Second half goals from Aaron Collins and Jamille Matt resigned Cambridge United to a 2-0 away defeat in Sky Bet League Two against a lively Forest Green Rovers.
United made just one change from their impressive midweek win over Gillingham in the Papa John’s Trophy, with Wes Hoolahan returning to the starting XI in behind Paul Mullin.
Up against a Rovers side in hot form sat in the League Two top three, and the U’s were issued an early warning when Aaron Collins pulled a shot from 18 yards fractions wide of Callum Burton’s near post in two minutes.
United withstood an early spell from the hosts with good defensive organisation, and probably should have taken the lead on 14 minutes. Paul Mullin dispossessed the hosts in midfield and promptly made a run in behind where he was found by Hoolahan, however his delicate chip over keeper Luke McGee came back off the cross bar. Luke Hannant’s follow up was then cleared from close range.
For much of the remainder Mark Bonner’s side were made to stay rock solid in defence and show a high level of organisation, as the hosts dominated possession and probed the final third.
But the U’s stuck their task well, blocking spaces to stop passes through and Robbie Cundy and Harry Darling clearing almost everything delivered into the area.
Callum Burton’s only action of the half saw him down quickly to push away a stab at goal from Odin Bailey, who was given the only real clear sight of goal inside the U’s area of the half. Collins fired another shot from range which again missed the target by a small margin, as the U’s saw out the half unblemished.
The U’s keeper was required to make a point blank save to deny Jamille Matt whose header from three yards out looked certain to break the deadlock in the early stages of the second period.
However, United’s resistance was broken on 56 minutes when Collins was fed a ball in behind United’s defence where he rounded Burton and passed the ball into the net.
The challenge double for United eight minutes later when Forest Green were awarded a penalty after a late challenge from Kyle Knoyle, which Matt sent Burton the wrong way with having been denied moments earlier by the U’s keeper with another close range header.
Mark Bonner’s side quelled Forest Green’s offensive pressure but were unable to craft a chance that could give them hope of a route back into the match, until Robbie Cundy missed from a promising position deep into added time, as United fell to their third away defeat of the campaign.
Forest Green: McGee, Bernard, Sweeney, Stokes, Adams, Collins (Whitehouse, 90 mins), Cadden, Matt (Stevens, 77 mins), Bailey (Wagstaff, 77 mins), Godwin-Malife, Richardson
Cambridge United: Burton, Knoyle, Cundy, Darling, Dunk, Davies (Knibbs (71 mins), Digby, Taylor (May, 71 mins), Hannant (El Mizouni, 81 mins), Hoolahan (Iredale, 81 mins), Mullin