Cambridge United’s 5-1 demolition of FC Halifax Town wasn’t enough to put them top of the Skrill Conference Premier table, but the U’s did led the way for 19 of the 46 rounds. Ultimately, they fell 19 point short of Luton’s formidable total of 101, and a 7-2 victory over Hyde on April 12th was enough to secure a spot in the playoffs.
Cambridge’s second game saw them sneak a point back from Welling, but dropped to their lowest position of the season (3rd) as Southport netted a last-minute winner at Hyde to become the only team in the division to win both of their opening games. Ryan Donaldson scored his second of the season to join Lee Gregory in the scoring charts, but the two of them were behind Marcus Kelly, whose opening day hat-trick placed him top with three.
Then followed a trip to Aldershot, where a Joe Oastler own goal in the 12th minute set up Cambridge’s Bank Holiday weekend, where they took four from a possible six points at home to Lincoln and away at Kenilworth Road and Luton. Despite their strong finish at the end of the season, Luton at this point were still in 14th having won just once. The two played out a 0-0 draw that saw Cambridge pepper Mark Tyler’s goal without reward, and John Still claimed his side “cancelled out” the threat of United.
August ended in the same way it started: a home win. Tamworth were the recipients of a 3-0 defeat, as Luke Berry scored twice, and Adam Cunnington netted another penalty to take their respective tallies to three apiece, good for a share of third in the scoring charts, and Cambridge climbed back up to top of the table. Cunnington scored in his second and third consecutive games, both 1-0 wins, thereafter, as Hyde and Gateshead were beaten, and Cambridge maintained their lead. Only Nuneaton, who started their season like a house on fire, displaced the U’s in September, and from there, Richard Money’s men never looked back. They led the league from 21st of September after a 2-1 victory over Forest Green, until a 0-0 stalemate against Nuneaton on December 28th, where they were overtaken by Luton.
That draw against Nuneaton turned out to be their last game for nearly a month, before the 1-1 draw at The Shay on January 18th, long after the departure of 10-goal man Kwesi Appiah. The 23-year old was key to the U’s successes in his time there, despite making just 14 appearances. Money was keen to extend his loan, but parent club Crystal Palace moved him up the pyramid to Notts County.
By the time Cambridge took on Woking on April 10th, they had all-but confirmed their play-off spot having gained a nice 10-point cushion, and with the title lost to Luton, they could afford to take their foot off the gas and lost their last four games of the season to Gateshead, Chester, Lincoln and Kidderminster Harriers. Halifax’s last-day draw meant that Cambridge would be travelling to The Shay for the first leg of the play-off semis, and Halifax fans will be dreaming of a poetic finish to the season at the R Costings Stadium on Sunday, conquering their conquerors to secure a place at Wembley.
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