Six Education: Imps 6-0 Cambridge United

Credit Graham Burrell

Often, people use hooks like ‘five things we learned about whatever’ after a game. It’s a good way to get some facts out about a match without using the usual reporting style.

Yesterday, we gave new Cambridge boss Garry Monk one big lesson, six times over, about what it takes to be a decent League One side. That certainly wasn’t the start, or end of the lessons, because we all learned a little bit of something last night.

Me? I learned that no matter how ill you feel, never miss a home game! I watched at home on iFollow as Cambridge were systematically dismantled by a team far better drilled, with far more desire. It is easy to be critical of the opposition, but they’re not the worst side we’ve seen this season, not by a fair stretch. Sometimes, you just have to admit that we were really good. Boy, were we really good.

Credit Graham Burrell

This morning, I have been teaching a lesson, working with the Priory Federation of Academies to once again deliver our alternative writing course. Part of today’s lesson was to show a clip of a game and get the pupils to write it up. I had planned to show the Barnsley goals, but after the game, we decided that there was a bit too much to write about. “We’ll do Cambridge instead,” was the solution. “There’s bound to be fewer things to write about.” Another big lesson.

I’ll name-check Martin Strawson here, because the next observation is his, but it’s absolutely spot on. The last time of true unity, fans in the stand and pure belief that we were going to be successful ended with a 6-0 defeat against a university city (Oxford) at Sincil Bank. How poignant that there’s a real feeling a new era might have been underlined by a 6-0 victory against another university city? Oxford losing 5-0 last night has also been a big help to us, and maybe there’s a lot to be said for the corresponding fixture last season, the 0-0 draw which was the moment I first lost confidence in Mark Kennedy.

Credit Graham Burrell

What’s utterly crazy is we started last night with long-term injuries to three players who would 100% have played a part had they been fit – Tyler Walker, Conor McGrandles, and Ethan Hamilton. Lewis Montsma would have been in the conversation as well, and within 15 minutes or so, we’d also lose Ben House. Freddie Draper sat out as well, so from those six players you’d assume four could be described as first-team at worst. We handed a six-education lesson to a League One rival with 36% of our assumed first-team players out injured and both Ted Bishop and Jack Burroughs still returning from injury.

Whatever last night’s lesson was, other teams will be taking note. Steve Evans was over on Sky Sports saying how his Stevenage team were the ones nobody wanted in the play-offs – their last two games have been 0-0, and they’ve taken nine points from a possible 24. Pardon me, Steve, but I think you’ll find nobody would want Lincoln City right now, especially not Barnsley.

Credit Graham Burrell

Okay, enough purring like a cat that just found a bowl of cream; let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of the game. Freddie Draper, withdrawn at half time of the Barnsley game, missed out, meaning House shifted up top and Jack Moylan, the two-goal hero from the weekend, started. Jack made quite the impression at the weekend, and he picked up where he left off early.

City have a habit of starting well at the moment, and that was the case once again, as we took a lead inside three minutes. Remember, I’ve had the goals on a loop in a classroom this morning, so there are probably not that many people out there who have watched them as often as I have. People talk about a possible foul by Sorensen in the build up, and in fairness even Moylan does glance at the ref as he wheels away, but we said before the game that Scott Oldham likes to let things flow, and he did. The loose ball fell to Moylan, and he made no mistake from just inside the area, blasting the ball into the roof of the net. For me, that was game over with 87 left to play. Cambridge have only come from behind to win away once this season, and we’ve only lost once at home after scoring first, in the FA Cup against Morecambe. Curiously, Tom Bloxham scored for Morecambe that day, and was sent off in the Cambridge Shrewsbury game. Coincidences do amuse me.

Credit Graham Burrell

Still, Cambridge came back against Shrewsbury after two minutes, and whilst they did briefly rally, they didn’t really trouble the goal. I don’t think they’re too bad going forward – Lyle Taylor looked quite lively and Kachunga is a player I think makes a good impact at this level. They certainly had some of the play after we scored, but I never felt we’d concede. However, I did fear for us when House went off. A sore quad doesn’t sound good, and the truth is the only reason we’re not top six (top three, maybe) right now is injuries throughout the season. If House is now missing as well, it could be a huge blow.

That said, it wasn’t last night. Makama came on and put in a decent shift, and before any of us could get twitchy bums, Jack was at the double once again. He’s scored four goals in an hour’s football now – that puts him into third on the leading scorer chart (second at the time he bagged his second). The goal was credit to Erhahon, winning the ball high up the field after Cambridge tried to come out. Our intensity is incredible, and Erhahon not only won the ball, but slid a little pass into our Jack of all trades (master of most). He did what he’s seemingly born to do; he scored. 2-0 City.

Credit Graham Burrell

I’ve got to say, I’m not surprised at how intense we are, and we got a glimpse of it when we played Cambridge on November 28th. Back then, a moment in the second half saw us concede a free kick, and Jack Vale, rather than getting back, argued with the referee. Michael Skubala exploded at the player from the touchline, and it was a real indication of the standards the head coach expects. At the time, it seemed a small thing, but that mentality has permeated throughout this side. Nobody shirks getting back. Nobody avoids chasing a ball. Nobody lacks effort or endeavour. This is a team that some said lacked heart and attitude back in October. I don’t think there’s any doubting that right now.

We could certainly have had more. A long throw from Lasse ended with Taylor shooting from a tight angle, and Sean Roughan’s cross deep in stoppage time saw Lasse draw a save from the keeper. Meanwhile, at the other end, Lukas Jensen could probably have been checking the other scores. If he had, he’d have seen Oxford and Des Buckingham getting a spanking at Bolton. Lovely. Seriously, check out the attack momentum graph at the bottom of the page; from our second goal onwards, it was one way traffic, and we had 76% possession.

Credit Graham Burrell

At half time I shuffled to the medicine cabinet, dosed up on paracetamol and held out hope for a quick start to the second half. I didn’t feel the game was in any doubt, but the chatter in my different groups seemed to think we could get four if we really went for it. Pessimists are never disappointed.

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