03 January 2022

Mark Bonner celebrates ‘worthy’ point as 10-man Cambridge deny Portsmouth

03 January 2022

Mark Bonner hailed his 10-man Cambridge team’s resilience as they survived 27 minutes of stoppage time to claim a 0-0 draw with Portsmouth.

Sam Smith’s red card meant the home side were on the back foot for much of the second half, with the match disrupted further after a medical incident in the crowd caused a lengthy stoppage.

But the Us held on to claim a first point in three games.

“We had to overcome quite a few challenges in that second half, but I think we were worthy of something,” Bonner said.

“We had to rely on a bit of grit and work ethic to get us through and I was really pleased with how we coped; we didn’t lose our way and didn’t let the emotion of the game get to us.”

On Smith’s red card, Bonner said: “I don’t think it was a red card, there wasn’t any malice in it.

“It made the game really tough and it was disappointing for Sam, but we had to get through it and we did.

“We set up to try and be solid, with two banks of four and pace down the flanks, and have come away with a valuable point.”

The visitors should have led in the 20th minute when Reeco Hackett-Fairchild blazed his shot over the bar from 10 yards. Seconds later Cambridge raced forward and Gavin Bazunu made a smart save from Adam May before Mahlon Romeo slid in to block James Brophy’s follow-up.

The game changed in the 60th minute when Smith, who had been shown a yellow card in the first half for dissent, was given his marching orders for catching Connor Ogilvie with a flailing arm.

A long stoppage followed shortly afterwards following a medical emergency in the crowd, which led to play being suspended before a Cambridge fan was stretchered away.

Pompey pressed for a winner when play resumed but Ronan Curtis wasted their best opportunity when he fired over from a Harness centre.

Portsmouth head coach Danny Cowley said: “It was a stop-start game but we had good control in the first half while lacking a cutting edge.

“When they went down to 10 men Cambridge made it difficult for us and you have to credit them for that.

“They managed the game very well and when you’re playing 10 men you need to be patient and non-emotional. There are learnings for us to take from this game in both these areas.”

Cowley was happy with an eighth clean sheet in 10 matches but added: “We do need to keep working on our play at the top end of the pitch because we need to turn games like this into wins.”

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