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Cambridge United suffer defeat to Oxford United in Papa John’s Trophy

Harrison Dunk went closest for Cambridge United against Oxford United. Picture: Keith Heppell
Harrison Dunk went closest for Cambridge United against Oxford United. Picture: Keith Heppell

Rob Hall scored the only goal of the game to send Cambridge United to a 1-0 defeat at Oxford United in the southern section, third round tie of the Papa John’s Trophy.

The breakthrough came in the 74th minute from a set-piece, but United can take plenty of positives in their performance against their higher division opponents.

They took their time to grow into the first half though.

There was an early scare for the U's in the third minute, with keeper Callum Burton having to be alert to push Elliott Moore's header over the bar.

Oxford forced a steady string of corners, but Cambridge were defending well to restrict opportunities for the hosts.

In the 16th minute, Hall cut in off the right to fire a low shot that Burton had to turn behind at his front post.

But the U's grew into the game, and looked a threat on the counter-attack.

In the 22nd minute, a cross from the right by debutant Jubril Okedina was flicked on by Harvey Knibbs and met with a diving header by Joe Ironside that went wide.

Paul Digby then hit a volley from the edge of the area that was easily saved by Oxford keeper Simon Eastwood.

The hosts went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock just before the break as Dan Agyei got just into the area to fire a shot across goal and narrowly wide.

But the U's broke up the other end, and Knibbs blasted over from the edge of the box.

Oxford made much of the early running in the second half, without creating any clear-cut chances.

The U’s were staying nice and compact, and were content to defend their area, looking strong defensively.

The first meaningful attempt at goal from either side came in the 66th minute, when Olamide Shodipo cut inside and fired a right-footed effort just past the far post.

But the breakthrough came eight minutes later.

Harry Darling was booked for a foul just outside the area, to their left.

Hall stood over the free kick, which was about 20 yards out, and planted a perfect shot over the wall into the top corner, past the despairing efforts of Burton.

United’s best chance of the match came in the 86th minute, but Harrison Dunk headed Kyle Knoyle’s cross narrowly wide.

The U’s piled on the pressure in the closing stages with a number of balls into the box, but it would not drop kindly for them and they exited the competition.

Oxford United: Eastwood, Forde, Moore, Long, Obita, Sykes, Hanson, Brannagan, Hall, Winnall, Agyei.

Substitutes: McGuane (Brannagan, 60), Kelly (Hanson, 60), Shodipo (Agyei, 60), Osei Yaw (Winnall, 60), Gorrin (Sykes, 81).

Cambridge United: Burton, Okedina, Cundy, Darlin, Iredale, Davies, May, Digby, Hannant, Ironside, Knibbs.

Substitutes: Knoyle (Davies, 74), Dunk (Hannant, 74), Worman (Knibbs, 74), Dallas (Ironside, 81), O’Neil (May, 81).

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