Cambridge 0-2 Town
Wednesday, 25th Jul 2012 21:37
Michael Chopra netted two goals at the Abbey Stadium for the second year running as Town beat Cambridge United 2-0. It was a much-improved display from the Blues with both goals coming in the second half.
New keeper Scott Loach started in goal with Aaron Cresswell at left-back, skipper Carlos Edwards at right-back and Luke Chambers and Damien Delaney at the centre of the defence.
In a midfield diamond, Massimo Luongo sat in front of the back four with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas behind strikers Jason Scotland and Michael Chopra with Andy Drury on the left and Ryan Stevenson on the right.
The first penalty area action of the game saw Cambridge keeper Jonathan Hedge spill a Cresswell cross from the left but fortunately for him not at the feet of a Town player.
The Blues started the game more brightly than the corresponding friendly a year ago when they were two goals down in the opening three minutes.
On 15 Town went close to opening the scoring when Scotland beat a defender down the right and cut the ball back to Chopra, whose shot was blocked by Blaine Hudson.
Five minutes later, Chopra curled a shot from the edge of the area which struck a defender.
On the half hour the impressive Luongo crossed for Chopra, home keeper Hedge grabbing the ball just ahead of the Blues striker.
In the 44th minute Tom Elliott escaped on the Town right and hit a shot which flew well past Scott Loach’s left post when he should either have hit the target or laid it across to the well-placed Adam Marriott in the centre.
Seconds before half-time, Emmanuel-Thomas cleverly won the ball midway inside the Cambridge half and sent Chopra through on goal. However, the striker slammed the ball at Hedge’s chest.
Despite the scores being level, the Blues had been much the better side with Loach a spectator aside from the Elliott shot towards the end of the half. Town, with new boy Luongo neat and tidy in the centre of midfield, had kept hold of the ball much better than they had in Holland and had created one or two opportunities.
The Blues began the second half on the front foot and in the 50th minute Drury crossed from the right and Delaney headed wide.
Two minutes later, Adriano Moke cut in from the Cambridge right but allowed the ball to run to Loach before he could cut it across the area.
Soon after, Emmanuel-Thomas made one of his trademark runs in from the right and hit a shot which Hedge held on to at the second attempt ahead of the sharp Scotland.
Chopra curled a shot to the home keeper with the Blues creating chances regularly and continuing to have most of the ball. On 58 Emmanuel-Thomas laid the ball back to Drury, whose shot was deflected wide.
Hudson did well to stop Chopra after Stevenson had played him in a minute later before Town switched Scotland for Lee Martin, back in action after his thigh injury.
After the change, the Blues took the corner short and Martin crossed to Chopra at the far post, the defender’s volley appearing to hit the keeper and then the post.
The Blues went in front in the 64th minute. Chopra, who scored twice in the corresponding friendly last season which ended 2-2, brought the ball in from the left, exchanged a one-two with Emmanuel-Thomas before beating the keeper with the ball catching Hudson on its way into the net.
Emmanuel-Thomas hammered a shot over moments after Byron Lawrence had replaced Stevenson.
Chopra made it his second brace at the Abbey Stadium in two years in the 81st minute when he ran on to an excellent Andy Drury pass, took the ball on the turn and deftly beat the keeper.
On 84 Drury shot powerfully wide, then double-goalscorer Chopra was replaced by Ainsley.
Two-goal hero Chopra continues to look sharp, while new loanee Luongo put in very promising display in central midfield, moving the ball around tidily and making the odd tackle. There was little sign that his first training session with his new team-mates had been on Tuesday.
Overall though, it was a much better team display than those in Holland – and in last year’s friendly against Cambridge - although against poorer opposition, with the Blues keeping hold of the ball far better and having the chances to have won more comfortably.
Cambridge United: Hedge, Jennings, Wellard, Elliott, Dunk, McAuley, Garner, Berry, Marriott, Moke, Hudson. Unused: Shaw, Norris, Jarvis, Eades, Brighton, Tait, Rodney, Willmott.
Town: Loach, Edwards, Cresswell, Chambers, Delaney, Luongo, Drury, Scotland (Martin 60), Emmanuel-Thomas, Chopra (Ainsley 85), Stevenson (Lawrence 69). Unused: Lee-Barrett, Hyam, Ainsley, Whight, Thorsteinsson. Ref: Alan Young. Att: 2184. (Town: 852).
Photo: Action Images
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