Cambridge United maintained their unbeaten start to 2021 in Sky Bet League Two with a battling 0-0 draw over Bradford City at the Abbey Stadium.
Mark Bonner made three changes to the side that prevailed 1-2 at Southend United four days earlier. Robbie Cundy returned to the heart of the defence, with Luke Hannant and Wes Hoolahan back in midfield.
United started the encounter cautiously, going easy on their passing on the previously snow-stricken Abbey turf, which was making for tricky conditions and hindering both sides from truly finding their feet as they both looked to maintain their recent impressive form.
The first real opportunity came the way of the Bantams on the 12th minute, where Dimitar Mitov parried away Danny Rowe’s attempt but landed awkwardly in the process, forcing the shot stopper off and switching with Callum Burton between the sticks.
The hosts conjured up a chance of their own on 20. Hoolahan teed up an open Paul Mullin on the edge of the compact area, who connected to the strike with aplomb but was denied by the reactions of Sam Hornby who tipped it over.
Mullin came close once more on the brink of the half hour mark. A slick piece of play was crafted by Hannant, who found an overlapping Kyle Knoyle down the right. The defender cut it back to United’s leading marksman who couldn’t quite get his angles right as it skewed wide.
The U’s were in the driving seat as the first half reached its dying stages, an exceptional piece of play all over the park was concluded by Mullin whose drilled attempt from an angle was denied by an onrushing Hornby on the 36th minute.
With seconds left of the first half, Hoolahan picked out Mullin with a defence-splitting through ball but the striker couldn’t divert it home as Hornby popped up with another important stop to ensure the sides remained deadlocked after a fast-paced half which just lacked that cutting edge.
Whilst the U’s were finding their feet after the break going forwards, they were forced to stay alert defensively as the lively Rowe picked his spot from over 25 yards and released a vicious attempt that stung the palms of a diving Burton on the 49th minute.
As the game wore on, despite the continuation of a real end to end encounter it was becoming increasingly frustrating for either side to break down such stubborn and resolute defences in a spell with little opportunities but plenty of balance.
United were given a lifeline on the 79th minute when Gareth Evans’ exquisite drilled shot remarkably hit the base of both posts before being cleared from an alert Cundy.
Eager to inject some energy to the fold, Bonner brought on a double substitution in Jack Iredale and Harvey Knibbs, with the latter lashing an attempt wide minutes into his arrival.
The U’s, to a man, cleared their lines well during a spell of heavy pressure from the Yorkshire outfit. Ultimately, it was enough to secure a hard-fought clean sheet as they stretched their unbeaten run to five games.
Cambridge United: Mitov (Burton, 16), Knoyle, Taylor, Cundy, Dunk, Hannant (Knibbs, 80), Digby, May, Hoolahan, Ironside (Iredale, 80), Mullin
Bradford City: Hornby, Cousin-Dawson, P O’Connor, A O’Connor, Wood, Watt, Sutton, Clarke (Stevens, 71), Cooke, Evans, Rowe