Cambridge United were unable to profit from a dominant first half performance, as Salford City clinically put the U’s away, winning 0-4 at the Abbey.
A brace from Adam Rooney and an excellent finish by Ashley Hunter effectively ended the contest on 55 minutes before Ibou Touray added a fourth late on, with the U’s left to rue what had been a missed opportunity after a positive opening half.
The U’s made two changes from their encounter with Morecambe four days earlier, with Dan Jones replacing Harrison Dunk, and Idris El-Mizouni making his first start in place of Jack Roles who missed the clash through injury.
Looking to follow up on the more positive second half display against the Shrimps, United had the ball in the back of the Salford net on five minutes with Victor Adeboyejo pulling a cross back on to the head of Paul Lewis. The effort was chalked off though with the former adjudged to have carried the ball over the byline before passing the ball, which looked extremely tight.
The U’s continued to show good intent as the half progressed, Adeboyejo testing Kyle Letheran in the Salford net with a swerving half volley which the Ammies keeper just about held on to in the 22nd minute.
A brilliant cross Dan Jones off the left was met cleanly by Paul Lewis who did everything right heading back across goal but find the target, as the ball slithered past the top corner.
Idris El-Mizouni impressed for much of the first half on his first start for the U’s, and was unfortunate not to score on the half hour mark with a fierce strike from 25 yards that Letheran got fingertips to, directing it over.
United were then dealt an absolute sucker punch, with Bruno Andrade breaking down the right to cross into Adam Rooney who beat his man at the front post to volley in from eight yards on 33 minutes.
The U’s remained undeterred from the setback and went back on to the front foot with El-Mizouni once again testing Letheran but the keeper once more keeping a firm grip on the Tunisian’s effort from 18 yards. Having dictated play for much of the first 45 minutes, United will have been wondering how they went down the tunnel at half time behind, but the visitors made them pay for missed chances after the break.
The challenge mounted for the U’s on 51 minutes, when Greg Taylor was deemed to have tripped Thomas-Asante inside the 18 yard box by referee Chris Pollard. Adam Rooney stepped up for the Ammies and sent Mitov the wrong way to double the visitor’s lead.
It got worse moments later when a Salford free kick was initially cleared by the United defence, but the ball was recycled with a looping cross over to Ashley Hunter who delivered a clinical finish on the volley to make it three.
Adeboyejo flashed a header wide of the near post on the hour, but United’s forays forward were now far less frequent and in fact Rooney at the other end went closer to completing his hat trick but dragged a cut back from Hunter off target.
Dimi Mitov denied Ritchie Towell the chance to extend the Ammies’ advantage, diving wildly to push over the Salford’s subs long range attempt.
The Bulgarian was caught off guard in the final minute though by left back Ibou Touray, who smashed a shot inside the near post when shaping for a cross, adding a fourth for the visitors in another disappointing fixture at the Abbey for United.
Cambridge United: Mitov, Knoyle, Taylor, Darling, Jones (Dunk 71 mins), Maris (Lambe, 77 min), Lewis, O’Neil (Hannant, 71 mins), El-Mizouni, Knibbs, Adeboyejo
Bookings: O’Neil, Lewis
Salford City: Letheren, Wiseman, Touray, Rooney, Burgess, Baldwin, Pond (Hogan, 18 mins), Andrade, Thomas-Asante (Armstrong, 66 mins), O’Connor (Towell, 71 mins), Hunter
Bookings: Thomas-Asante, Andrade
Attendance: 3,444 (78)
Jackson Fire & Security Man of the Match: Idris El-Mizouni