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Tom Knowles and Paul Mullin on target for Cambridge United in win over Fulham under-21s as fans return to Abbey Stadium in EFL pilot

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Tom Knowles in action for Cambridge United v Fulham . Picture: Keith Heppell. (42173340)
Tom Knowles in action for Cambridge United v Fulham . Picture: Keith Heppell. (42173340)

Tom Knowles and Paul Mullin were on target for Cambridge United in a 2-0 win over Fulham under-21s in the EFL Trophy, Southern Group H.

The spotlight was on the U's as the match at the Abbey Stadium became a pilot event for the safe return of fans to football stadia, and there were 862 of the Amber Army in attendance to witness a win for the hosts.

Given the way United have been performing in pre-season and in the Carabao Cup in the win over Birmingham City, it was no surprise that they were the dominant side against the young Fulham team.

The visitors were calm in possession, but they could make very little headway against what is becoming an increasingly resolute United who are showing how hard they will be to breakdown.

Andrew Dallas was taking quite a buffering up front for the U's, drawing numerous fouls in the first half. But it was Knowles that offered the greatest threat.

In the fifth minute, the left winger's low shot on the angle was saved by the feet of Fulham keeper Luca Ashby Hammond.

Harvey Knibbs took a nice touch in the area to get away an effort, but it was off-target.

The deadlock was broken in the 24th minute. A 25-yard free kick was bent round the wall and beat Ashby Hammond at his near post.

Dallas had an effort on the turn saved and then Knowles should have doubled United's lead, but having rounded the keeper, his effort was cleared off the line by Connor McAvoy.

The lead was the least United deserved, and more of the same was required in the second half.

Fulham carved out the first clear-cut opening after the break, with a slick move down the left seeing the ball squared across the area to Jayden Harris, whose effort from the edge of the box was spectacularly saved by U's keeper Callum Burton.

Knibbs went close in the 69th minute with a curling effort that went wide, and Burton was called into action a minute later at the other end, saving smartly low to his right to deny Sylvester Jasper's central shot from the edge of the area.

Knowles almost had his second in the 77th minute, but Ashby Hammond was equal to the effort from the edge of the area with a good low stop to his left.

There was a scare in the 79th minute when a sliced clearance fell to Jay Stansfield, who hooked the chance over the bar.

A long free kick from inside his own half by Greg Taylor slipped through the fingers of the keeper and onto the head of a surprised Joe Ironside, who headed wide.

But it was 2-0 moments later when substitute Paul Mullin picked up the ball at the edge of the area, and placed his effort into the bottom corner of the net.

It was job done for the U's, and a night when they will also hoped to have shown the relevant bodies that fans can safely return to grounds.

Cambridge United: Burton, Knoyle, Taylor, Digby, Iredale, Davies, May, Dunk, Knowles, Dallas, Knibbs.

Substitutes: Mitov, Hannant, Mullin, Cundy, Ironside, Simper, Worman.

Fulham under-21s: Ashby Hammond, Carvalho, Mundle Smith, Harris, De Havilland, Davis, Jasper, McAvoy, Stansfield, Pajaziti, Larkeche.

Substitutes: Las, Tiehi, Ablade, O’Neil, Odutayo.

Referee: Darren Drysdale.

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