve open any significant chances.
The U’s sealed the points in the 89th minute, as Ben Worman chased down the full back and robbed him of the ball before pulling it back in the box as the ball eventually fell at the feet of Harry Lea to excellently power home a finish from the edge of the 18 yard box, much to the delight of the players and coaching staff.
Professional Development Phase Lead Coach Mark Bonner said: “We deserved that. We started the game really well, with some confident and controlled possession and deservedly led through an expertly taken goal. I thought we showed good intensity in the first half and really good control. Our energy levels were good.
“In the second half, we missed an early chance to double the lead, but didn’t lose our spirit. We had to show real endeavour as the half progressed and defended the box well.
“We must continue to develop the skills under pressure to defend without being angry and frantic, but that said, against a team who were frustrated, we were calm, controlled and mature.”
He continued: “The second goal came after an intense period of defending and was a super finish. The reaction of the players shows the spirit that is developing and the mentality that is becoming stronger. There is a greater resilience in this team than earlier in the season and the player’s self-esteem is increasing. This is clear in their everyday behaviour and most apparent on the pitch.
“We have four games remaining and will look to continue on this path. The reaction from last weekend’s disappointing performance and result has been pleasing, we have to now avoid the need to react again this season by hitting the highest levels of mentality and performance of which we are capable. If we do that, results will follow.”
Team; Macree, Jones, Darling, Williams, Tate-Hyde (Shaw 75), Lea, Squire, Neal, Worman, Foy, Emmins Not Used; Bell-Toxtle, Boddey