Lambs throw away three goal lead
20 November 2010
Des Lyttle took his squad, one week ahead of the FA Cup trip to Carlisle, to the Abbey Stadium home of Cambridge United looking for a much needed three point haul with the stats showing that The Lambs had never beaten Cambridge on their own turf in three previous attempts.
Martin Ling's side, beaten just once in eight outings, sat just one point ahead in the table before kick off with the U's one defeat coming late into injury time on Tuesday night at Huddersfield in their FA Cup replay.
Lyttle was forced to make do without Alex Rodman ruled out with a back problem, but had brought in striker Bakary Bojang during the week who started the game on the bench.
After observing a minutes silence United got the match underway and Tamworth had two early half chances with Barrow venturing forward but scuffing a shot well off target and Thomas getting in a good position on the left wing but over hitting his cross.
At the other end on 5, Wright dragged his shot wide of the left hand post from 20 yards but neither side could take charge of the game until on 9 Gray fired a low cross into the danger area and Atkins got his first real touch.
Perry fired low into the box shortly after and Thomas struck the rebound sweetly but found a defender in his way.
Willmott was forced to leave the field on 11 with a bloody returning shortly after as the home side won a freekick on the left. Tamworth defended strongly through Oakes but his long ball to Thomas was too long and Cambridge regained possession.
The fog was starting to creep in through the corners of the Stadium and niggly fouls and an offside prevented Perry from going clean through on 18.
Ex-Lamb Russell won a corner on 19 from a jinking run and blocked cross but Atkins was equal to the ball into the area before Barrow won a flag kick on the left at the other end which Oakes played short to Thomas and after the ball came back via a punch from keeper Naisbitt, under pressure from Smith, Thomas rifled home the rebound (1-0, 20 mins)
The U's won a corner of their own on 23 which skimmed off the heads of the Lambs defence and allowed them to work it out calmly but were forced to play keep ball in midfield until Smith's flick to the forward rushing Barrow was too strong for him to catch.
Tait made a surging run into the area down the right wing on the half hour but was unable to take it round Naisbitt as the keeper came out to meet him and Smith's cross was teasing if nothing more, on 32.
Jennings was booked for a late challenge on Tait in the next move and from the right sided freekick freekick Oakes found Perry for a fine close range header into the far corner to double the lead (2-0, 32 mins)
Wylde was adjudged to have brought down Russell giving Roberts a freekick on 36 but Perry was on hand to boot it clear and The Lambs looked rarely troubled and on 42 Barrow perhaps should have done better when MacKenzie battled well to push the ball wide to him as he sprinted into the box, but shot wildly off target.
The homes fans were starting to vent their frustration at the ineffectual United attack as two minutes added time was shown at the end of the half.
A freekick for a foul on Barrow by the left hand corner set up Oakes once again but Perry couldn't keep his shot down as a good first period ended for The Lambs.
Tamworth started the second half, and Cambridge looked a bit more up for the match obviously looking to make amends for a being second best in first half by The Lambs.
Stavrinou required treatment in the centre circle after a clash on 50 left him prostrate on the deck but when more passes went astray, shouts of consternation rang from the home terraces again.
However on 52 Tait headed away from Gray after Russell's ball into the area from the right almost dropped nicely onto his teammate's head and Russell was involved again with a neat ball to Stavrinou which Wylde and Mitchell combined to clear a minute later.
Cambridge won a freekick on the left on 54 which Willmott floated for Wright and he somehow put the ball wide of the near post from 6 yards out giving Tamworth a wake up call.
Then, Gray and Russell combined looking for Wright's head and Tait was on hand again to concede a corner which Oakes headed clear. Tamworth broke through Thomas who in turn found Perry but his shot from 25 yards cleared the roof over the old terracing behind the goal.
U's kept up their pressure forcing Mitchell to head behind for a corner on the right on 57 which Atkins collected at height and Tamworth countered. Thomas made the most of a slip by Roberts to advance into the area and fire into the net from the left of the box to make it three (3-0, 58 mins)
Wilkinson came on for MacKenzie a minute later, and Wright nearly found a fellow player with a stabbed ball into the box which Barrow turned behind for a flag kick, but it was wasted by the home side.
Thomas went in search of his hat-trick on 63 but hit the hoardings to the right of the goal with a driven effort from 25 yards.
Then on 67 Wright struck for goal and a handball was awarded against Mitchell (who was booked) allowing Willmott to fire home from the penalty spot despite Atkins diving the right way (3-1, 68 mins)
Patrick then made a great run into the box and fired home through a crowded area to set up a tense finish on 74 (3-2, 74 mins)
Marriott who had been on for just a couple of minutes, then made it three all, courtesy of a chip from outside the area which went in off Tait after striking the bar (3-3, 77 mins)
Bojang came on for his debut with ten to go and Tamworth desperate to turn the game back in their favour.
The Lambs attacked but Thomas couldn't get a touch on a low cross from the right and then Willmott flashed a similar ball past Atkins' goal which went by untouched and out for a goal kick.
A comedy of missed backpasses and missed shots almost saw Gray get a final touch on the ball as it pinged around the area before Atkins collected and Patrick brought a good save from the kieeper with a strike from the edge of the area on 88.
Wylde couldn;t get the ball out from beneath his feet on 89 after Naisbitt stopped a shot with his feet and the home side raced straight to the other end to win a corner on 90 but Oakes found Bradley who failed to put a shot on target after advancing down the left.
Four minutes added time was shown at the end of the game and the offside flag denied a Lambs effort being unleashed before Cambridge countered and Atkins punched clear.
The U's won a corner on 93 which Oakes hoofed out of the box and the final whistle blew on ntwo points dropped rather than a point gained.
Atkins, Tait, Oakes, Wylde, Mitchell, Smith J, MacKenzie (Wilkinson 59), Perry (Bojang 80), Thomas, Bradley, Barrow
Subs: Marshall, Lake-Gaskin, Sheridan
Yellow Cards: Mitchell 67
Cambridge United Team:
Naisbitt, Roberts, Jennings (Marriott 73), Coulson, Partridge, Russell, Wright, Willmott, McAuley, Gray, Stavrinou (Patrick 63)
Subs: Brown, Platt, Ives
Yellow Cards: Jennings 32
Referee: Mr. L. Collins