U's captain Greg Taylor heads narrowly wide of the Oxford goalBen Phillips

Cambridge United have this afternoon (07/08) secured a solid 1-1 draw against Oxford United to kick off their League One campaign.

The U’s went into the match after a steady run of form during pre-season, starting with a 2-0 win against Cardiff City and ending the break with a goalless stalemate against Northampton Town, who were relegated from League One last season. Bonner’s squad had a clean bill of health, with the only notable absence being new-signing Jack Lankester, who is nursing an injury that may see him sidelined until the U’s face Burton Albion in a couple of weeks time (21/08).

In the moments before kick off, the Abbey Stadium was a hive of activity after welcoming back fans from an extensive stint of absence. One Cambridge fan, Stuart Jones, explained that “last year was gutting not being able to attend matches in what proved to be an exciting and historic season for the club”. A strong total of 6,444 supporters packed out the Abbey terraces. 

Turning to the game, set pieces dominated the opening twenty minutes, as both teams saw headers fall on the wrong sides of the post. This soon changed, however, after Oxford's James Henry came close to converting new-signing Steve Seddon's pinpoint cross. Cambridge's Dimitar Mitov got down well to parry the chance away from goal.

The visitors' opening effort prompted the start of an end-to-end battle between the two outfits, as wingers James Brophy and Shilow Tracey injected a dangerous dose of pace into the U's side. On the thirty-minute mark, Oxford's Seddon was narrowly denied a chance at the back post by a U's block, while Tracey led the Cambridge counter attack only to be fouled by opposing winger Ryan Williams.

Just three minutes shy of half-time, it was the away team that broke the deadlock. Williams went from perpetrator to assister after chipping in a delicate ball from the right-hand side towards the back stick, with Seddon then firing home a first-time shot past Mitov to give Oxford the lead going into the break.

Oxford then got the second half underway, but it was Cambridge's Tracey that produced an opening opportunity in the 51st minute, dragging his 20-yard effort just wide of the post.


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Continuing their attempts to break down Oxford's defence, Bonner's side finally struck success with a penalty chance in the 79th minute. Following an unnecessary challenge from Mark Sykes that brought down Paul Digby in the box, striker Joe Ironside cooly converted the spot kick for his first goal of the new season. "Yellow And Black Army" erupted in ecstasy around the ground.

With neither side managing to claim a late winner, Cambridge United come away with a well-earned point on the opening day. Elsewhere, Accrington Stanley suffered a 2-1 away defeat to Wycombe Wanderers, which should give the U's an extra boost of confidence ahead of their fixture at the Wham Stadium next Saturday (14/08).

Joe Ironside buries the equaliser in front of Newmarket Road EndBen Phillips


Cambridge United: Dimitar Mitov, George Williams, Jack Iredale, Paul Digby, Greg Taylor, Lloyd Jones, James Brophy, Liam O'Neil, Joe Ironside, Wes Hoolahan, Shilow Tracey

Substitutes: Will Mannion, Sam Smith, Harrison Dunk, Jubril Okedina, Adam May, Harvey Knibbs, Ben Worman

Oxford United: Jack Stevens, Anthony Forde, Elliott Moore, Jordan Thorniley, Steve Seddon, Cameron Brannagan, James Henry, Mark Sykes, Ryan Williams, Matt Taylor, Gavin Whyte

Substitutes: Simon Eastwood, Sam Long, Marcus McGuane, Alex Gorrin, Billy Bodin, Sam Winnall, Daniel Agyei