Cambridge United opened their pre-season fixture schedule with a 1-3 win against Fulham at the Cottagers Training Ground, Motspur Park.
A brace from Jabo Ibehre and a goal from Harvey Knibbs at close range gave the U’s a first half lead, which they held on to despite a much stronger second half from the hosts who scored through Luca De La Torre.
Ibehre opened the scores on seven minutes when the striker was quick to pounce on an underplayed back pass from the Cottagers, and he coolly slotted past Bettinelli from 12 yards out with his right foot.
The U’s showed good shape and discipline and restricted the host’s number of clear cut opportunities, with Tyrese Francois and Floyd Ayite dragging a pair of Fulham efforts wide of Callum Burton’s goal.
Ibehre’s curling attempt from midrange was comfortable for Bettinelli midway through the half, the Fulham keeper could do very little to stop the U’s doubling their advantage soon after though. Quick thinking from a hastily taken free kick between O’Neil and Norville-Williams allowed Tom Knowles the opportunity to slide a neat pass across the six yard box for Knibbs to finish off at the back post on 31 minutes.
Ibehre again showed the quickest reactions inside the Cottagers area a minute before the break, and slammed home the U’s third with his laces, and were it not for an excellent outstretched save from Bettinelli, Tom Knowles’ whipped free kick on the stroke of half time looked certain to make it four.
Both sides switched personnel for the second half and it became a much tougher defensive task for the U’s with the likes of Tom Cairney increasing the quality of Fulham’s attack.
Left winger Neeskens Kebano was a real handful for United to deal with in the second period too, and came within fractions of pulling a goal back when his drilled shot towards the near post clipped the outside side netting. He did create the Cottager’s only goal of the game though, fizzing a cross into De La Torre who made clean contact with his shot to beat Mitov from six yards.
A fine save from the U’s Bulgarian shot stopper, tipping a superb curling effort by Cairney from the edge of the area onto the cross bar, kept the two goal advantage intact for United. Colin Calderwood’s men did enough to soak up the growing Fulham pressure for the remainder of the game to hold on and come away with a win.
Next up United travel to Nottingham Forest to face their U23s next Friday to conclude their third week of pre-season.
Cambridge United XI First Half: Burton, Knoyle, Taylor, John, Trialist, Knowles, Lewis, O’Neil, Norville-Williams, Knibbs, Ibehre
Cambridge United XI Second Half: Mitov, Davies, Darling, Taft, Dunk, Worman, Lambe, Hannant, Trialist (Bennett, 60 mins), Neal, Knibbs (Darcy, 60 mins)
Fulham XI First Half: Bettinelli, Christie, Odoi, Le Marchand, Mundle-Smith, Francois, McDonald, Edun, Ayite, Harris, Santos-Clase
Fulham XI Second Half: Rodak, Sessegnon, Mawson, Opuku, Bryan, De La Torre, Cairney, O’Riley, Kebano, Harris (Rui Fonte, 60 mins), Santos-Clase (Kamara, 60 mins)