Scott Bridges penalty helps Cambridge City beat Histon for derby bragging rights
As Cambridge City completed a derby double over Histon on Easter Monday, in many ways it symptomised the current status of both clubs.
Scott Bridges’ second-half penalty secured the Lilywhites a 1-0 success, which added to their 4-2 win over the Stutes during the festive period.
City delivered a controlled performance and never really looked vulnerable, save for Histon getting in behind them once early in the game.
The win followed a 3-2 defeat to play-off chasing Carlton Town last Saturday, when there was very little between the teams. Jordan Gent had given City an early lead, and then equalised after Carlton had hit back, only for the visitors to get what turned out to be their eventual winner before half time.
The two results leave City in ninth place in the table, and perhaps wondering what might have been. They have routinely shown that they can more than hold their own against the leading lights in the division, and just need that missing ingredient to propel them into the upper reaches.
It is probably fair to say that those missing ingredients have been within their ranks, it is just that it has been a campaign of absentees, for a whole host of reasons, but mainly injuries.
That control that they were able to exert over Histon was through a spine of Taylor Parr, Bridges and Ryan Ingrey, and the win – in tandem with the defeat to Carlton – was a glimpse of what may be possible with a bit of luck and fewer players on the treatment table.
“We were disappointed with our first-half performance,” said City boss Robbie Nightingale.
“We didn’t get on the ball well enough or quick enough, or get it to wide areas to really hurt them.
“We gave them too many opportunities in behind us, and the boy Rolph upfront is a handful – he has been for a few years and he won everything in the air.
“We got in at half time and regrouped a little. For the large part, I thought we controlled a lot of the second half.
“For the majority of it, we kept the ball well, moved it well and probably the final pass or the last bit in the final third was a little bit wanting at times.”
Histon battled hard to get on the front foot at Bridge Road, but for all their efforts they were just unable to pose enough of a threat, and this is why it felt so reflective of the campaign.
They started it on the back foot after losing so many players having been placed in the Northern Premier League, Midlands Division, and have always been playing catch-up.
Every time it seems like they have turned a corner, a mishap has occurred which has jolted them backwards.
Take the clash with City. There was nothing in it really at the break, save for Mikey Davis hitting the post from the edge of the box for the nominal ‘visitors’ – it was landlords Histon’s home game.
The Lilywhites started the second half much stronger, with Ingrey tapping home only to be ruled out for offside. However, from a deep cross from the left by Seb Simpson, Histon defender Charlie Lewis upended Jarid Robson in the area when there seemed to be very little danger.
There was no hesitation from the referee in pointing to the spot, and Bridges made no mistake with the penalty.
From nothing apart from a bit more concerted intensity to City’s attacks, Histon found themselves 1-0 down, and they never really looked like getting back on level terms.
The closest they came was from Tobi Lawal’s deflected dipping effort late on that City keeper Danny Boness had to tip over.
“I think over the piece we’ve probably deserved the draw,” said Histon manager Lance Key. “I thought we shaded the first half and had the better opportunities, but in the second half City came into it and were stronger.
“We sat back in the second half which allowed them to play into wide areas and that hurt us a bit. We had a 20-minute spell where we couldn’t get out of our half.
“It just wasn’t enough today. We gave our all and earned some respect back from our last home game when we played Wisbech [a 5-1 defeat] because we gave our all in a local derby.”
City, who have one game left this season, can see what the future may hold, with a bit of luck here and there for varying reasons
“We’re obviously looking for players to make us better, and we’ve identified one or two that hopefully we can try to get in,” said Nightingale.
“We’re not a million miles away as we’ve got 16 or 17 very good first-team players.”
But it is all up in the air for Histon.
They face a trip to Sporting Khalsa in their final league match on Saturday (April 23) before a relegation play-off decider against an as yet unknown opponent on April 30 to try to preserve their place at this level.
No doubt, they would have taken that at different stages of the season, but it means they cannot look any further ahead than the next 10 days, unlike their tenants.
“Going into next Saturday at Sporting Khalsa, it’s important we don’t go there and just accept whatever is going to happen because we’ve got to keep momentum going for the following weekend,” said Key, whose side beat Sutton Coldfield on Saturday 2-0, thanks to goals from Rhys Thorpe and Ed Rolph.
“At least we’re in that position to have a go to try to stay in this division next year.
“It’s been a very tough season, it’s been a hard slog sometimes but hopefully we’ve got one little last push in us and hopefully we can get over the line.”
It was such a different derby to normal, as what was riding on it contrasted so wildly between the two teams, but it did not take away the feelgood factor for City and their supporters of getting the bragging rights over their rivals, especially by completing a season double after their 4-2 win at Christmas.
“We’re going to finish ninth or 10th in the league, but to beat your landlords, your rivals, to win both games is massive for us,” said Nightingale.
“These supporters have been through probably the worst time – nine years away from Milton Road, and the things that have happened in between that.
“A lot of money has gone into keeping the club going and, games like this, a lot of people have come out wearing City shirts and hopefully will go home happy and come out again next Saturday for one last hurrah.”
City host Loughborough Dynamos this Saturday (April 23).