Brabin's men draw a blank

A LAST minute strike from Wayne Carlisle condemned Cambridge United to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Torquay last weekend, writes Matthew Gooding. It was a disappointing performance from Gary Brabin s men against a side who had won just one of their previo

A LAST minute strike from Wayne Carlisle condemned Cambridge United to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Torquay last weekend, writes Matthew Gooding.

It was a disappointing performance from Gary Brabin's men against a side who had won just one of their previous six games, and was far from the ideal preparation for this Saturday's trip to Mansfield Town.

To make matters worse, influential forward Mark Beesley picked up a knee injury which could sideline him for up to a month.

Following last Saturday's 2-0 win over Wrexham, director George Rolls was quoted as saying that "Ronaldinho would have been impressed by that performance". If the Brazilian superstar had been at the Abbey on Saturday, he would have probably fallen asleep, such was the lack of goalmouth activity.


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United actually started well against a Torquay side who lined up a 4-5-1 formation in a bid to frustrate their hosts. Lee McEvilly and the lively Chris Holroyd both had shots blocked, but after Beesley departed on 30 minutes their attacks became more sporadic, with the midfield and front line failing to link effectively.

Danny Crow replaced Beesley for his debut after completing his move from Peterborough last week. The striker showed some good touches and awareness, but appeared to be struggling for fitness and was unable to assert much influence on the game. Carlisle registered the only shot on target of the half, turning well but seeing his effort blocked away by Danny Potter.

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The second period continued in the same vein, with plenty of United possession but little end product. McEvilly twice headed off target when he should have done better, and Holroyd fired over the bar when well placed.

They were made to pay in stoppage time, when a counter attack from Torquay led to Danny Stevens freeing Carlisle, who curled an exquisite shot over Potter and into the far corner to win the match for the visitors.

Brabin found time to praise his sides "excellent passing", adding: "It shows you the reputation we are getting when you get a team who are favourites for promotion coming here, getting everyone behind the ball and looking to hit you on the break.

"It was frustrating. But if we are going to be a top side, we are going to have to put up with that."

This weekend's game at Mansfield promises to be United's toughest test yet, with the Stags boasting a 100 per cent home record. With Beesley joining the injury list, Brabin may revert to a 4-4-2 formation, with Felino Jardim and Robbie Willmott both pushing for starting places after missing out in the last couple of games.

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