REPORT | Wanderers 2 Cambridge United 0

collins goal

Aaron Collins scored his first goal in a Wanderers’ shirt as the Whites reaffirmed their place in the promotion race with a dominant and welcome win, writes Pete Oliver.

After successive away defeats had brought to an end a seven-game unbeaten run, the Whites enjoyed the home comforts of a return to the Toughsheet Community Stadium as they efficiently banked all three points to remain outside the top two only on goal difference.

George Thomason scored for the second Saturday running to take his tally for the season to five to ease any potential anxiety with the opening goal before half-time.

Collins then guaranteed a quick-fire double over the U’s with a cleverly-taken second goal 20 minutes into the second half to open his account for the club and get Ian Evatt’s men back on the front foot with 11 games of the campaign to go.

And at the other end, Joel Coleman kept a first clean sheet in nine league games for the Whites on a day when Wanderers did everything asked of them to stay with the relentless pace at the top.

Collins chance Cambridge

The season-ending injury for Carlos Mendes Gomes meant one change to Wanderers’ line-up from theirt mid-week loss at local rivals Wigan as Collins returned to make his third start in a Whites’ shirt.

And it was a superb cross from the January signing that almost led to the perfect start for Evatt’s side as they looked to respond to a tough week with a 12th home league success of the season.

A driven ball in from Collins reached Josh Dacres-Cogley at the far post but his close-range finish went too high to canon against the crossbar seven minutes in.

Cambridge, playing with most men behind the ball as they looked to avoid a hat-trick of defeats since losing to Wanderers at the Abbey Stadium less than a fortnight ago, then threatened on the break in controversial fashion.

Josh Sheehan looked to be clearly dragged back in midfield but referee Ollie Yates allowed the U’s to counter for Sullay Kaikai, whose deflected effort had given the Cambridge the lead in the last meeting, to see another shot ricochet off a Wanderers’ defender and over the bar.

That apart, it was a familiar story as Wanderers dominated possession as they probed for the opening.

There were good chances as Dacres-Cogley forced Jack Stevens into an excellent save after being picked out by Eoin Toal’s wonderful pass and a cross from Nathanael Ogbeta hit Collins in front of goal and bounced clear.

Thomason goal Cambridge

But the relief was still clear when Thomason did deservedly find the breakthrough 11 minutes before half-time.

Again, Wanderers patiently built the play before Sheehan claimed yet another assist with a ball into his midfield partner who found the space to drill a low right-footed shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area.

Thomason had also scored the opening goal at Blackpool a week ago but this time the Whites looked to make sure they wouldn’t surrender the advantage by peppering the visitors’ penalty area up to half-time.

Without a second goal, though, Wanderers weren’t home and dry and with nearly an hour gone they were given a scare when James Brophy lifted a shot over the top from a decent position as the U’s again looked to strike on the break.

At the other end Victor Adeboyejo forced Stevens into a save and then fired at the U’s keeper after another intricate move as the Whites looked to provide an insurance blanket.

Collins celebration Cambridge

And with 25 minutes to go it came in the shape of Collins’ opening goal for the club. The frontman had just been clattered by U’s skipper Michael Morrison and from the resulting free-kick Wanderers prised open the Cambridge defence with Paris Magohoma’s clever pass allowing Collins to neatly lift the ball past Stevens with an excellent finish.

Within moments he almost doubled his tally with a fierce strike which was blocked on the line by Liam Bennett.

His work for the afternoon had been nicely done, though, as Wanderers then cruised to a comfortable win almost embellished in injury-time by substitute Cameron Jerome, whose effort from a tight angle was blocked by the busy Stevens as the Whites passed their test of character in impressive style to get their challenge back on track.

Wanderers: Coleman; Jones, Almeida Santos, Toal; Sheehan; Dacres-Cogley, Maghoma (Dempsey 77), Thomason (Morley 77), Ogbeta (Williams 80); Collins (Bodvarsson 80), Adeboyejo (Jerome 80). Substitutes: Iredale, Forrester.

Booked: Adeboyejo, Thomason

Cambridge United: Stevens; L Bennett, R Bennett, Morrison, Andrew; Kakai, Digby (Cousins 81), Thomas, Brophy; Lankester; Kachunga (Bonn 81). Substitutes: Mannion, Iben Rossi, May, Njoku, Ewens-Findlay.

Booked: Kakai, Morrison

Referee: Ollie Yeates

Attendance: 20,246 (322 away)

Read Time: 4 mins