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Cambridge United boss Neil Harris pleased with reaction from players in defeat at leaders Portsmouth

Cambridge United head coach Neil Harris believes the U’s have ‘something to build on’ after an improved performance in a 3-1 defeat at Sky Bet League One leaders Portsmouth last night.

The U’s boss had demanded a reaction from his players following Saturday’s disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Cheltenham Town and saw his side test the Pompey backline in the opening stages.

After a couple of half-chances they deservedly took the lead in the 38th minute when Danny Andrews’ header from Sullay Kaikai’s corner was adjudged to have crossed the line.

Neil Harris was pleased with the reaction he got from his players at Fratton Park Picture: Simon Lankester
Neil Harris was pleased with the reaction he got from his players at Fratton Park Picture: Simon Lankester

But the leaders drew level from the penalty spot a minute before the break when Kusini Yengi was upended by Ryan Bennett with the Australian striker dusting himself off before sending Jack Stevens the wrong way from 12 yards.

The leaders then went on to take the lead just before the hour mark when Paddy Lane’s low cross found Brentford loanee Myles Peart-Harris unmarked six yards out to slide in.

The three points were sealed in the 71st minute when Norwich City loanee Abu Kamara sent a curling effort from the angle of the penalty area in off the crossbar.

Back-to-back defeats – and just one victory in their last five matches – leaves the U’s remaining 17th in the table and still four points off the relegation zone.

But Harris was pleased with what he saw on the whole from his side at Fratton Park, having registered 10 shots with two on target to Portsmouth’s nine and four.

"I thought we were really good, certainly for the first 65 minutes before the second goal. I thought the first half was excellent,” he told the U’s YouTube channel.

"We had a plan and everyone could see it.

"We were very good on the transition, it was just again that final moment was not quite there.

"We got ourselves in front with a well-worked corner and it was just key then to just see it through until half-time.

"It was a key moment against the best side in the league, playing at home in front of almost a sellout.

"You've got to find a way of seeing it through and we give away a penalty and then you think 'right, second half, let's start well'.

"We had a couple more chances but then we get punished again for a transition on the edge of our own box, two games in a row.

"It's not about individuals it's more about a collective, at the moment those key moments are going against us, and they put the ball in the net as good teams do.

"I'm not satisfied with just the performance, but it was a strong performance, I'm disappointed with the result obviously, but it's something to build on, certainly.

"I asked the payers for a reaction from Saturday with a disappointing performance and result and I certainly got a reaction, so I'm pleased with the group for that."

Harris felt his side were worthy of a lead at the break but accepted not taking their chances was their downfall once again, something they will look to rectify up at basement side Carlisle United on Saturday (3pm).

"I felt we deserved to be in front and deserved to be in front at the break,” he said.

"I thought the crowd became very edgy and frustrated with their players.

"I thought it was a really strong, professional away performance for a long period but if you don't take your chances at one end as we didn't last Saturday that comes back and bites you on the bum again.

"And again, we had enough chances, we got in enough good areas, we've just got to find a way to be more clinical against better sides.

"Tonight's result is not a problem, the disappointment is the result from Saturday.

"What we've got to make sure is that we don't make it three disappointing results in a week when we go to Carlisle at the weekend, that's a massive game and one we look forward to."

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