Cambridge United 1-0 Bolton Wanderers

  • August 28, 2021 | By Chris Mann
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Shilow Tracey scored the only goal at the Abbey Stadium as Cambridge United consigned Bolton to a first league defeat of the campaign.

In what proved to be a disappointing first-half for Wanderers, they deservedly trailed at the break courtesy of Tracey's 16th-minute strike, which arrived when George Williams' low cross from the right was swept into the far corner by the U's midfielder.

The Trotters rallied after the break and could have levelled soon after the restart when Josh Sheehan saw a deflected attempt bounce back off the base of a post, but few could argue about the result at the final whistle.

Having made eight changes to his team ahead of the midweek Carabao Cup exit at Wigan Athletic, Ian Evatt reverted back to the same side that beat Oxford United last Saturday as Wanderers looked to go unbeaten in their first five league games for the first time in five years.

In truth, the visitors were disappointing right from the off and almost fell behind inside the opening 90 seconds as a wayward cross from Williams was just about tipped behind by the fingertips of Joel Dixon.

Cambridge came even closer from the resulting corner as Paul Digby headed James Brophy's cross towards goal, where Antoni Sarcevic was positioned to clear off the line.

Sarcevic was then involved at the other end as Bolton pushed forward for the first time, taking possession of the ball and spraying a pass to Eoin Doyle, who was denied a certain tap-in by some outstanding last-ditch defending from Conor Masterson.

Oladapo Afolayan has impressed in the early stages of the campaign and had his first sight of goal with nine minutes played, cutting inside the challenge of Lloyd Jones before blasting an attempt over the bar from a narrow angle.

Cambridge looked threatening on the counter and almost broke the deadlock from the next attack, with Tracey getting the better of Declan John before firing into the stand.

The hosts had the ball in the net on 14 minutes as Brophy's cross was turned home by Joe Ironside, but referee Tom Nield disallowed the goal because of an offside flag.

United weren't to be denied for much longer, however, with Williams' low cross from the right-hand side finding an unmarked Tracey, who got in ahead of Ricardo Santos to sweep the ball into the bottom corner to make it 1-0.

From that point on, Cambridge were happy to allow Wanderers large spells of possession - much of which was inside their own half.

In a rare venture forward, George Johnston broke out of the backline just before the half-hour and fed the ball to Josh Sheehan, whose deflected drive went behind for a corner which ultimately came to nothing.

The only other chance to arrive before the break came on 37 minutes, as John's cross from the left was headed back across goal by Lloyd Isgrove, but Dimitar Mitov was alert to the danger and cleared before Doyle had chance to tap home.

With the teams unchanged for the second period, Wanderers immediately looked to get back on level terms and almost did within four minutes of the restart as John's cross was headed goalwards by Sheehan, only for the ball to take a deflection before rebounding away off the foot of the post.

Bolton maintained their pressure and had another sight of goal moments later, although MJ Williams couldn't keep his strike on target as it curled wide of goal.

Sheehan put Afolayan in on 57 minutes, only for his shot to be kept out by the legs of Mitov, shortly before Sheehan himself tried a speculative 30-yard drive which he dragged well wide of the target.

Cambridge were content to let the Trotters have the ball but remained a threat on the break, as evidenced on the hour as Tracey's pass to Wes Hoolahan resulted in a deflected attempt which landed in the arms of Dixon.

Williams headed wide from a Brophy corner as the clock ticked towards the midway point of the half, after which Doyle saw a header from a Sheehan corner blocked amid some half-hearted handball appeals.

With a little over 10 minutes to play, Cambridge were back on the attack and came close to doubling their lead as Alex Baptiste's half-clearance from a Sam Smith cross fell kindly to Liam O'Neil, whose shot from the edge of the box forced a smart save out of Dixon.

Bolton pressed forward desperately in search of a late equaliser but the closest they would come was in the final minute of normal time, as Sheehan's free-kick was cleared straight into the path of Afolayan, who volleyed wide to cap a forgettable day for the visiting side.

The stop-start nature to the Trotters' league campaign takes another break this coming Tuesday, when they host Port Vale in their opening group tie of this season's Papa John's Trophy.

Cambridge United: Mitov, Williams, Jones, Masterson, Iredale, Digby, O'Neil, Tracey (Knibbs 78), Hoolahan, Brophy (Dunk 90+1), Ironside (Smith 70)
Subs Not Used: Mannion, Weir, May, Lankester
Booked: Iredale, Digby, Hoolahan, O'Neil
Goals: Tracey 16

Bolton Wanderers: Dixon, John, Johnston (Baptiste 75), Santos, Jones (Kachunga 65), Williams (Delfouneso 81), Sheehan, Afolayan, Sarcevic, Isgrove, Doyle
Subs Not Used: Gilks, Tutte, Thomason, Gordon
Booked: Williams, Sarcevic, Santos

Referee: Tom Nield
Attendance: 6,124

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Accrington Stanley 0 0
2 Barnsley 0 0
3 Bolton Wanderers 0 0
4 Bristol Rovers 0 0
5 Burton Albion 0 0
View Full Standings >>


Who is Bolton's 2021/22 Player of the Year?
32.58% Oladapo Afolayan
30.96% Gethin Jones
21.72% Ricardo Almeida Santos
5.51% Declan John
4.05% Kieran Lee
3.08% MJ Williams
1.78% Joel Dixon
0.32% George Johnston