Report: Cambridge United 1-2 Sunderland AFC

Cambridge United 1-2 Sunderland AFC

Sunderland moved within one win of the Sky Bet League One summit on Saturday following a windswept win over Cambridge United.

Alex Pritchard’s second goal in as many games opened the scoring at the Abbey Stadium when his deep corner curled over a crowded penalty area and into the net. 

The home side struck back with 27 minutes played through Sam Smith, but Nathan Broadhead soon took centre stage and a 25-yard thunderbolt handed the Lads a 2-1 advantage at the break. 

Defensive resilience was required in abundance following the restart as torrential rain swirled towards Thorben Hoffman’s goal, but the German stopper and his team-mates showed immense grit and determination to claim victory.

The Lads made two changes for the encounter – Tom Flanagan and Leon Dajaku came into the side – and they were forced into a further switch ahead of kick-off, as Corry Evans picked up an injury in the warm-up and Lynden Gooch was restored to the starting XI.

Mark Bonner’s side crafted the first opening of the game, but Smith’s effort was blocked behind after the winger combined with Wes Hoolahan and weaved his way into the box. 

The Lads volleyed back and a powerful strike from Broadhead cannoned off a Cambridge defender, as the sides traded blows during the opening exchanges. 

Swirling conditions caused uncertainty across the pitch, but fortune favoured the Lads with 16 minutes on the clock and Pritchard’s corner looped directly into the net. 

Hoolahan led the Cambridge response and the 39-year-old sparked the equaliser, as Joe Ironside fed Smith and the winger rifled a low finish beyond Hoffmann. 

Lee Johnson’s side stuck to their task despite the setback and they continued to create chances, but the U’s displayed grit and determination and remained a threat in the final third.  

A moment of magic from Broadhead ensured the Black Cats led 2-1 at the break; the Everton loanee dispatching a laser-guided finish into the top corner from 25 yards. 

Driving rain put Cambridge on the front foot during the second period, but Hoffmann produced a fine save to push Ironside’s header to safety following the restart. 

The German stopper saved again shortly after, albeit the offside flag was raised, and a free-flowing counter almost led to a third, as Dan Neil, Pritchard and Stewart combined before the latter’s strike was blocked. 

A hopeful ball forward was plucked out of the air by Conor Masterton after the hour mark, but an excellent challenge from Bailey Wright prevented the defender from pulling the trigger. 

Similar heroics followed from Gooch as James Brophy stared down on goal, with Hoffmann rising to the challenge as an aerial bombardment ensued. 

The U’s continued to push forward with the wind quite literally in their sails, but the Lads refused to give in and ensured they returned to Wearside with three points in tow. 

Cambridge United: Mitov, Williams, Iredale, Digby, Brophy (Knibbs 77), Ironside, Smith, Dunk, Hoolahan, May (Tracey 77), Masterson.

Subs not used: McKenzie-Lyle, Okedina, Weir, Lankester, Worman.

Sunderland AFC: Hoffmann, Flanagan, Doyle, Dajaku, Broadhead, Gooch, Stewart, Winchester, Pritchard (Harris 78), Neil, Wright.

Subs not used: Patterson, Alves, Embleton, O’Brien, Dunne.

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