Cambridge United concluded their preparation for the 2022/23 campaign with a 1-2 defeat against Championship outfit Hull City at the Abbey Stadium...
In a rapid opening to the encounter, Sam Smith finished off a defence-splitting piece of play to hand United the lead. Reinvigorated from the setback, the Tigers latched the equaliser on the stroke of half-time through Randell Williams, before sealing victory on the hour mark through a Tyler Smith penalty.
Owing to it being the final chance to stake a claim ahead of the anticipated return to league football in a week’s time, six changes were made from the side that were defeated by Norwich City in midweek. Continuing to ensure every player of the squad gets critical game time, just defensive partners Jubril Okedina and Lloyd Jones, protector Paul Digby and last season’s top scorers Smith and Joe Ironside kept their place.
United imposed themselves against the youthful Tigers side within the opening minutes, breaking deadlock with 5 minutes on the clock when Shilow Tracey caught the defence sleeping and played in Smith who raced forwards and, despite a slight deflection, navigated home into the corner for his 4th goal of pre-season.
The U’s defensive resolve was tested on the 13th minute when George Wood drove into the right hand side of the penalty area and cannoned an attempt which was bravely blocked by George Williams, only to fall to Vaughn Covil who also couldn’t beat the determined U’s full-back.
Posing problems, United were almost breached just shy of the half an hour mark when Greg Docherty’s pace overpowered an onrushing Will Mannion outside of the penalty area before squaring to a looming T. Smith – with the goal at his mercy, the striker missed the target from 15 yards. A let-off for the hosts, despite defending in their numbers.
Shota Arveladze’s men ended the first half in the ascendency, capitalising on the U’s defence with two minutes of play remaining when wing-back Williams came in off the right and rifled into the roof of the net from close range.
In mirroring fashion to the first period, United almost went firing out of the blocks on 47 – this time not from their own doing when a slight mishap from David Robson forced a corner which was inches wide from trickling in.
Racing down the other end, the boys in white whipped the ball deep from the right into T. Smith who, despite an awkward bounce, connected well – only to be denied by Mannion who got down low before witnessing the flag be raised for offside.
The visitors completed their comeback on the 61st minute when Jake Leake was adjudged to be fouled inside the box, allowing T. Smith to step up and send Mannion the wrong way.
In response, Mark Bonner’s side conjured up their best chance since the goal when Tracey showcased blistering pace to get behind the defence, only to be denied an effort on target by Andy Smith’s last-ditch 73rd minute block.
From here, the changes were rolled - six altogether during a 10-minute spell. United’s paws were now up, they had started to string some neat passages of play, but ultimately couldn’t find a way to break down the Hull backline.
MK Dons are the visitors next Saturday (30th July) for the first clash of the U’s second campaign in the third tier. Be sure to roar the boys on as they look to get the ball rolling and register the points.
Cambridge United: Mannion, Williams, Okedina, Jones, Dunk (Haunstrup, 80), O’Neil (May, 73), Digby, Knibbs (Lankester, 80), Tracey (Brophy, 73), Smith (Janneh, 80) Ironside
Subs Not Used: Holden, Rossi, Taylor, Simper, Worman
Goalscorers: Smith (5)
Hull City: Robson, Elder, Wood, Docherty, Cannon, Mills, T. Smith, Williams, A. Smith, Leake, Covil
Subs Not Used: Fisk, Wallis, Hall, Jacob
Goalscorers: Williams (43), T. Smith (61)
Referee: Chris Pollard
Attendance: 1326 (268 away fans)