Students watch United's triumph

20 November 2008

Cambridge’s student fraternity and sorority descended on the Trade Recruitment (Abbey) Stadium on Tuesday night to witness a non-league footballing spectacle of epic proportions. With Cambridge looking to maintain their promotion push against league rivals York City, over 600 students took advantage of the ticket giveaway to cheer on their local team.

Cambridge started tentatively with the defence, and particularly goalkeeper Danny Potter, seeing a lot of the ball. They did put this early possession to good use though with Robbie Wilmots on the left wing providing his diminutive counterpart from the right, Felino Jardim, the first real chance of the game; a header from eight yards out. Cambridge continued to press and quite how Mark Beesley missed an almost open goal from 3 yards out on 12 minutes after excellent work down the right channel by strike partner Lee McEvilly, only he could tell you.

The visitors then fluffed a sitter of their own before Cambridge regained control of possession; Jardim and particularly Wilmots, caused havoc down the flanks, taking advantage of York’s 3-5-2 wing-back system. Despite creating many openings, actual chances were few and far between; a 25-yard drive from former York midfielder Mark Convery, the pick of the efforts. The ugly side of football reared its ugly head that half, with the young assistant referee bombarded with abuse from the away support. This was well drowned out though by a vociferous faithful in the South Stand, whilst the student population immersed themselves all round the ground to raucous effect.

On 51 minutes however, further pressure from Cambridge resulted in what turned out to be the winning goal, to send the students and non-students alike into a celebratory frenzy. Inevitably it was crafted down the flank, Felino whipping in a dangerous cross, only for York right wing-back Ben Purkiss to divert the ball past his own keeper. Despite controlling the game for long periods Cambridge almost let their usual profligacy in front of goal haunt them as Craig Farrell hit the post with a rasping header. A dodgy looking offside decision denied Lee McEvilly the chance to continue his good goal-scoring form late on but Cambridge held out for the win, to send the hoards of home fans dancing a merry jig at the final whistle.

Manager Gary Brabin and Chief Executive Norman Gautrey praised the turnout of fans and particularly those linked to the University; the “town and gown” initiative paid off in abundance as they recorded their first league win in 4 games.

The victory sees Cambridge leapfrog into a promotion spot and only three points off the top. With such a great turn-out from the student population, hopefully Cambridge United will see such great support for future games, starting with Ebbsfleet United on the 29th.