Cambridge United’s unbeaten streak for 2021 came to end with a 4-1 away defeat at the hands of Salford City.
The U’s were unable to recover from a poor first half at Moor Lane in which Ian Henderson, Richie Towell and Robbie Gotts put the game beyond United, with Henderson adding another before Paul Mullin pulled a goal back in the second period.
Mark Bonner made a pair of changes from the win at Barrow four days earlier, with Knibbs and Tracey stepping into the team in place of Hoolahan and Ironside.
It was actually the U’s who threatened first, when Luke Hannant placed a 20 yard free kick just past Salford keeper Vaclav Hladky’s right post, before the U’s paceman chipped in a delightful cross minutes later which was almost headed in for an own goal.
However, the hosts looked a real livewire from the outset and when veteran striker Ian Henderson was afforded possession inside the U’s area by a mistake from Jubril Okedina on 19 minutes, the Salford man blasted in an opening goal.
Salford’s second came on the end of a lightning fast counter attack, with Ritchie Towell smashing in an impressive finish from 20 yards to double the Ammies’ advantage just moments after Declan Drysdale had been denied a chance to level at the other end by a tackle from Di’shon Bernard.
And the hosts added a third four minute before half time, when Robbie Gotts was found in behind the U’s back four with enough time to pick his spot underneath Callum Burton.
Paul Mullin and Harvey Knibbs both missed opportunities to pull a goal back before half time that would have made then task in the second period ever so slightly less challenging.
It got worse for United after the break, with Harrison Dunk forced to depart the field following a nasty clash of heads with Salford captain Tom Clarke.
Ian Henderson added his second and fourth for the hosts on 70 minutes, ghosting in to tap home a cross from Ash Hunter.
United pulled a goal back moments later, with Paul Mullin showing excellent composure to chest down Luke Hannant’s delivery and slide in his 20th League goal of the campaign.
But it didn’t inspire a miraculous fightback as the hosts saw out the fixture and ended seven games without defeat in League Two for Mark Bonner’s side.
Salford City: Hladky, Touray, Lowe, Clarke (Eastham, 54 mins), Hunter, Bernard, Turnball, Towell, Gotts, Coutts, Henderson (Asante, 88 mins)
Cambridge United: Burton, Knoyle, Taylor, Okedina (Alese, 65 mins), Dunk (Iredale, 54 mins), Hannant, May, Drysdale, Tracey (Ironaide, 65 mins), Mullin, Knibbs