Home   Sport   Article

Subscribe Now

Cambridge United open up a six-point gap to the Sky Bet League One relegation zone with victory over Wigan Athletic

Cambridge United rounded off an Easter to remember with today’s 3-1 home victory over Wigan Athletic.

The U’s headed into tough-looking back-to-back games away at Barnsley and against the Latics nervously looking over their shoulder at the Sky Bet League One relegation zone.

But a gap to the bottom four that started at three points has grown to six after two crucial victories – and it is fair to say that the Garry Monk era at the Cledara Abbey Stadium is now fully up and running.

Gassan Ahadme celebrates putting Cambridge United in front against Wigan Athletic. Picture: Simon Lankester
Gassan Ahadme celebrates putting Cambridge United in front against Wigan Athletic. Picture: Simon Lankester

The visitors lined up with a side showing eight changes from their Good Friday draw with Burton Albion, yet despite the upheaval it was they who made the brighter start.

Martial Godo saw a shot from a narrow angle blocked within the opening 60 seconds and then a minute later Josh Magennis took a tumble inside the box under a challenge from Ryan Bennett. Referee Simon Mather blew his whistle and looked destined to point to the spot, only for the offside flag to come to United’s rescue.

And they made the most of that good fortune in the 11th minute with the game’s opening goal. Liam Bennett did well to sustain an attack after Danny Andrew’s initial delivery had been cleared. He fed James Brophy wide on the left and his cross was expertly swept home by Gassan Ahamde, who marked his first start of 2024 after a lengthy injury lay-off in clinical fashion.

Cambridge United goalkeeper Will Mannion keeps out Josh Magennis' penalty. Picture: Simon Lankester
Cambridge United goalkeeper Will Mannion keeps out Josh Magennis' penalty. Picture: Simon Lankester

Seven minutes later Wigan threatened to restore parity when Luke Chambers got in behind Liam Bennett and cut the ball back for Chris Sze. It was a moment in which those inside the Abbey were waiting for the net to bulge, but Mamadou Jobe – making only his second start in the Football League – had other ideas, sliding in with aggression to make the block.

The combination of Chambers and Sze were also involved in the half’s other significant moment – this time to comedic effort.

Having been so close to awarding the away side a penalty earlier on in the contest, with 34 minutes on the clock Mather did give Wigan a spot kick after adjudging that Jordan Cousins had hauled down Magennis. The Northern Ireland international stepped up, only to lose the battle of wills with United goalkeeper William Mannion. Nevertheless, the ball broke towards Chambers and Sze for what appeared to be a tap-in on the rebound, but the pair succeeded in tripping each other up and the danger was cleared.

Wigan boss Shaun Maloney shuffled his pack early in the second half with four changes, yet it had far from the desired impact as United doubled their lead in the 57th minute. James Gibbons' pass sent Sullay Kaikai free down the left flank and after checking back on to his right foot, the Sierra Leone international spotted Ahadme lurking with intent. And while the cross may have been slightly behind the Ipswich Town loanee, he arced his back and guided a downward header beyond the reach of Sam Tickle for a 12th goal of the campaign.

It was buoyant Abbey Stadium at that point, but nervousness set in eight minutes later when Wigan equalised. One of the quartet introduced by Maloney – Matt Smith – lifted the ball over the top of a static United defence and Godo sped clear before showing good composure to get the better of Mannion.

What followed was a period of Wigan being camped in United’s half, but for all of their possession and territory, Mannion was well protected by those in front of him.

And with the minutes ticking by, that pressure was eased significantly by a moment of magic from Andrew, who from a full 30 yards out sent his free kick flying into the top corner. Tickle may have got the slightest of touches, but there was no stopping his 83rd-minute effort.

It was a goal that burst Wigan’s momentum and allowed those housed in the Newmarket Road End to serenade their side with chants of ‘the U’s are staying up’. There may still be plenty of work to be done, but the last four days have been a huge step in the right direction.

Cambridge United: Mannion, Jobe, R Bennett, Andrew, L Bennett, Gibbons, Cousins, Digby, Brophy (Kachunga 66’), Kaikai (Lankester 80’), Ahadme (Okenabirhie 86’)

Wigan Athletic: Tickle, Kerr, Hughes, Chambers, Sessegnon (Kelman 46’), Smith (Humphreys 46’), Shaw (Aasgaard 54’), Adeeko (M Smith 54’), Sze, Godo, Magennis

Attendance: 6,418 (518 Wigan)

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More