Cambridge United came out with a memorable 4-5 win on penalties against Brentford at Griffin Park, to progress into the second round of the Carabao Cup and set up a tie with Swansea City later in the month.
Marc Richards put the U’s on the board early doors with United's first goal of the season, before Brentford cancelled the strike out in the second half through Marcus Forss, as the U’s more than matched their Championship opponents. Calderwood’s then showed terrific steel to complete the job on penalties with a pair of saves from Callum Burton on debut and the winning spot kick from fellow debutant Harvey Knibbs.
Colin Calderwood made no less than seven changes to his side, with the likes of Harrison Dunk, Harry Darling, Callum Burton and Louis John all set for their opening competitive action of the season.
The U’s shot out the blocks and were ahead inside three minutes, when Andrew Dallas was the most alert inside the Bees area to claim a loose ball and square into the path of an unmarked Marc Richards who took two attempts to neatly beat Luke Daniels in the Brentford goal and open the scores.
The hosts were less clinical with a similar chance of their own at the other end of the pitch three minutes later, when Jan Zamburek found Joel Valencia 12 yards out who could only fire his shot well over the top of Callum Burton’s target.
Valencia did force Burton to make a stop a quarter of an hour into the tie though, when the tricky forward wriggled free of a U’s tackle before hitting a low shot at the feet of the United keeper who claimed the effort comfortably. Burton was equal to Emiliano Marcondes’ dipping free kick from 20 yards out midway through first period too, watching the testing effort with full concentration to protect United’s one goal advantage.
Harrison Dunk, marking his 300th competitive game for the U’s, had a strong claim for a penalty waved away when he knocked the ball beyond the reach of Josh Clarke and hit the deck.
Dunk brushed himself down and made a crucial block in his own box minutes later to ensure his body was in the way of what looked a certain leveller by Marcus Forss.
Andrew Dallas has a late opening to potentially double United’s lead before the break, as he spotted Daniels off his goalline and attempted an audacious chip but added a touch too much power to the creditable effort.
After half time Callum Burton made a smart save at his near post to deny Valencia, however Calderwood’s men continued to look well-organised and prevent the number of clear opportunities for the hosts.
In fact it was the U’s who carved the next genuine chance of note when Dallas bust through the Brentford defence and into the 18 yard box before seeing his shot saved one on one by Daniels, and Luka Racic produced a stunning sliding interception to cut out George Maris’ rebound shot that looked destined to increase United’s lead.
Burton’s assured performance continued when the keeper reacted quickly, diving to his left to get two hands to a volley by Bryan Mbeumo inside the U’s area.
However the U’s keeper was powerless to stop Marcus Forss levelling with 20 minutes to play, when the striker found himself in the right place to bury a deflected cross by substitute Ollie Watkins into the U’s net from eight yards out.
Rico Henry went within a whisker of flipping the scoreline in the space of three minute, as the right back pulled the trigger on a curling shot whistled past the U’s far post.
Colin Calderwood introduced the fresh legs of Dan Jones and Luke Hannant as the game approached the final 15 minutes, in an attempt to sure up United who were under increasing pressure from their Championship opponents.
It did just the trick as United held out for the remainder of the tie to take it down to a penalty shoot-out to decide the team progressing into the second round draw.
United showed superb composure in the shoot-out, with Luke Hannant, Reggie Lambe, Harrison Dunk, Harry Darling and finally Harvey Knibbs netting as Callum Burton saved twice to ssecure their progression into the next round.
Brentford: Daniels, Thompson, Yearwood (Canos, 53 mins), Forss, Valencia, Marcondes, Mbeumo, Clarke (Henry, 32 mins), Dalsgaard, Zamburek (Watkins, 63 mins), Racic
Cambridge United: Burton, Davies, John, Taft, Darling, Dunk, Lambe, Lewis, Maris (Hannant, 72 mins), Richards (Knibbs, 60 mins), Dallas (Jones, 72 mins)