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REPORT Oxford United 4 Cambridge United 2

U's end emotional week with a win. Full time report

26 February 2022

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Oxford United ended an emotional week with an important win as they gave former hero Joey Beuachamp the perfect send off.

After tributes and tears before kick-off, United had to twice come from behind after goals from Sam Smith, but suitable strikes from local boy Matty Taylor, Cameron Brannagan's 11th, and then 12th, of the season, plus a first home goal for Sam Baldock, who idolised Beauchamp from the Manor terraces, saw a sad day end with an ovation and smiles all round.

On a day for an actual Oxford hero, it was a former U’s forward who threatened to ruin the day when Smith toe-poked his first past the exposed Jack Stevens inside five minutes.

Undeterred, United played their way back into the game and the recalled Steve Seddon and Sam Long had half chances as Cambridge dropped back and built a wall for United to try and play through or go round. Baldock, making his first home start, showed a great touch on 32 minutes but dragged wide from the edge of the area but on 36 minutes United were level.

Fittingly it was Taylor, captain for the day as another tribute to a fellow local boy, who tucked it away as Ryan Williams’ right-wing cross was flicked on by Baldock and Taylor drifted in behind the static Cambridge backline to touch home his 19th of the season, poignantly pointing an 11 to the heavens to celebrate.

United then started the second half well and most of the game was being played in the Cambridge half, but on 55, with United on the prowl, the other U’s stole the ball and broke with speed and clever movement. United failed to stay with Smith, who once again bore down on Stevens and fired across him for a well-taken second goal: more league goals in an hour than he managed in half a season on loan at the Kassam Stadium.

Time for the home U's to step up, and when they need someone to do that this season they can always rely on Brannagan. Baldock was again the provider with a clever cut back after finding space behind the Cambridge defence. He rolled it across, Brannagan strode up and we were level at 2-2 thanks to the midfielder's 11th of the season.

Visiting keeper Dimitar Mitov kept his side level with an astounding save after 70 minutes as Taylor brought a long ball down and thumped a powerful effort at goal, but no matter because two minutes later United were ahead for the first time as Baldock, who watched Beauchamp from the Manor Ground terraces, timed his run expertly and slammed home Taylor's low cross for his first United goal. Two assists and a goal, an excellent start and the partnership with Taylor could yet power United to a higher level.

There was further encouragement as Marcus Browne came off the bench for a late cameo, mistiming a chance to mark his first game for 13 months with a goal, but his time will come and on 90 United were home and dry when Brannagan again timed his run and smashed home a fourth to make sure the day ended perfectly.

Take the tears away and today was just as important on the pitch as it was for the respects paid. A third win in a week, a growing gap to the chasing pack and a fourth crowd in a row of over 10,000 - never been done at the Kassam Stadium.

Go home, raise a glass and enjoy the moment. Cheers Joey.

Att: 10,004
Away: 646
Fifty/50 winning number: 22253 wins £1,131

Report by Chris Williams, pictiures Steve Daniels, stats by OPTA

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