Mark Bonner’s men concluded an intensive week away in South Wales with a 3-2 defeat against Championship side Cardiff City…
More important minutes were added to the tank, despite United falling to 3-2 defeat in Cardiff.
Goals from James Collins, Max Watters and Joel Bagan condemned the U’s to defeat at the Cardiff International Sports Stadium, but United can take positives from their performance, one of which coming from Harvey Knibbs’ excellent first half header.
After arriving as United’s first summer signing in May, James Holden came into the starting eleven to make his first start of pre-season. Academy youngster Joe Tarpey again was given the nod, starting on the right of United’s four-man defence.
After scoring two quick-fire goals against Watford a week ago, Joe Ironside spearheaded the U’s attack for the first 45.
Despite enjoying the game’s share of possession early on, it was the hosts Cardiff who made the brake through on ten minutes. Striker James Collins was on hand to pounce on a loose ball inside United’s six-yard-box, slotting in under ‘keeper James Holden.
The early goal didn’t dampen the United fans who had travelled spirit’s – nor did it Mark Bonner’s men, who responded well – going close to finding an equaliser just minutes after conceding.
United worked the ball out well to the ever-moving Harvey Knibbs, whose teasing delivery evaded the head of the onrushing Joe Ironside before being headed behind for a corner.
The hosts thought they had doubled their advantage on 20 minutes, after Andy Rinomhota fired in from 20-yards. However, the referee had deemed the midfielder had fouled Joe Tarpey in the build up and United were awarded the free-kick.
United’s patience with the ball was finally rewarded seven minutes before the break as Joe Tarpey’s excellent deep cross was found by the head of Harvey Knibbs – whose header sailed over Phillips in the Cardiff net and into the far corner of the goal.
The half drew to a close in much the same manner in which it started, with United enjoying, and looking comfortable in possession.
The second half saw United return with a fresh line-up, seeing summer signings Saiku Janneh and Brandon Haunstrup introduced – as well as academy prospect’s Kai Yearn and Manadou Jobe. Will Mannion, George Williams, Greg Taylor, Liam O’Neil, Adam May, Jack Lankester and Sam Smith were also all introduced.
Nine minutes into the second half, a much changed Cardiff City side restored their goal advantage after Max Watters met Tom Sang’s cross inside the six-yard-box.
Neat work from Sam Smith ten minutes later presented United with their best chance of the second half so far, as the forward found Saikou Janneh in the area, only for United’s summer signing to be well denied by Ryan Allsop at the ‘keeper’s near post.
The hosts doubled their advantage on 74 minutes after Joel Bagan was on hand to finish off a strong move from the hosts.
United halved the deficit with seven minutes of normal time remaining after Saikou Janneh bursting run through Cardiff defence, left the winger with only Allsop to beat – which he did. Confidently slotting under the keeper.
The U's return to action next weekend as they host Notts County at St. Neots.
United first half XI: Holden, Tarpey, Okedina, Jones, Dunk, Digby, Simper, Tracey, Knibbs, Worman, Ironside
United second half XI: Mannion, Williams, Jobe, Taylor, Haunstrup, O'Neil, May, Yearn, Lankester, Janneh, Smith
Goals: Collins (‘9), Watters (54’); Knibbs (37’), Janneh (89’)