Relief for Dunne as U’s avoid a slip-up
CAMBRIDGE United avoided a potential banana skin by edging past Basingstoke Town and interim boss Joe Dunne believes his players’ resilience following a week from hell is a testament to their professionalism.
Jeff Hughes nodded a 19th-minute winner but the hosts were made to work hard by a Basingstoke side who sit bottom of the table two divisions below Cambridge.
It was a far cry from last year’s FA Cup exploits for the U’s when they took Manchester United to a fourth-round replay but after manager Richard Money was sacked five days ago, Dunne was more concerned about getting the job done – in any fashion.
“The focus of the tie was to get through and we have done that,” he said.“You call these games banana skins but the absolute minimum we expected was to win.
“How we got through we didn't really mind and after the week we have had – I think it was an unbelievably professional performance from the team.
“Overall it could have been a lot easier but at the end of the day we are one step closer to possibly completing the kind of euphoric scenes we had here last year.
“We created some real clear cut chances but we just weren't clinical enough to put the final touch on it.”
The game started quietly before Luke Berry brilliantly weaved between four Basingstoke players but fired just over the crossbar.
The Football League side did take the lead on 19 minutes as Harrison Dunk’s excellent delivery was met with aplomb by midfielder Hughes, who headed into the far corner.
The Cambridge domination continued after the goal as Dragons keeper Aaron Howe denied Robbie Simpson with a fine save but Basingstoke, who last made the FA Cup second round back in 2006 finished the half the stronger as Louis Soares clipped the crossbar with a free-kick.
The impressive Soares continued to look the most likely source of an equaliser as he fizzed a low shot just past the post.
But home substitute Rory Gaffney’s first touch almost brought a second goal as his volley was well saved by Howe.
Liam Enver-Marum’s 35-yard volley beat Chris Dunn but clipped the post before the striker had a goal disallowed and David Ray forced an excellent Dunn save late on.
And Basingstoke boss Jason Bristow is convinced their second-half display warranted at least another chance.
“The first half hour we probably showed them too much respect and allowed them to get a lot of crosses in the box, which we knew was their strength,” he said.
“The second half, I thought we were the better team. On the balance of play, a replay wouldn’t have been harsh.
“We could have nicked a draw and we could have nicked a win on another day.”
STAR MAN LUKE BERRY Cambridge