Home   Sport   Article

Subscribe Now

Cambridge United earn resolute point against League One table-toppers Portsmouth at the Abbey Stadium





Cambridge United earned a well-fought point against League One table-toppers Portsmouth as the two sides played out a stalemate at the Abbey Stadium.

In a game that yielded few chances, the best fell to the hosts late on in the second half when Jack Lankester’s volley from point blank range was fired straight at Will Norris in the visitors’ goal.

The draw makes it eight league games without a win for Mark Bonner’s men, but their opposition tonight has to be taken into account, and it can be deemed a positive result accompanied by a resolute performance in isolation for the U’s.

Cambridge United's winless run in the league extends to eight games Picture: Simon Lankester
Cambridge United's winless run in the league extends to eight games Picture: Simon Lankester

After they gave Cheltenham Town their first win of the season on Saturday, Cambridge United boss Mark Bonner was always going to tweak his line-up, and he made three changes from the starting 11 at the weekend.

Jack Lankester, Sullay Kaikai and Jordan Cousins came in from the off as George Thomas, Fejiri Okenabirhie and Adam May dropped to the bench.

Meanwhile, it was a landmark night for Liam Bennett, as he made his 50th appearance for the U’s.

Liam Bennett battles to retain possession Picture: Simon Lankester
Liam Bennett battles to retain possession Picture: Simon Lankester

As for the visitors, they came to the Abbey unbeaten in the league and sitting top of the table after their stoppage time 1-0 win at home to Carlisle on Saturday – but Bonner’s opposite number also made three changes.

John Mousinho started with Zak Swanson, Conor Ogilvie and Christian Saydee in place of Joe Rafferty, Jack Sparkes and Tino Anjorin.

Former Cambridge goalkeeper, Will Norris, who was with the U’s from 2012-2017, started in between the Pompey sticks.

The first notable bit of action in the game was an injury to Portsmouth defender Ogilvile, who landed awkwardly after battling for a header. He was replaced by Sparkes which galvanised the Abbey inside the opening five minutes.

Cambridge United played out a stalemate with Portsmouth United Picture: Simon Lankester
Cambridge United played out a stalemate with Portsmouth United Picture: Simon Lankester

Kaikai linked up well with Lankester to fashion a cross from the byline, which forced Norris to tip the ball behind for a corner as it threatened to loop over him into the far corner.

The U’s number 14 was getting joy down either flank in the games’ opening stages and dug out another cross, this time from the right hand side. It fell invitingly to Danny Andrew on the left corner of the penalty area, who bounced a volley into the ground that fell the wrong side of the right hand post.

Cambridge boss Mark Bonner admitted in his pre-match press conference that Pompey would likely see more of the ball and this was the case in the opening half an hour – but they struggled to find a killer pass to unlock an opening in behind a resolute U’s back line.

Cambridge United responded from their defeat to Cheltenham at the weekend with a 0-0 draw against table-toppers Portsmouth Picture: Simon Lankester
Cambridge United responded from their defeat to Cheltenham at the weekend with a 0-0 draw against table-toppers Portsmouth Picture: Simon Lankester

A number of penalty appeals were waved away by referee Declan Bourne as he deemed Paddy Lane and Swanson to have gone to ground too easily in the first half.

But with all their possession, the visitors created the best chance of the contest so far just after the half hour mark.

Abu Kamara’s cross from the left looped fortunately over Jack Stevens and onto the right post but the ball came out to Colby Bishop on the follow up and his effort was blocked brilliantly by Ryan Bennett – who slid in to deny a certain goal for the league leaders.

James Brophy launches an attack for Cambridge Picture: Simon Lankester
James Brophy launches an attack for Cambridge Picture: Simon Lankester

Any attack the hosts could fashion seemed to lose it’s spark and fizzle out due to one or two many passes, when the trigger should have been pulled.

In first half stoppage time, James Brophy had the ball on the right corner of the penalty area, where a chance to unleash an effort arose, but he moved the ball on which caused groans from the fans after they demanded him to shoot.

The half-time whistle blew with nothing separating the two sides. Portsmouth saw 61 per cent of the ball but struggled to break down the Cambridge back line – who stood strong but struggled to gain any momentum in the attacking third as they only registered one shot in the opening 45 minutes.

A cagey first half in which the zorb ball half time entertainment probably caught more eyes.

The visitors flew out the traps in the second half and built a few attacks down the right in quick succession.

Swanson was heavily involved and he was sent through on goal, five minutes after the restart, but he fired his effort from insdie the box straight at Stevens and Cambridge cleared their lines.

Bang on 60 minutes it looked like cometh the hour, cometh the man as a shooting chance opened up for Lane on the edge of the area, who looked dangerous throughout driving through midfield, but his effort sailed over the crossbar to the sarcastic jeers from the home fans.

Frustration from the table-toppers boiled over in the 66th minute as Kamara latched onto a loose pass back before clattering into the Stevens with a late challenge and in the aftermath Pompey skipper Morrell shoved over a Cambridge player.

The home fans demanded a red for both players but the referee only dished out yellows.

As the game grew on and the visitors became more impatient, it was always likely that Cambridge would grow into the game more and they were given a rare chance on 71 minutes - but they should have broken the deadlock with.

After a ricochet in the box the ball fell so kindly for Lankester on the volley who struck his effort from point blank range straight at Norris, leaving the U’s fans wondering how they had not seen their team score.

The hosts built some late half chances in search of a winner as Liam Bennett’s volley from the edge of the area cannoned off a Cambridge leg and flew out for a corner.

In the middle of six minutes additional time, there was still chance for a late winner and that opportunity fell to the visitors.

A deep corner found Biship who channelled a bullet header to the near post and it was parried away brilliantly with a reflex save by Stevens – who kept a well earned clean sheet.

The draw moves Cambridge up one place to 17th in the table, as Portsmouth remain at the summit thanks to Oxford United’s 2-0 defeat away at Wigan Athletic.

Cambridge United: Stevens, Bennett, Andrew, Digby, Morrison (cpt), Bennett, Brophy (95’ Ibsen Rossi), Lankester, Kiakai (67’ Janneh), Ahadme, Cousins.

Portsmouth: Norris, Swanson, Poole, Ogilvie (6’ Sparkes), Roberston, Bishop, Saydee (56’ Anjorin), Morell (cpt), Shaughnessy, Kamara (88’ Yengi), Lane.

Attendance: 6,627 (1,470 Portsmouth)



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More