Cambridge United returned to winning ways after five games without, thanks to Adam May’s superb strike that saw off Wimbledon at Plough Lane…
After a tense and scrappy first half, United clicked into gear in the second and took the lead within a minute of the restart with May’s curling effort from distance. The U’s never looked like giving up their advantage and took another huge step to consolidating their place in the third tier next season.
Mark Bonner named just one change from the team that narrowly lost out to the Dons of Milton Keynes a week ago – with Adam May coming in for Liam O’Neil who missed out with a dead leg.
Played in-front of a capacity Plough Lane crowd, the anxiety felt inside the ground following a wretched run of form that has seen the hosts fall into a relegation battle, translated onto the pitch as the game got off to a scrappy start with neither side able to wrestle control of the contest.
It was the home side who were dictating terms though, with Wimbledon enjoying the majority of the ball and territory, but the U’s had their wits about them defensively as they dealt with everything that they were faced with inside the opening 30 minutes. A glancing header that fell wide of the post from Henry Lawrence was as close as the Wombles came.
United’s attacking threat was minimal until the 35th minute, when Brophy led a counter-attack down the left hand side before swinging a teasing cross towards the back-post, which Osew did well to defend on the cover by chesting it back to his goalkeeper.
Osew then had a shot for himself on the 39th minute after good work from Cosgrove to get in-behind, but Digby was well positioned to make the block before United eventually cleared the danger.
Cambridge’s only other moment up the other end came after Jones broke through the lines before playing Dunk through on the overlap, and when the challenge came in the ball ricocheted dangerously back towards the Dons goal, but safely into the goalkeepers hands.
If the first got off to a slow start, the second half couldn’t have been more different. Just 50 seconds in, the U’s went on the attack and after Ironside kept the play alive with a simple pass back to Adam May who was lurking 25 yards out, the midfielder found the top corner with another wonder strike to add to the collection to put United 1-0 up.
Smith came close to a second 10 minutes later as he arrived late into the box to latch onto a chipped cross, but his header flew just over the Wimbledon crossbar.
With just over an hour gone, Cosgrove should have equalised for the hosts as he turned smartly inside the box before firing into stands.
It was an all-action second half and only a goal-line clearance by Heneghan denied Smith at the second time of asking with his head, as he threw himself towards a deep cross and directed the ball back across goal, only to see it clawed off the line just in the nick of time.
It would be Smith’s final action of the match as he was soon replaced by Hoolahan before Tracey came on for Knibbs.
Aside from a turned-down penalty appeal with just under ten minutes remaining, the home side failed to turn the screw with what was left of the game, despite seven minutes of added time following a lengthy stoppage in play due to an injury to Cosgrove.
A huge three points for the U’s as they march onto 48 points and surely all-but secure their place in Sky Bet League One for next season.