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Barry Corr’s Cambridge United taste derby defeat against Peterborough United as Ephron Mason-Clark goal the difference at the Cledara Abbey Stadium

The dream of Barry Corr leading Cambridge United to a derby day win against Peterborough United did not become reality, as Darren Ferguson’s side defeated the U’s 1-0 at the Cledara Abbey Stadium.

Nine minutes after half-time, Ephron Mason-Clark’s cross evaded everybody in the penalty area before finding its way into the bottom corner, to condemn United to their 15th league defeat of the season and leave them five points above the Sky Bet League One drop zone before the rest of Saturday’s action.

On the balance of chances created, it was a deserved victory for the Posh as they finished the first half with a flurry of chances that they were unable to take. Malik Mothersille missed an open goal before Archie Collins’ strike rattled the crossbar. Kwame Poku then toe-poked his effort from close range wide of the mark.

Jordan Cousins and Sullay Kaikai battle for possession. Picture: Keith Heppell
Jordan Cousins and Sullay Kaikai battle for possession. Picture: Keith Heppell

The U’s, spurred on by a hostile Abbey, did fashion opportunities of their own and found the back of the net just before the break, but Elias Kachunga’s header was ruled out by the linesman’s offside flag.

Danny Andrew’s viscous effort from the edge of the box with 10 minutes remaining looked like it had snuck into the right-hand corner, but that was as close as Corr’s men came to an equaliser as their rivals celebrated doing the double over the U’s.

Interim boss Corr named three changes to the side that started the U’s 2-1 defeat at home to Bolton in midweek. George Thomas, Jack Lankester and James Gibbons replaced Liam Bennett, Paul Digby and Macaulay Bonne. Kachunga led the line.

Jack Lankester in duel. Picture: Keith Heppell
Jack Lankester in duel. Picture: Keith Heppell

Lyle Taylor began his three-game suspension after the club yesterday lost the appeal of the striker’s dismissal against the Wanderers.

The visitors, buoyed after they booked their place at Wembley in the Bristol Street Motors Trophy final courtesy of a 3-0 victory at Blackpool, were unchanged from their midweek victory against the Tangerines.

The U’s started on the front foot and felt they should have been awarded a penalty inside the first two minutes when, after a neat passing moving from the hosts, Sullay Kaikai was brought down in the box. The referee was spared the pressure of making a crucial decision by the linesman’s flag for offside.

The visitors responded well, as the tricky Poku danced his way past Morrison before striking a tame effort into the grateful grasp of Stevens.

Elias Kachunga tries to build a Cambridge attack. Picture: Keith Heppell
Elias Kachunga tries to build a Cambridge attack. Picture: Keith Heppell

The U’s faithful were going to have to play the 12th-man role throughout the contest to push their side forward and the crowd at the Cledara Abbey Stadium roared Andrew down the line after five minutes. The left-back teased a wicked ball into the penalty area that Lankester agonisingly watched roll past his outstretched boot, but start with real intent from Corr’s side none the less.

After a few careless passes in the U’s midfield, Posh fashioned two good chances to break the deadlock inside the first 10 minutes. Kachunga’s misplaced ball was almost capitalised on by Poku, had Andrew not got back to make a vital challenge in the box.

Then, an underhit back pass from Gibbons set Mason-Clark baring down on goal but his cutback was collected well by an alert Stevens.

Sullay Kaikai charges forward . Picture: Keith Heppell
Sullay Kaikai charges forward . Picture: Keith Heppell

Kaikai was proving a real handful for the Posh backline with his relentless pressing and desire to get at left-back Harrison Burrows. His trickery saw him breeze pass the 22-year-old defender, before he flashed a ball across the penalty area that no-one in yellow could turn home.

The U’s winger then created the host’s best opening of the contest on 25 minutes, when his deft touch set up Lankester who tried to score with an unorthodox flick from a few yards out, but Steer got down to his effort.

After a tightly-contested opening half an hour in the reverse fixture, it was the last 15 minutes of the first half back in November that put the game beyond Mark Bonner’s U’s.

Elias Kachunga rises for a header. Picture: Keith Heppell
Elias Kachunga rises for a header. Picture: Keith Heppell

While there was no three-goal swing heading into the break this time around, Posh had a hat-trick of chances to brake the deadlock before half-time. Mothersille was presented with an open goal after Andrews’ challenge fell straight to the visiting striker, but he somehow knocked his effort wide of the post.

Then, in acres of space on the edge of the box to line up a strike, Collins curled an effort onto the top of the crossbar before Poku missed a guilt-edged chance at the back post, after a wicked delivery from Burrows.

And after surviving wave after wave of Peterborough attacks, the U’s faithful thought they had taken the lead right on the stroke of half-time. Kachunga headed the ball home from close range, after a corner resulted in pinball in the penalty area, but the offside flag denied him his fifth goal of his League One campaign.

Both sides crafted decent opportunities at the start of the second half. Thomas saw his effort from the edge of the area held well by Steer, before Collins’ cross from the left just evaded the far corner of Stevens’ goal.

Elias Kachunga tries to get past the Peterborough United defence Picture: Keith Heppell
Elias Kachunga tries to get past the Peterborough United defence Picture: Keith Heppell

Kaikai was next to try his luck against the Posh shot-stopper but, after the visiting defence split allowing the U’s winger a free run at goal, the number 14 did not catch his effort cleanly, and it was easy for Steer to claim.

After the U’s early second half sights at goal, it was the visitors broke the deadlock in the Cambridgeshire derby just nine minutes after the re-start.

In a similar fashion to how Collins’ cross evaded everyone in the penalty area moments earlier, Clark-Harris delivered from the same position and his right-footed ball in snuck into the far corner.

Posh started attacking with an authority about them after the opener and wondered how they were not two goals to the good with 20 minutes of the contest remaining, as substitute Hector Kyprianou smashed the crossbar with a strike from inside the area.

Mason-Clark then should have scored his second of the game, but he lashed his effort from 10 yards out over the bar.

Having been starved of possession since since the goal, the U’s crafted their best move of the match with 10 minutes remaining. A dummy from Lankester allowed the ball to roll to Andrew, whose venomous low drive from the edge of the box whistled past the right-hand post.

Cambridge United: Stevens, Andrew, Morrison, R. Bennett (Okedina 87’), Brophy (Njoku 87’), Thomas, Lankester, Kaikai, Kachunga (Bonne 76’), Cousins (May 76’), Gibbons (L. Bennett 63’).

Unused substitutes: Mannion, Digby.

Peterborough United: Steer, Katongo, Burrows, Edwards, Knight, Fuchs (Kyprianou 60’), Mason-Clark (Clarke-Harris 87’), Poku, Randall, Mothersille (Jones 60’), Collins.

Unused substitutes: Bilokapic, Circhlow, Havilland, Olakigbe.

Attendance: 7,710

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