Sky Bet League One’s gap extended to six points after Cambridge United lost 2-1 at home to Charlton Athletic this afternoon.
All the damage was done during a lackluster first half at Abe Stadium. From the moment Miles Leybourne put Charlton ahead in the 14th minute, Manchester United seemed devoid of any confidence.
Addicks struck again before the break, but it was much different for the home team who reappeared after the restart, one that started to win the ball upfield and question a previously untroubled defense. However, this was a very late case as second-from-bottom United saw their troubling stretch of form come to just two wins from their previous 21 league matches, in which they scored just 10 goals.
The visitors’ opener came from the game’s first meaningful chance. The United defense appealed for offside against Jesurun Rak-Sakyi as he advanced to pass Sean Clare’s high pass down the right, but the flag was nowhere near in sight. Rak Sacchi wasn’t loitering around either, lunging into the box and then digging in a low cross giving Libourne the ball from six yards out.
Crystal Palace loanee Rak-Saki had been causing United trouble all afternoon and was next to try his luck in the 18th minute, but his header from Abe Morgan’s right-wing free-kick deflected wide.
However, there was no mistaking the striker’s radar after 10 minutes when his run close to the post was found by Morgan’s delivery and he slotted the ball into the left of Dimitar Mitov’s upright.
In contrast, United offered little threat as an attacking force. Indeed, the closest they came during the first half to upsetting a score was injury time when Charlton defender Michael Hector flew into the side-netting.
Head coach Mark Bonner made changes during the break, bringing in Shiloh Tracy, Ben Wurman and Steve Seddon in place of Sam Smith, Harvey Nips and Michael Morrison. It meant switching from a three-man defense to a four-man defense, and it at least gave United a little more control.
In the 52nd minute after James Brophy and Jack Lancaster both missed shooting opportunities, Ben Worman pulled the trigger from 20 yards out, but Ashley Maynard Brewer saw it all the way and stopped comfortably.
There was more hard work for the Charlton keeper four minutes later when Ryan Bennett rose high to meet a Lancaster corner from the left, only for Maynard Brewer to make a stop.
In the 65th minute, some incessant play ended with Wurmann on the right and winger’s cross found Joe Ironside at the back post, yet the center forward was unable to direct his header towards goal.
They kept investigating and eventually made it count in the 72nd minute. Lankester’s swinging corner was moved towards the back post by Ryan Bennett to stretch Lloyd Jones, who managed to direct his shot past Maynard-Brewer.
The goal gave United extra life as Tracy was twice saved by the last balls while Ironside headed home another dangerous corner kick for Lancaster.
But then Charlton did an effective job of stopping the Cambridge charge. They slowed down the game and started to hold the ball better. It also seemed to offload United, who despite showing plenty of endeavor never seemed to score an equalizing goal in the dying minutes.
Cambridge United: Mitoff, Morrison (Seddon 46′), R Bennett, Jones, L Bennett, Brophy (Williams 89′), Digby, Lancaster, Knipps (Worman 46′), Smith (Tracy 46′), Ironside
Charlton Athletic: Maynard Brewer, Thomas, Hector, Ennis, Claire, Dobson, Fraser, Morgan (Kilkenny 73 min), Libourne (Kanu 46 min), Campbell (Payne 79 min), Rak Saki (Boone 90 min)
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