Cambridge United marched back to the top of Sky Bet League Two with a precious 0-1 win over Newport County at Rodney Parade...
Declan Drysdale’s debut goal for the Club was enough for the U’s, who completed a double over the Welsh side for the season with another hard fought victory.
Mark Bonner named two changes to his side, as Declan Drysdale returned to the centre of the defence and Luke Hannant started in midfield.
A high intensity first 45 minutes shot out the blocks, with both sides displaying attacking intent from the get go.
The first chance fell the way of the U’s when Paul Mullin clipped a cross into strike partner Joe Ironside, who wrestled off his marker Liam Shephard to make contact with his head but couldn’t get the better of Exiles keeper Townsend at close range on seven minutes.
Less than a minute later, Callum Burton was required for his opening action of the clash, calmly watching Josh Sheehan’s 25 yard strike onto his gloves low down to his right and parrying the ball wide. He showed an equal measure of alertness to ensure a piledriver by Aaron Lewis also didn’t find its way past him on 11 minutes, with the hosts turning the pressure up on Bonner’s men as the half approached the midway stage.
United were up for the challenge though, and aside from a looping Scott Bennett effort shortly before the break that landed on the roof of the net, their goal remained largely untroubled in a scoreless first half.
Bonner’s men begun the brighter after half time, and were unfortunate not to take the lead from Luke Hannant’s cleanly struck attempt from 20 yards, which had the beating of Townsend but was flicked onto the cross bar by former United loanee Mickey Demetriou.
Mullin rolled into a shooting position on 50 minutes, but on his weaker foot his effort was an easy one for Townsend to grasp.
The U’s continued to apply the pressure and had their best chance of the match on the hour mark. Hannant’s delivery to the far post fell to an onrushing Ironside who directed it back across goal, where Mullin was unable to sort his feet in time to turn it into an empty net, instead hitting the base of the post.
Burton denied Josh Sheehan for a second time in the contest with 20 minutes to play, as the United keeper got across quickly to tip a free kick by the Exiles midfielder around the post.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 78th minute and momentum swung firmly the way of the U’s, as Wes Hoolahan delivered a looping set piece in from the right hand side, which sat up perfectly for Drysdale to attack and direct into the Newport net.
It set up a tense final ten minutes for Bonner’s men who were made to fight hard to hold on to their lead. But they did so manfully and moved back up to top spot and within touching distance of promotion from the division.