REPORT FROM FOOTBALL FIRST
Football First match report:
By John Lomas
transcribed by Carole
A TEXTBOOK free-kick from Shane Tudor in the final minute of stoppage time earned Cambridge a late point – and rattled Mansfield's promotion challenge.
The Stags looked to have won an otherwise unexciting contest in strong wind and heavy showers by a single Junior Mendes goal on 61 minutes.
But when Lee Williamson brought down Justin Walker with 92 minutes on the watch, up stepped Tudor to curl a brilliant free-kick high into the top left corner.
Mansfield manager Keith Curle said: “That hurt, but we have to live with it and the important thing is how we react as we have another massive game coming up on Tuesday.
“Cambridge came here to quieten the crowd, spoil the game and slow it down from the tempo we like to play at, which worked for the first 45 minutes.
“After the goal they had to change their shape and go for it, which they did. It was a good finish for their equaliser; but I thought the free-kick was a dubious one, and there were things in the lead up to the goal that shouldn't have happened. Overall, I thought we did enough to win the game, but at least some of the other results went for us.”
Although Mansfield had dominated possession and played the better football, the visitors will feel justice was done in gaining a share of the spoils.
In a dour first-half, Cambridge had sat back and defended well, but still created the two best opportunities when a hopeful Stuart Bimson cross caught the wind and hit the crossbar.
Then a long-range volley from Luke Guttridge forced keeper Kevin Pilkington to tip over as the ball threatened to dip into the net.
Mendes broke through on 61 minutes after he out-muscled defender Andy Duncan to get goal-side as the pair challenged for Pilkington's long clearance, and then tucked the ball past Shaun Marshall.
But United finished strongly and had two penalty claims turned down in the last 10 minutes, as a Tudor cross hit Bobby Hassell's hand shortly before Jermaine Easter went down as defender Tony Vaughan leaned on him.
Mansfield created few clear-cut chances on the day, and must now lift themselves for their game with Oxford at Field Mill on Tuesday night.
Cambridge assistant manager Dale Brooks was delighted with the point, and said: “We set our stall out to play for a point and went with a four-five-one formation.
“Up to their goal I thought we looked comfortable.
“After their goal we had to deal with a bit of pressure. But fair play to the lads, they stuck at it and grafted and we got a point with what was a fantastic free-kick in anyone's books, or anyone's league.
“It was a fantastic technique and a great bit of skill that justified our point.
“We showed tremendous character again just like last week, and we defended well as a unit.”
Mansfield Town………Cambridge Utd
59-----------Possession %---- 41
3------------Shots on Target---3
3------------Shots off Target---5
Latest | April 2004