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Cambridge United get League Two campaign off to flying start with victory over Carlisle United

Paul Mullin scored Cambridge United's second goal against Carlisle United. Picture: Ben Phillips
Paul Mullin scored Cambridge United's second goal against Carlisle United. Picture: Ben Phillips

Cambridge United made a flying start to the Sky Bet League Two season with a 3-0 win over Carlisle United.

Luke Hannant, Paul Mullin and Joe Ironside scored the goals that saw the U's make it three wins and three clean sheets since the return to competitive action - with the other two matches coming in the Carabao Cup and EFL Trophy.

United’s movement in the early stages of the first half was undoing Carlisle.

They were struggling to pick up the runs of Mullin, and that was helping create space for Hannant on the left, all perfectly linked together by Joe Ironside.

He was a big physical presence and the focal point of the attack, bringing those around him into the game.

The breakthrough came in the ninth minute, when Ironside won a header midway inside the Carlisle half and Hannant picked up possession.

He raced clear into the visitors area and added enough lift on the ball to get it over advancing keeper Paul Farman, and into the far corner of the net.

It was 2-0 seven minutes later, with a great cross from the right by Kyle Knoyle being met by an thumping header at the front post by Mullin.

Once Carlisle found a way to muster a response to United’s methods, they got more of a foothold in the game.

Omari Patrick had an effort deflected wide in the 34th minute, and from the resultant corner, Josh Kayode had a header blocked by the U’s.

Gime Toure then had a vicious shot fizz narrowly wide, giving hope for the visitors in the second half.

It was a theme that was to continue for the opening exchanges of the second half.

Carlisle were using the width of the pitch to pepper United’s box with crosses, but Greg Taylor and Robbie Cundy, in particular, were standing up to the aerial challenge.

United were not getting too much of a look in at the other end, as they were penned back in their own half, but it proved to be a great test of their resilience.

And, having collectively weathered such a storm, United had the final say.

Knoyle did really well on the right, and rather than crossing, the right-back superbly picked out Ironside at the edge of the area with a pull back, and the striker did really well to place his shot into the bottom corner of the net.

Three points to start the season with three points is a good platform to proceed - and that is not just for the win but the multiple elements of their game within the performance.

Cambridge United: Mitov, Knoyle, Taylor, Cundy, Dunk, Hannant, Digby, O’Neil, Hoolahan, Mullin, Ironside.

Substitutes: May (O’Neil, 28), Iredale (Hoolahan, 68), Knibbs (Mullin, 77). Not used: Burton, Dallas, Davies, Knowles.

Carlisle United: Farman, Tanner, Anderton, Hayden, Guy, Alessandra, Patrick, Mellish, McDonald, Kayode, Toure.

Substitutes: Walker (Alessandra, 65), Riley (Tanner, 65). Not used: Dewhurst, Devine, Hunt, Reilly, Armer.

Referee: Paul Howard.

Bookings: Cambridge United - Digby (unsporting behaviour, 45+3); Carlisle United - Patrick (unsporting behaviour, 45+3), Toure (foul, 88), Mellish (foul, 89).

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