REPORT | Cambridge United 1 Wanderers 2

Mendes celebration Cambridge

A superb second-half winner from Carlos Mendes Gomes lifted Wanderers back to the brink of the automatic promotion places, writes Pete Oliver.

Mendes Gomes marked his full league debut for the Whites with a lovely first-time volley from Josh Sheehan’s perfect pass as Ian Evatt’s men came from behind to secure a ninth away win of the season in League One.

Wanderers went behind early when Sullay Kaikai’s deflected effort found the back of the net via the boot of defender Eoin Toal.

But the Whites then produced an outstanding second-half performance to turn things round and make the most of one of their games in hand by securing the victory which lifted them level on points with Derby County in second place in the table.

Paris Maghoma claimed the leveller seven minutes after the break with the final touch to a Nathanael Ogbeta corner in a packed penalty area.

Mendes goal Cambridge

There might have been some debate over his seventh goal of the season as the ball seemed to bounce in off a number of bodies on its way into the net but the identity of the second scorer 10 minutes later was never in doubt.

Mendes Gomes came off the bench to score a big first league goal for the club at Northampton which earned a point 10 days ago.

And this time his high-class strike on his first start made it all three as Wanderers deservedly secured a first league success at the Abbey Stadium since 1985 to step up the momentum in the promotion race as Cambridge finished the game with 10 men following a late red card for substitute Lyle Taylor .

Wanderers had made four changes to their starting line-up, including a call-up for Mendes Gomes alongside Jon Dadi Bodvarsson in a new-look attack.

And the pair almost put the Whites ahead in the opening minutes. Cambridge keeper Jack Stevens was only able to parry Bodvarsson’s shot but under pressure from defender Ryan Bennett, Mendes Gomes couldn’t get a clean enough contact to force home the rebound.

Maghoma goal Cambridge

And rather than potentially be in front, Wanderers went behind after just eight minutes when Kaikai’s deflected effort looped over Coleman after the visitors had surrendered possession.

The U’s carried a limited threat after that, although Coleman did have to beat away another effort from Kaikai as the Wanderers’ keeper put in an assured night’s work.

At the other end, Wanderers had their moments but couldn’t pick out anyone in the box to test Stevens again.

The second half was a different story, though, as Evatt’s men raised the tempo and intensity to pin Cambridge back.

Nathanel Ogbeta was a regular threat down the left-hand side and after winning the decisive corner, delivered the ball for Bodvarsson to flick on and Maghoma to help force over the line.

That lifted Wanderers and the travelling fans and they were soon celebrating again when Mendes Gomes scored a beauty right in front of them.

Sheehan capped another masterful night with a perfectly weighted ball over the U’s defence which Mendes Gomes allowed to drop over his shoulder before steering a first-time volley past Stevens.

Iredale Taylor flare-up

Bodvarsson then saw a thumping volley of his own blocked and after Mendes Gomes poked another effort just wide at the end of an excellent move, Josh Dacres-Cogley fizzed a long-range strike narrowly past a post.

Wanderers had to endure one moment of concern when they made a hash of playing out from a goal kick and Toal needed to make a crucial block from James Brophy before Jack Lankester put the follow-up wide.

But when needed they stood firm, repelling a number of long throws into the box and nullifying the threat of the U’s who finished a man down thanks to Taylor’s red mist which saw him lash out at former Cambridge defender Jack Iredale.

The strapped-up Iredale, a first-half replacement for the injured Caleb Taylor, fully played his part, despite several stitches in his ear from a weekend war wound.

And his commitment to the cause epitomised the fighting spirit Wanderers showed to get the result they needed to re-assert themselves near the top and take a seven-match unbeaten run into further back-to-back away games at north-west rivals Blackpool and Wigan.

Wanderers: Coleman; Jones, Taylor (Iredale 40), Toal; Sheehan; Dacres-Cogley, Maghoma (Morley 73), Dempsey, Ogbeta; Mendes Gomes (Collins 78), Bodvarsson (Adeboyejo, 78). Substitutes: Iredale, Forrester, Ramsay, Jerome.

Booked: Sheehan

Cambridge United: Stevens; L Bennett (Gibbons 83), R Bennett, Morrison, Andrew; Digby (Thomas 71), Cousins; Kaikai (Lankester 71), Kachunga (Taylor 72), Brophy; Bonne. Substitutes: Mannion, Ibsen Rossi, Taylor, May, Gibbons.

Booked: Kachunga

Sent off: Taylor

Referee: Dave Rock

Attendance: 6,525 (903 away)

Read Time: 4 mins