Cambridge United secure sudden death penalty shoot-out win over Brentford in the Carabao Cup
Harvey Knibbs and Callum Burton were the heroes for Cambridge United as they secured a 5-4 sudden death penalty shoot-out success at Championship side Brentford in the first round of the Carabao Cup.
Goalkeeper Burton was making his competitive debut for the U’s and, having made some important saves during the game as it finished 1-1, saved two of the Bees’ penalties.
It fell to Knibbs, also on his United debut, to tuck away the vital spot-kick.
And it was no more than United deserved, really.
Both sides made plenty of changes from the games in their respective leagues last Saturday - with seven for the U’s and nine for the Bees.
It seemed to have far less of an impact on the U’s though, who were particularly impressive in the first half for a number of reasons.
Their organisation and defence was again exemplary, but it is sometimes easy to say that without quantifying it in real terms.
What stood out was the communication that ran throughout the team. One of the central players in this regard seemed to be Paul Lewis, who was sat in a deeper midfield role.
He was covering vast swathes of ground from left to right and back again, making sure that any opponents were either marked or passed on to a team-mate.
Each player knew his duties and responsibilities, and that meant that there was always cover.
At the other end, Richards and Andrew Dallas continued where they left off in the second half of the 0-0 draw against Newport County at the weekend.
It does feel for all of the U’s strikers that it is just a matter of time, and about giving them an opportunity to form partnerships.
Richards and Dallas’ movement was certainly encouraging, and they did not give the defenders any peace, while Reggie Lambe was providing a creative outlet, pushing forward to assist the strikers whenever possible.
It only took three minutes for the trio to combine for United to make the breakthrough - with their first goal of the new season.
Dru Yearwood needlessly gave away possession at the edge of his own area and Reggie Lambe put through Andrew Dallas.
The Scottish striker squad across the area for Marc Richards, whose first effort was saved by Luke Daniels, but the U’s striker made no mistake with the rebound.
Brentford responded with Jan Zamburek driving into the area and squaring for Joel Valencia, but he blazed his effort over the bar.
Emiliano Marcondes warmed the hands of Callum Burton from a free-kick wide on the left, and then Yearwood curling an effort from from 25 yards.
They were merely half chances though, as Brentford seemed to be quite insipid, especially in the face of an organised and defensively resolute United.
The visitors had the final opening of the half, with Lambe seizing on a sloppy pass to slide in Dallas 30-yards out but his attempted loft shot went over the bar.
The first clear-cut opening of the second half also went the way of the U’s.
Lambe did well to win back possession on a counter-attack and George Taft, who had been retreating from a corner, won back possession and played the ball in to Dallas.
He created space for himself, only to be denied by Daniels and George Maris’ rebound was also stopped by the keeper.
Brentford made three relatively early substitutions in the second half, and it helped them grow into the game.
They had a bit more movement about them and were finding space in between the lines to pick their passes.
There was a warning for United when Rico Henry had the time to line up a 25-yard curling effort that went just over the bar.
Mathias Jensen then dinked a lovely pass in to Bryan Mbeumo in the box, and his volley was smartly stopped low down by Burton for a corner.
The threatened equaliser eventually arrived in the 70th minute.
Ollie Watkins was able to turn in the area to get to the edge of the six-yard box and his low cross was turned home off the near post by Marcus Forss.
Minutes later, Henry went close to giving Brentford the lead, curling a 25-yard shot narrowly wide.
It was becoming more of a rearguard action for the U’s as the Bees upped the ante, but they were coping well, albeit with a few heart-in-mouth moments.
And they stood strong to take the game to deservedly take the game to penalties.
Jensen, Mbeumo, Ollie Watkins and Forss were successful for Brentford, while Burton saved from Marcondes.
In reply, Luke Hannant, Harrison Dunk, Lambe and Harry Darling were on target for United, while Lewis hit the post.
It took it to sudden death, and Luka Racic sent his spot-kick straight down the throat of Burton to save.
Harvey Knibbs, on his competitive debut for United, stepped up for the deciding penalty and made no mistake, sending Daniels the wrong way by going lowing to the left.
Brentford: Daniels, Clarke, Racic, Dalsgaard, Thompson, Yearwood, Marcondes, Zamburek, Valencia, Mbeumo, Forss.
Substitutes: Henry (Clarke, 33), Jensen (Yearwood, 55), Watkins (Zamburek, 64. Subs not used: Gunnarsson, Canos, Hammar, Oksanen,
Cambridge United: Burton, Davies, Darling, John, Taft, Dunk, Lewis, Maris, Lambe, Dallas, Richards.
Substitutes: Knibbs (Richards, 60), Hannant (Maris, 72), Jones (Dallas, 72). Subs not used: Mitov, Taylor, Knowles.
Bookings: Brentford - Thompson (foul, 18); Cambridge United - John (foul, 19).