A late goal from Danny Hylton sent United through in the Capital One Cup tonight as they came from behind to beat Bristol City. Trailing from the second minute, United stuck to their guns, played their football and saw a first goal from Carlton Morris put them on level terms before Hylton's dramatic late winner.
It took 70 seconds for the home side to take the lead. A ball in from the right of the box from Jordan Wynter was held, back to goal, by big striker Jay Emmanuel-Thomas. He worked the ball to his right and drove in a shot which Jake Wright blocked with a good challenge but the ball went straight to Joe Bryan in space on the left of the box. He took a touch and then planted his right-footed shot into the top right corner, giving Max Crocombe no chance in the United goal.
That was harsh on Crocombe who had no chance with the goal and otherwise looked confident on his return to a side that also included David Hunt and Jon Meades as Michael Appleton made three changes to the side that started the season against Burton on Saturday.
The U’s responded well from the early setback and Junior Brown fired over before Joe Riley, playing further forward on the right of a three-man support line for striker Morris, smashed in a 25-yard shot that forced keeper Frank Fielding into a fine save high to his left.
Josh Ruffels lasted just under 20 minutes before suffering what appeared to be a groin problem and hobbling off to be replaced by Michael Collins, but whatever the personnel, United have a good shape and everyone knows their roles within it and for the first half hour they matched their higher-division hosts in terms of possession – stats showed they had 55% of the ball in that period. Meades had played a big part in those figures with some particularly well-timed challenges to win the ball back for his side at crucial moments.
Mullins back-headed an effort over, Potter crashed a shot into the arms of Fielding on 31 then Brown headed home a Hunt cross on 41 only to see it ruled out for a (very harsh) offside. United had arguably been the better side for 45 minutes but as with their opening game one chance at the other end had left them a goal down at the break.
The only thing lacking was a goal and on 55 minutes it came from Morris. A good move down the right ended with Hunt winning a corner which Riley sent in. It dipped ideally six yards from goal and Morris got across his man to power a volley beyond Fielding to deservedly make it 1-1.
The Robins briefly lifted their game and Emmanuel-Thomas lifted a free kick over the bar on the hour and Wright needed to block bravely as United defended stoutly but otherwise Crocombe was not overworked as the Yellows put in a spirited performance all over the park.
With both sides tiring and extra time looming Riley, a revelation in that more advanced role, found the energy for a shot just wide on 84 before United grabbed the winner they so richly deserved. Another patient passing move saw the ball worked out to the excellent Brown on the left flank. He strode on and pulled the ball back for Hylton to sidefoot home from eight yards and seal United's progress into the second round.
A fine goal to cap a fine performance from the 1986 winners of the competition.
The season is up and running...
Report by Chris Williams. Stats by OPTA, Pictures by Darrell Fisher