Cambridge United secured all three Sky Bet League One points against Fleetwood Town thanks to Sullay Kaikai’s stoppage-time winner
Sullay Kaikai’s injury-time goal earned Cambridge United an important 2-1 win over Fleetwood Town at the newly sponsored Cledara Abbey Stadium this afternoon.
After a first half that wasn’t all that easy on the eye, it looked like the U’s would have to settle for their share of the spoils after Lyle Taylor’s debut goal was canceled out by bottom-of-the-table Cod Army. .
But as the referee’s watch ticked past the 90 minute mark, winger Kaikai was on hand to move United up to 16th, seven points clear of the Sky Bet League One relegation zone.
The first 45 minutes weren’t exactly a good advertisement for third-tier football. There was a real lack of quality in the attacking play of both teams, with numerous interruptions doing little to improve the fluidity.
The visitors set up Jack Stevens in the home goal in the 12th minute when a quick counter-attack ended and Phoenix Patterson saw his effort routinely saved at the post.
The U’s, meanwhile, struggled to ask many questions of the physically imposing Fleetwood backline. Kaikai – who played the unfamiliar false nine role with Elias Kachunga in support – found it particularly difficult and eventually switched back to the more comfortable environment of the right wing towards the end of the half.
That moved Jack Lankester into a more central position and it was the former Ipswich Town player who came closest to breaking the deadlock on the stroke of half-time with a dip from the edge of the penalty area which hit the crossbar and into the bar fell. hands of Jay Lynch in the Fleetwood goal.
The second half started in similarly lackluster fashion but life revived after an hour, shortly after the introduction of Taylor, who completed his move to United yesterday after a short spell at Wycombe Wanderers.
Fleetwood were the first to try their luck with Josh Vela’s running header forcing Stevens into action before the home side raced to the other end and saw Lankester curl a shot just wide after a neat passing exchange with Liam Bennett.
Taylor’s arrival provided United with a much-needed focal point. With the ex-Charlton Athletic and Nottingham Forest frontman able to keep the ball up and bring others into play, the hosts began to gain more possession in Fleetwood territory.
Liam Bennett, Danny Andrew and Lankester all had attempts to escape the goal before Taylor memorably marked his debut with 71 minutes on the clock. Youngster Brandon Njoku, who had come on a few seconds earlier in place of Kachunga, did well to turn into the penalty area. A sliding challenge took the ball away from the striker, but it fell kindly to the new signing and he made no mistake from close range.
Still, it was a lead that would last only seven minutes. Fleetwood forward Jayden Stockley was allowed to get to the right byline too easily and from there he sent a cross to the back post, where substitute Promise Omochere rose above Liam Bennett to nod in.
The match was now alive and Cambridge should have regained control of the score on their next attack. Taylor’s reverse pass freed Kaikai down the left wing and his low cross found Lankester all alone at the back post, but from six yards out he pushed his shot wide.
The equalizer put United out of action for a time and they will have felt their chance was gone when Ryan Bennett’s 90th minute header from Kaikai’s left corner went out for a goal-kick from the right flank.
However, in the first minute of extra time, the Abbey erupted. Taylor entered on the right side of the penalty area and while he was almost certainly shooting, the ball drifted across the goal and Kaikai raced in and smashed into the roof of the net.
Cambridge United: Stevens, L Bennett, R Bennett, Morrison, Andrew, Digby, Cousins, Lankester (90 May), Brophy (Taylor 56′), Kaikai, Kachuga (Njoku 70′, 90 May))
Fleetwood town: Lynch, Earl, Heneghan, Lawal, Boyes, Rooney, Dolan (Omochere 75′), Sarpong-Wiredu, Patterson, Vela, Stockley
Presence: 6,555 (104 Fleetwood)
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