Cambridge United 2, Fleetwood Town 0
AFTER 193 days, during which they had won 23 matches and drawn six, and scored 79 goals and conceded just 23, Fleetwood Town have finally been beaten in the Conference.
That 29-match unbeaten sequence had seen Town crowned Blue Square Bet Premier champions nine days ago and Micky Mellon’s men couldn’t lift themselves to continue their run at the R Costings Abbey Stadium.
It means Town fell one short of the record 30-match unbeaten run set by Crawley last season, though victory over Luton at Highbury on Saturday would see Micky Mellon’s men beat Crawley’s record points tally of 105 by one.
Goals from Jack Eades and Rory McAuley in the first half-hour made it a good day for most in the crowd of 2,555, which included 189 away supporters.
Peter Cavanagh and Nathan Pond made way for Peter Till and Kieran Charnock in Town’s starting XI as Mellon resisted wholesale changes to his side.
Cambridge manager Jez George was forced into making one change after Hereford United recalled Harry Pell, with Eades earning a place in the starting line-up. Adam Marriott was the only player on the bench to have started a league game for the Us.
The home side started well, but Town began to test their opposition as a low shot from Andy Mangan forced keeper Danny Naisbitt into a save. They were dealt a blow, however, when Jamie McGuire was stretchered off with a serious-looking facial injury after ten minutes and Jamie Milligan was brought on to replace him.
Within two minutes of the resumption, Cambridge had taken the lead. Ross Jarvis’ delivery fell to Eades, who unleashed a powerful strike from inside the area.
Lee Fowler managed to clear but the assistant referee signalled that the ball had crossed the line, McAus smashing in the rebound just in case. Town responded well to win a series of corners, but Mangan’s heavy touch from Milligan allowed Tom Shaw to win the ball back in a promising position for the away side.
United were dealing adequately with Town’s pressure and applying a fair degree of their own.
Shaw and Michael Gash got in each other’s way as they dodged Town’s defence, but still got a shot in which Scott Davies blocked.
Fleetwood were looking unusually frail at the back as Cambridge turned up the heat. Davies saved yet again from James Jennings, and Luke Berry’s efforts at the near post were directed behind for another corner.
It was from this set-piece that United extended their lead on the half-hour. Goodall’s clearance from Jennings’ cross fell to McAuley, who fired past Davies from close range.
Town conceded possession straight from kick-off and allowed Cambridge to push forward. Berry had two chances in quick succession in an uncomfortable period for the champions.
Jamie Vardy’s header went wide shortly before the five minutes of stoppage time. Mellon’s team seemed determined to find a way back into the game after the interval, desperation perhaps setting in as Vardy took a tumble outside the box, much to the displeasure of the home fans.
No foul was given then, nor when Charnock claimed to have been shoved in the area. Gareth Seddon was on the receiving end of various balls into the area for Town but struggled to make an impact.
His header from Mangan’s left-side cross lacked power and was easily caught by Naisbitt. Then Seddon he controlled Goodall’s high pass well but Shaw reacted quickest to clear the danger.
Cambridge made their only substitution in the 66th minute, bringing on Jordan Patrick in place of Eades, while efforts from Goodall and Seddon came to nothing for Town.
United had no intention of putting all of their efforts into defending, however. Shaw was invited forwards as Town’s defence backed away. His strike was cleared but deflected back into the path of Liam Hughes, forcing Davies to rescue his side once again. Ryan Crowther replaced Till following a three-month loan spell at Blue Square Bet Premier-bound Hyde United.
Danny Rowe replaced Seddon after 73 minutes as United but further chances through Hughes and Berry, the latter prompting Davies into a magnificent save, diving to his left.Vardy shot wide but Cambridge held on for a deserved victory, while Town will have one more chance to write their name in the record books.
Cambridge: Naisbitt, Jennings, McAuley, Hudson, Thorpe, Shaw, Jarvis, Berry, Eades (Patrick 67) Gash, Hughes; not used: Corker, Brighton, Hurst, Marriott
Fleetwood: Davies, Beeley, McNulty, Charnock, Goodall, Till (Crowther 51), McGuire (Milligan 15), Fowler, Mangan, Seddon (Rowe 74), Vardy; not used: Stephenson, Pond.
Ref: R Wigglesworth, Att: 2,555