Unbeaten in four and with an in-form Lyle Taylor, Cambridge United came into Saturday’s fixture firm favourites. Their opponents, Cheltenham Town, sat eight points adrift from safety, having lost their way after a fruitful festive period. 

The U’s started the game as the better side. Lyle Taylor, as expected, looked hungry. He squandered the first big chance of the match 13 minutes in, despite significant Cheltenham protestations for an offside, which was not given.

Just over ten minutes later, however, the offside flag would be raised. Cheltenham Town’s George Lloyd thought he’d scored the opener only for it to be controversially disallowed – replays suggest Lloyd may have been played onside by Danny Andrew. Lloyd’s finish came after some fantastic work by Matty Taylor who, not for the only time in the match, turned Ryan Bennett with worrying ease. Bennett would struggle all afternoon with the pace and nous of the experienced Taylor, who has now scored two in two for his new club.

United went straight down the other end and had a great chance of their own. Sullay Kaikai went on a mazy run before the ball ricocheted to Jack Lankester, who failed to find the back of the net. 

United’s lack of killer instinct was demonstrated once again only a minute later. This time it was Elias Kachunga who fired over after a great low cross from Lyle Taylor.

The last 15 minutes of the first half offered little more in the way of exciting action and it became clear that there was nothing to separate the sides on a technical level. Both Taylors had proved their danger attacking-wise; however, neither side had established much dominance in the midfield. 

That changed, however, with the second half. The Cheltenham trio of Sercombe, Kinsella and Pett began to win the battle of the midfield, with Pett especially impressing. On the contrary, Digby and Cousins failed to take any real hold of the match. With the pair getting increasingly caught in possession too often, the U’s only real hope was getting in behind the Cheltenham defence with the pace of Lyle Taylor and Jack Lankester. 

On the hour mark, this approach should have paid off. Lankester found himself in on goal before deciding to round the keeper and pull it back to nobody, much to the frustration of the large majority of the 7047 fans in attendance.  

Ultimately, United’s soft centre of Cousins and Digby proved costly. 64 minutes in, Cousins was too easily dispossessed by Matty Taylor who, having passed it to Will Ferry, ran the overlap to receive the ball and drive it into the bottom right hand corner.  

With 20 minutes to go and searching for an equaliser, United boss Neil Harris made a quadruple change. As one of the quartet, striker Macaulay Bonne made his home debut at the Cledara Abbey Stadium. 

With ten minutes left to play, Bonne had two guilt-edge chances in as many minutes to level things. Both times, Bonne was unable to properly connect with crosses from the right hand side and his finishing summed up United’s wastefulness.


Mountain View

Wrens soar in the BUCS league

From then on, the U’s failed to threaten Cheltenham’s lead and the game fizzled out to a disappointing 0-1 loss. 

Booed off the pitch, United ultimately proved too uneconomical in attack and too weak in midfield to have any justified qualms with the result. 

The result was a vital one for Cheltenham Town as they closed the gap from 20th placed Charlton to five points. For United, while only four points above the drop, games in hand mean it is not the time for serious panic about potential relegation. They can’t afford to be so wasteful in front of goal too often, however.