Paul Mullin brace earns Cambridge United victory over Morecambe in Sky Bet League Two
Paul Mullin bagged a brace as Cambridge United won 2-1 against 10-man Morecambe in Sky Bet League Two at the Abbey.
The striker grabbed a goal in each half to strengthen the U's position in the automatic promotion places, with Morecambe getting a late consolation having had Liam Gibson show a straight red card in the 55th minute.
United started the far more confident side.
They were caressing the ball around the pitch, maintaining possession for long periods without quite being able to carve out a chance to test Morecambe keeper Kyle Letheran.
But after a couple of corners amounted to nothing, they took the lead in the 18th minute.
A great floated cross by Kyle Knoyle was met by Joe Ironside who had peeled off at the back post. His header was well saved by Letheran, but the ball fell to Mullin who poked home on the goal line.
United continued to hold the supremacy, restricting the Shrimps to a few hopeful balls into the area while also creating a couple of good opportunities themselves.
A brilliant counter-attack in the 25th minute, started by Jack Iredale’s pinpoint pass to Mullin, led to Liam O’Neil having a back-post header cleared off the line.
Another excellent counter-attack was started by Wes Hoolahan inside his own box, and Paul Digby then put a superb side-rule pass in behind the defence for Iredale to race through on, and his shot drew a good stop by Letheran.
After an uneventful start to the second half, Morecambe were reduced to 10 men in the 55th minute.
Hiram Boateng picked out Mullin’s run from deep in his own half and the striker beat the offside trap to get the wrong side of centre-back Liam Gibson, who brought down the U’s man when clean through on goal.
Referee David Rock had no choice but show the Morecambe defender a straight red card, and Boateng’s fierce drive from the resulting free kick was straight at Letheran.
The sending off spurred Morecambe into action.
Carlos Mendes Gomes should have at least got his header on target when well placed in the area, and then Aaron Wildig’s shot on the turn was comfortably held by U’s keeper Callum Burton.
The shot-stopper produced an even more important stop to preserve his side’s lead.
Greg Taylor was adjudged to have brought down Wildig in the area, with Rock pointing to the spot.
But Burton was equal to Cole Stockton’s tame penalty, saving low to his left.
Despite the extra man, United were being forced onto the back foot, although Kyle Knoyle twice fired off target from the edge of the box.
United had same breathing space with their second goal in the 81st minute.
Shilow Tracey was brought down in the area by Ryan Cooney, and Mullin dispatched his penalty into the bottom left corner.
But Morecambe had not given up the fight.
Sam Lavelle's powerful header from a corner was brilliantly stopped by Burton, but Freddie Price was on hand to head home the rebound to give themselves hope of grabbing a point.
However, United were able to see out the remainder of the pitch with no scares to be seven-point clear of the play-off places.
Cambridge United: Burton, Knoyle, Okedina, Taylor, Iredale, Digby, O’Neil, Boatend, Hoolahan, Mullin, Ironside.
Substitutes: Tracey (O'Neil, 75), Hannant (Mullin, 87), Dunk (Hoolahan, 90+5). Not used: McKenzie-Lyle, Drysdale, Alese, May.
Morecambe: Lutheran, Mellor, Lavelle, Davis, Diagouraga, Stockton, Wildig, Mendes Gomes, O’Sullivan, Pringle, Gibson.
Substitutes: Cooney (Mellor, 58), Hendrie (Pringle, 58), McAllinden (Stockton, 75), Price (Mendes Gomes, 87), Denny (Diagouraga, 87). Not used: Halstead, Knight-Percival.
Referee: David Rock.