McDonald strike brings home the points
28 January 2012
Tamworth travelled to The R Costings (nee Abbey) Stadium, home of Cambridge United in the middle of a trio of increasingly tricky away games. The first had ended in defeat to fellow mid-table side Ebbsfleet United. On the back of two wins over Telford United, The U's added weight to their ongoing FA Trophy quest and 7th place in the league. And of course next weekend The Lambs would be travelling to top of the table Fleetwood.
Cambridge United boss Jez George had added striker Andy Pugh from Welling to his squad for a £15,000 fee during the week, and while ex-Lamb Tom Shaw would be pushing for a starting place against his old club there was no such luck for Michael Wylde out for a month following a necessary operation.
Meanwhile Lambs boss Marcus Law was struggling with team selection and Danny Thomas' knee injury coupled with that to recently signed Luke Hubbins in midweek only compounded his headache. This was reflected by the fact that Dale Belford was forced to take a place on the bench as Law made two changes to the side that suffered the 3-0 reversal at Stonebridge Road with Sam Oji and Scott Barrow returning to the starting line up.
[Apologies for any typos in today's report I have given part of my ‘area' in the press bench up to allow the guys doing the live audio description / commentary for the partially sighted (for others in the ground) to do their sterling work]
KICK OFF: Tamworth, in red, white and red start the game kicking away from the 100 or so Lambs fans in the seating stand behind the goal.
1: A long ball forward is taken by Hedge with Gash closing down on the keeper.
3: Shaw and Berry both find openings in the Lambs back line but Hedge is not troubled by the resultant shots.
5: Dunk breaks down the left and squares for Berry but his shot is scooped behind for a left sided corner by Jarvis which Berry glances just past the far post with a deft header.
8: Cambridge attack again and a smart right footed shot from the right channel by Jennings is blocked in the box. As the ball comes back out McKoy concedes a freekick and Carew curls the dead ball,. Right footed, into the Hedge's hands.
12: A fine game of head tennis ensues for a dozen or so exchanges over the halfway line and although The Lambs are awarded a freekick for a foul on McDonald inside the centre circle the ball is lost quickly.
13: McKoy puts a good ball down the left channel for Patterson to run on to but he is a yard off side and ‘keeper Naisbitt restarts play.
14: Play quickly switches to the final third of the opposite end and a freekick is flicked on into the hands of Hedge whose long ball allows Tamworth to keep possession and push forward but a stray pass is picked up by the home side and Cambridge try and build from the back.
15: Carew's cross come shot looks to be going out from the right wing and indeed it does, but only just as Hedge slips in his area and the ball lands just over the bar and on the netting on top of the goal.
21: Amongst other songs ‘You're supposed to be at home' emanates from the Tamworth fans and echoes around the otherwise generally quiet ground which is surprising given the number of people on the other two and a half sides of the pitch.
23: The volume increases as the home side go on the attack, but Cambridge are forced all the way back to Naisbitt before Patterson receives the ball and goe son a good run along the right by-line. His pull back is not met well though and Cambridge counter down their right before Shaw fires a cross field ball out of play on the other side.
26: McDonald chips the ball forward over the last defender for Patterson to run on to and although he is pushed a little wide, he forces Naisbitt into a save at his near post which the keeper fumbles before smothering.
31: Tamworth go on the attack and keep the ball in the final third well, but Green's curling ball just in front of Naisbitt is headed back to the keeper by a defender.
32: At the other end Oji is forced to slide the ball out of play for a corner with Gash bearing down and Carew tries his luck from distance when the ball comes from the flag kick but his shot rises off target.
35: The Lambs win a corner on the right but McDonald's ball into the area is headed away by Jennings who gets clattered in the process and as quick as the play started it is halted by both a flag and the whistle.
38: Another corner is forthcoming when Isacc finds his way blocked and this time Oji gets a clear header away forcing Naisbitt to tip the effort over the bar for a flag kick on the opposite side. Cambridge defend strongly though and The Lambs are unable to create shooting chance.
41: Cambridge go on the attack down the right and Isaac concedes a foul which the referee is not happy with, but Jenning's dead ball is poor and Tamworth counter attack, winning a freekick of their own on the right wing. Barrow receives the ball on the left of the box and his chip back into the area is put behind for another corner on the right but Jennings is there once again and Barrow is forced to play the ball back to Hedge.
42: Cambridge have the ball in the net, but only following a foul on Hedge. As the ball ricocheted up into the air from a defensive block by Oji, the keeper was bundled to the floor and the referee quickly rightly blew his whistle.
45: One minute added time is shown at the end of the first half which ends without further incident.
KICK OFF: The U's got the second half away with Tamworth now having the ‘added' incentive of trying to score in front of the travelling fans.
The Lambs went on the offensive immediately forcing Naisbitt to clear his lines under pressure from Gudger.
GOAL: 50: A shot from the left channel by Liam McDonald takes a deflection and loops over Naisbitt to give Tamworth the lead (1-0, 50 mins)
54: Patterson almost makes it two, but turns and shoots over the bar from the right of the box.
56: Another chance falls this time to Green but Gudger slid a pass to the right of the box and the former was unable to get any direction of real power on the effort, totally failing to test Naisbitt.
60: Pugh makes his debut for Cambridge.
69: Hedge saves well from a right footed drive by Shaw and Cambridge continue to push winning a couple of corners as the clock ticks on.
72: A third corner comes on the right again which Thorpe fails to put anywhere and Barrow clears .
74: The Lambs head down the other end of the field but Isaac and Gudger are hindered in their attempts to get anywhere near goal.
76: Back down at the opposite goal, Hudson saw his goal bound header caught by Hedge.
83: Thorpe is booked for a bad challenge on Barrow as Cambridge make their third change of the game.
89: After a period of play where both sides fail to get anywhere near the opposite boxes, Cambridge win a corner, but Gash's header is very poor and he is visibly furious with himself. The lambs fans keep on signing though!
90: Hedge collects a tame header easily as four minutes added time is shown by the fourth official.
92: Pugh gets on the end of a looping ball in the box and forces Hedge to make a brave save but he is clattered in the process and a foul is given as the ball is bouncing dangerously in the area.
94: Hedge is the saviour again somehow clawing a header from Gash out from under the corner of bar and post much to the dismay of the home faithful and Patterson is booked as the ball heads down field for a bad tackle.
The final whistle blows on three points The Lambs.
Hedge, Courtney, Francis, Oji, McDonald, Patterson, Green, Gudger, Isaac, Barrow McKoy
Subs: Reynolds, Shariff, Wallen, Belford, Headley
Yellow Cards: Patterson 90
Cambridge United Team:
Naisbitt, Roberts, Jennings, Shaw, Gash, Carew (Thorpe 68), Dunk, Johnson (Hughes 83), Jarvis (Pugh 60), Berry, Hudson
Subs: McAuley, Eades
Yellow Cards: Thorpe 83
Referee: Mr. D. Whitton