Cambridge United were out-classed by Sky Bet League Two’s leaders Swindon Town, who ran away 4-0 winners at the County Ground on Boxing Day.
An early Eoin Doyle penalty was followed by a hat-trick from Keshi Anderson, with the Robins a cut above United on the day.
The U’s lined up with six changes from their previous fixture against Leyton Orient, as George Taft, Harry Darling, Liam O’Neil, Harrison Dunk, George Maris and Jack Roles moved into the starting eleven.
United were behind inside five minutes as League Two’s topscorer Eoin Doyle slotted a penalty past Mitov, after Keshi Anderson had gone down in a challenge with Taft which looked extremely harsh on the U’s centre back.
Calderwood’s men were fractions away from an instant response when Luke Hannant’s in-swinging cross off the left clipped a Swindon leg and missed the Robins goal by a whisker over the top. Hannant continued to find joy down the flanks early on and Gabriel Zakuani also almost turned in another cross from the U’s man, which this time required a save from Steven Benda in the Swindon goal at the near post.
George Maris cracked a half volley goalwards on 12 minutes which fell straight into the arms of the Robins shot stopper, as United continued to recover well from the early set back and force their way into the game offensively.
Swindon though remained an undeniable threat whenever they moved forward with the ball, and as the half reached the midway stage the hosts began to ramp up the pressure on the U’s back line, who for a period kept the host’s advantage to just the one goal.
That was until the clever movement of Keshi Anderson unlocked United’s defence five minutes before half time, as the tricky forward ghosted in unmarked to get on the end of knock down and clinically finish past Mitov from seven yards out.
If his first finish was precise, Anderson’s second was anything but, as he thundered a powerful shot from 25 yards on his left foot this time which had Mitov rooted to the spot, to complete a quickfire brace in first half stoppage time for Anderson.
Anderson made it a hat-trick on 65 minutes, as he followed up on a block by Harry Darling inside the United 18 yard box to slot in his easiest goal of the afternoon unchallenged from eight yards out.
The remainder of the second half was a far quieter affair with United seeing more of the ball but not able to create any verve in their attacking play to pull themselves back into the encounter, as the table toppers saw off the U’s.
In fact it was the Robins who created the final clear cut chance of the game, when Kaiyne Woolery attacked the U’s box from the left but was denied the chance to extend the winning margin when his fierce drive at goal was stopped by a quick shift of Mitov’s feet to direct it away from goal.
Swindon Town: Banda, Baudry, Yates (Isgrove, 68 mins), Doughty, Woolery (Curran, 88 mins), Iandolo, Doyle, Anderson, Zakuani, Caddis, Grant (Rose, 70 mins)
Cambridge United: Mitov, Taylor, Taft, Darling, Hannant (Knibbs, 73 mins), Dunk, O’Neil, Maris (Dallas, 73 mins), Lewis, Roles (Norville-Williams, 73 mins), Smith
Bookings: Taft, Roles, Lewis