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Liam O’Neil strike seals Cambridge United comeback win over 10-man Burton Albion in a seven-goal thriller in League One





Sam Smith scores for Cambridge United against Burton Albion. Picture: Simon Lankester (58934201)
Sam Smith scores for Cambridge United against Burton Albion. Picture: Simon Lankester (58934201)

Liam O'Neil smashed home a winner for Cambridge United as they bounced back from behind on three occasions to beat Burton Albion 4-3 in Sky Bet League One.

Sam Smith scored an impressive hat-trick for the U's before O'Neil's eventual match winner in the 79th minute, but they were made to work extremely hard for the win against a Burton side who had Jonny Smith shown a straight red card in the 11th minute.

Burton made a record-breaking start to the game.

Jonny Smith got down the right and sent over a low cross which spun up off Jubril Okedina and Gassan Ahadme headed home after just 11 seconds for the fastest league goal in Burton's history.

It left United shell-shocked and took them a while to gather their composure.

They were helped in the 11th minute when Burton's Smith was shown a red card for retaliation on Harrison Dunk.

Lloyd Jones had the U's first chance of note in the 22nd minute with a 25-yard drive that the visitor's keeper, Ben Garratt, looked jittery in dealing with at first.

Okedina fired over the bar and Sam Smith had a header at the back post just wide from Shilow Tracey's cross to the back post.

It was that combination that was to lead to United's equaliser in the 34th minute.

Tracey floated a cross to the back post and it seemed that Smith was heading back across goal for a team-mate, but it somehow snuck in at the back post.

Burton were twice appealing for penalties for handball in the box in the 40th minute, but although those were rejected, they scored from the subsequent corner.

It was floated in from their right and unmarked captain John Brayford thumped home a header.

There was still time for one last chance of the half for United, with Garratt not looking entirely convincing when keeping out George Williams' drive from just inside the area.

A fast start to the second half was needed by United, and the early goal arrived in the 54th minute.

Sam Smith scores for Cambridge United against Burton Albion. Picture: Simon Lankester (58934203)
Sam Smith scores for Cambridge United against Burton Albion. Picture: Simon Lankester (58934203)

Patience told as a ball into the area was nodded down into the path of Adam May, who hit a shot into the ground, and Sam Smith reacted smartly to divert the header in the opposite direction to wrong foot Garratt.

United almost took the lead in the 61st minute when Harrison Dunk sent a long ball from the back that Smith muscled onto and broke free into the area but his powerful shot on the angle was superbly saved by Garratt.

He went close again with a shot at the back post, although that was much easier for Garratt to gather.

From nothing Burton regained the lead in the 67th minute as Ahadme charged down an attempted clearance from United keeper Dimi Mitov, and it flew into the back of the net.

You could not take your eyes off the game for a second as, in the 70th minute, Smith completed his hat-trick to bring United level at 3-3.

O'Neil sent a terrific ball over the Burton defence, and Smith got in behind to swivel on a sixpence and smash a volley past Garratt.

There was no end in sight to the cut-and-thrust appoach, and Harvey Knibbs had two efforts cleared off the line by Burton.

United took the lead for the first time in the 79th minute, and it was through some strike.

Substitute Jack Lankester found Joe Ironside getting in behind and he turned his back to goal, holding up play, and laid off a pass to O'Neil who fired first time past Garratt to make it 4-3.

After what was a hectic 80 minutes, United finally found some control in the game and were able to see out the last 10 minutes with minimal scares to hold on for all three points in one of the most eventful matches at the Abbey in recent few years.

Cambridge United: Mitov, Williams, Okedina, Jones, Dunk, May, Digby, Knibbs, Smith, Tracey, Ironside.

Substitutes: O'Neil (Digby, 66), Lankester (Knibbs, 79), Ibsen Rossi (Tracey, 90+5). Not used: Mannion, Haunstrup, Janneh, Okenabirhie.

Burton Albion: Garratt, Brayford, Borthwick-Jackson, Hughes, Butcher, Ahadme, Keillor-Dunn, Smith, Kokolo, Taylor, Hamer.

Substitutes: Onyango (Kokolo, 45), Powell (Keillor-Dunn, 61), Adeboyejo (Ahadme, 90). Not used: Sinisalo, Oshilaja, Lakin, Castro.

Bookings: Cambridge United - Lankester (time wasting, 90+6); Burton - Ahadme (foul, 27), Brayford (foul, 51), Borthwick-Jackson (foul, 90+7).



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