Grays Ath 0 v 1 Cambridge City
CAMBRIDGE City will not claim an easier three points this season against a Blues team that failed to live up to their lofty league position. Gone was the commitment, cohesion and attacking intent shown in previous matches. Apart from a few exceptions they seemed totally lacking in energy failing to compete all over the park. Tackles were missed, passes were misplaced, tellingly the first meaningful save by Cambridge keeper Jamie Head came as late as the 71st minute illustrating the paucity and quality of Blues attacking endeavours.
Adam Watkins goal in the 25th minute came as no surprise in a horrendous first half from Blues. Frustratingly teams around them at the top of the table dropped points – had they won they would have shared top spot – the only consolation was their third place in the table was unaffected.
Right from the first kick off Cambridge looked sharper and more committed, they were quicker to the ball winning the crucial battles in midfield pinning Blues back. Watson was the fulcrum for much of Cambridge’s good work – allowed too much time and space he controlled the pace of the game setting up a series of Cambridge attacks.
Danny Sambridge was the first keeper called into action when Tony Burnett tested him with a rasping drive – pushing the ball away to safety. Cambridge’s domination in the early stages was made easier by Blues who continual gave the ball away whilst under no pressure.
Cambridge continued to dominate, the lively Matt Sparrow saw his shot on the turn fizz wide with Sambridge beaten – it was no surprise then when Cambridge went in front in the 25th minute. From a short corner Watkins picked up the ball, evading a couple of feeble challenges he made no mistake blasting past Sambridge via the woodwork.
Even going a goal behind failed to bring a reaction from Blues, they continued to look ragged and even when Nathan Fox managed to force an opening, his cross into the box failed to elicit a challenge from the front runners. In the closing minutes of the half Blues created their first hint of a goal chance, when a Mitchell Hahn long throw was nodded on by Steve King to Joao Carlos who flashed his header over.
After such a dismal showing in the first half Blues at least showed marginally more commitment to the cause at the start of the half – they did have the ball in the net when Manny Ogunrinde won a tussle with Head, but the referee deemed it a foul on the keeper. Ogunrinde followed up moments later – breaking clear he pulled the ball back to Carlos, who failed to hit the target seeing his effort sail over.
Despite seeing more of the ball Blues failed to capitalise, either taking to long to get a cross into the danger area or running into blind alleys playing into a well drilled Cambridge defence.
Frost, who buzzed around the park was denied twice in quick succession by Sambridge, he epitomised the contrast in energy levels between the two teams, Blues build up in contrast was laboured and predictable .
Blues continued to search for an equaliser without success – a rare chance fell to Carlos when his shot produced a diving save from Head – his first real save of any note late in the game. At the other end Cambridge came so close to registering a second when a shot from sub Ryan Sharman skimmed the bar.
A late flurry from Blues flattered to deceive when once again the delivery into the danger area was delayed and lacked accuracy enabling Cambridge to see out the final minutes.
So a first league defeat since August for Blues comes as a wake up call, maybe a hint of complacency has crept in to the squad, but they are now under no illusions that another lacklustre display like today will not be tolerated by the management or supporters in the future.
Sambridge, Fox (Adebiye 82), Joynes, Miller, McQueen, King, Muguo, M Ogunrinde (Pindy 74), Hahn (Callander 59), Dark, Carlos
Subs not used: Martin, T Ogunrinde,