Scottish Daily Mail

THIS IS HISTORY

Minnows milk their magical moment as fans celebrate an epic win over struggling Magpies

- CRAIG HOPE

WHEN Cambridge United’s Cup heroes dropped to the turf and sat in a line in front of the Leazes End, you wondered if it was in preparatio­n for some Boat Race-themed celebratio­n. They had, after all, spent much of the afternoon rowing back against a wave of Newcastle attacks.

Alas, it was not. Rather, they were simply knackered. They also wanted to savour the moment. High above them, in the country’s most-elevated away end, were 5,000 of their supporters, singing and dancing at an altitude that just about captured the scale of their team’s achievemen­t.

For this was no watered-down FA Cup upset. Newcastle fielded their strongest possible XI and had 47,000 of their own fans inside a stadium that pulsed from the first beat of a hearty and genuine contest.

The presence of Magpies’ chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan — head of the £700billion Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund — also served to amplify the magnitude of Cambridge’s victory.

They had won one in eight in League One before Saturday’s game. When the teamsheets were revealed an hour before kick-off — including £12million home debutant Kieran Trippier — Newcastle’s odds further shortened. This, we assumed, would be a formality.

But for 11 guys in yellow, it was never going to be that black and white. From the off they played with a scent of magic in their nostrils, and no player more so than goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov. His sorcery is the reason they are in the fourth round.

Even the home fans applauded one first-half save when he brushed a Jacob Murphy shot on to the crossbar. That generosity of spirit had gone, however, by the time the Bulgarian was tipping over Joelinton’s goal-bound header in the 95th minute.

By then Cambridge were in front, and the scorer was the player who had revealed in the build-up that, as a youngster, he would travel north from Middlesbro­ugh to St James’ Park to watch his hero Alan Shearer.

Joe Ironside has spent much of his career outside the Football League and one of his most memorable goals was at Old Trafford for Sheffield United — albeit in the FA Youth Cup.

This is why the FA Cup still matters, making memories that better all that has gone before.

Mitov and Ironside were delayed in joining their comrades on the grass afterwards, given the media attention on the pair. And how about this for a story — they are not only team-mates, but house-mates.

‘Yes, me and Joe live together!’

beamed Mitov. ‘There is no nicer person on the planet to score here.’

Ironside was just as compliment­ary. ‘Dimi has kept us in the game with some brilliant saves,’ he said. ‘The one at the end where he fingertipp­ed it over the bar… he was absolutely outstandin­g.’

Manager Mark Bonner added: ‘We got promoted last season during a pandemic with no fans. We were unable to celebrate with anybody.

‘We had a few hundred outside the ground on promotion-winning day and 20 in an Airbnb at Leyton Orient in the corner of the stadium.

‘So, to savour these moments and create memories for supporters and players is a major thing for us. They will stay with you for ever.’

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Time of their lives: Ecstatic Cambridge players hail their fans

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