Cambridge City travelled to the Abbey Stadium to face the Cambridge United Development squad in the Cambs FA Invitation Cup Final. The U’s were fielding 6 players from the team that missed out on an FA Youth Cup Semi-Final narrowly losing out to Arsenal FC.
City arrived, buoyed by a win and good performance away to Yaxley FC, in the league and lined up with a couple of changes to that side.
Jarid Robson returned to the starting line-up replacing new signing Tom Lorraine, Mikey Davies made his first start since coming back from Injury and Simon Swinton came in for Aaron Hart, who had not been registered in time for the final.
City made the brighter start and with just 30 seconds on the clock, a poor clearance from former City Loanee goalkeeper Louis Chadwick found its way straight to Simon Swinton who played a superb first-time pass through to Jarid Robson. The City striker was alive to the e chance but lifted the ball over the advancing keeper and wide of the target.
The Lilywhites didn’t have to wait long to break the deadlock. A Jake Battersby throw in to Ben Bradley on the by-line who turned his man brilliantly and found Tom Waumsley who helped the ball on for Mikey Davies to find the back of the net from 7 yards. The perfect start for the majority City Crowd to enjoy.
City were dominating the play in the early stages but there was always a threat with United's pace and slick movement making them dangerous on the break. Hearts were in mouths when Brandon Njoku found the back of the net on 9 minutes only for his effort to be ruled out for offside.
20 mins in and the U's passing game was coming to life, creating 2 further chances for striker Njoku. The first was a volley from 5 yards that was hit straight at Joe Welch in the City goal and then the striker missed the target from 18 yards as Welch came out smartly to narrow the angle.
City were soaking up the pressure well and created another good chance themselves in the 35th minute when Ben Nolan headed over from 8 yards from a Jake Battersby cross.
It looked like the halftime team talk would be about consolidating and defending a 1-0 lead but with only a couple of minutes left in the 1st half, United drew level after good work between Barton and Scales resulted in a low driven cross. Saleem Akanbi nipped it at the near post to tuck the ball passed Welch from close range.
The second half didn’t start any better and 2 minutes in, Njoku finally got his reward. A powerful effort from the corner of the 6 yard box should have given Welch no chance on his near post, but the City keeper got a hand on it only to see the ball loop into the net by the far post. 2-1 to United before many had retaken their seats.
On 55 minutes, Robbie switched things up, bringing on the big man, Tom Lorraine for Tom Waumsley and switching up the formation to allow Jake Battersby and Ben Nolan to get forward more. The change worked and City started to look far more dangerous down the flanks. United seemed happy to sit back and hit on the break, which became a bit of a stalemate for much of the last 20 mins, neither side creating much but City looking slightly the better side.
With time running out and opportunities not forthcoming, it was looking like the cup was going back to United for a second successive year. That was until the 90th minute. Ben Bradley was bundled over 10 yards into the United half and the resulting freekick was fired in by Mikey Davies. Jarid Robson's headed flick on fell kindly for Tom Lorraine, who cooly clipped the ball over the feet of the sprawling Chadwick for 2-2. Nothing more than City deserved for their endeavour and fighting spirit and the game was heading for a penalty Shoot-out
Both keepers made 2 excellent saves each in regulation penalties. But eventually, City lost out by the barest of margins against a very good Cambridge united side. The Final Score 2-2 (6-5 pens) and Cambridge United retained the cup.
We now turn our attentions back to the league with the visit of automatic promotion favourites Stamford AFC where Robbie and the boys will be full of confidence given the performance they gave tonight.