Liam O’Neil, Wes Hoolahan and Paul Mullin fire Cambridge United to promotion to League One with win over Grimsby Town
Cambridge United secured promotion to League One with a 3-0 win over Grimsby Town at the Abbey Stadium.
Needing a point to clinch one of Sky Bet League Two's automatic promotion places, goals from Liam O'Neil, Wes Hoolahan and Paul Mullin meant they secured second spot.
It was a disciplined first-half display from United.
Head coach Mark Bonner had talked in the build-up about chunking the match down into blocks, and it felt as if they struck to the instructions like glue.
They had the first opening of the match in the sixth minute, with Kyle Knoyle pulling a low ball into the box back to Paul Mullin, whose effort was saved easily by James McKeown.
Grimsby went straight up the other end and Luke Spokes’ cross was headed wide by Rollin Menayese.
There were few chances for either side, but United seemed content to keep it that way.
Giles Coke wrapped his foot around the ball to sky an effort over the bar for Grimsby in the 14th minute, and the next action in the area was United’s opening goal.
They were awarded a free kick on the by-line and Luke Hannant floated a free kick to the back post, and Joe Ironside headed back across goal for O’Neil to swivel on the volley brilliantly to fire into the back of the net.
United continued to exhibit the same control in the second half.
They also had the luxury of a second goal, which came in the 57th minute.
A free kick from out wide on the U’s right, about in line with the penalty area, was curled into the box by Hoolahan and it went through a congested area without a touch to find the bottom corner to make it 2-0.
Grimsby tried to rally but they were struggling to lay a punch on the hosts.
Lenell John Lewis hit over when unmarked in the area and Luis Adlard fired a 30-yard effort straight at U’s keeper Callum Burton.
The obligatory goal from Mullin came in the 80th minute.
The striker drilled a 25-yard free kick like an arrow into the Grimsby net for his 32nd league goal, his 34th in all competitions, to break the division’s scoring record.
Grimsby's Ira Jackson Jr had a free kick tipped over the bar by Burton, but it was of no real concern to the hosts.
As the final whistle went, it mean that the U's are heading back to the third tier of the Football League pyramid for the first time in 19 years.
Cambridge United: Burton, Knoyle, Okedina, Taylor, Dunk, Hannant, Digby, O’Neil, Hoolahan, Mullin, Ironside.
Substitutes: McKenzie-Lyle, Iredale, Drysdale, Alese, Tracey, May, Boateng.
Grimsby Town: McKeown, Hendrie, Green, Coke, Spokes, Clifton, John Lewis, Hewitt, Pollock, Menayese, Khouri.
Substitutes: Battersby, Waterfall, Scannell, Jackson Jr, Adlard, Habergham, Lamy.
Referee: Tom Nield.