Bristol 1s brush aside Cambridge reports official UBAFC journalist, Freddie Keighley.
A place in the last eight of the cup awaited the victor of this clash which pitted the current leaders of the Midland 1A against the second placed side in the Western 1A. Goals from James Byrne and Matt Hinks fired Bristol into the next round in a game during which Cambridge rarely threatened the home side’s dominance.
The dreadful conditions at the Coombe Dingle 3G contributed to what was a scrappy start with few clear-cut chances. Good work on the left by Harry Cruttenden led to a cross into his fellow wing back Jack Haire, with the latter pleased not to be at centre back on this occasion but disappointed not to have hit the target on the half volley.
We’re underway at Coombe Dingle where Bristol 1s are taking on Cambridge 1s in the last 16 of the BUCS Trophy pic.twitter.com/TG1LGbherm— Epigram Sport (@EpigramSport) February 14, 2018
The game was played in the middle third for much of the first half, although Bristol were never likely to be troubled in these areas, with box-to-box man James Byrne in fine form with two goals in his last two appearances, holding midfielder Oli Henery reading the game like a book and captain George Coy shaking off an injury to return to the lineup.
Ben Bodha, vocal as ever and lining up with Bertie Lloyd and Charlie Murgatroyd in defence, also overcame an injury that kept him out of the derby at UWE, allowing coach Alan Tyers to set his men up in his favoured 3-5-2. Winger Al Harlington has also found the net in each of his last two matches, but was unavailable for selection with a hip injury. Therefore Matt Hinks, making his second start for the 1s, operated in the number 10 role just behind striker Cam McEwan.
Goalkeeper Ross Cusdin, in his quest for a ninth clean sheet in eleven games, claimed two Cambridge crosses from the right confidently in quick succession before producing the save of the night, down quickly to his right while one-on-one with a Cambridge attacker.
22’ Unbelievable save from Bristol goalkeeper Ross Cusdin to keep the sides level— Epigram Sport (@EpigramSport) February 14, 2018
Bristol began to assert their dominance on the game after the first twenty minutes, with McEwan curling an effort narrowly over and producing delicious link-up play with Hinks. Hinks had a shot of his own shortly after, forcing a good save by the Cambridge goalkeeper.
Byrne brought the breakthrough for Bristol on thirty-two minutes, lashing a fierce effort from outside the box into the corner of the net after being set the ball by Hinks.
32’ Class from Byrne - the midfielder fires low last the keeper after Hinks’ pass. 1-0— Epigram Sport (@EpigramSport) February 14, 2018
It was almost two in two minutes for Byrne. Driving towards the Cambridge defence, he released an effort that was deflected and saved well by the away side’s keeper, who shifted his weight quickly so as not to have been caught out.
The first booking of the game was picked up by the Cambridge right back and captain on thirty-seven minutes after a cynical foul on Hinks as he exploited the wide areas.
The closing stages of the half saw centre half Lloyd look to utilise the pace of McEwan with diagonal through balls with varying levels of success, as the ball often skidded off the damp surface and out of play. Bristol were at their best with the ball on the ground and fed to the wide areas, where Haire and Cruttenden caused all sorts of problems for Cambridge. Byrne and Coy’s pressing was also a highlight throughout what was a slick first half for the home side.
HT - class to see Bodha and Coy return to the starting lineup. Big second half coming up to book a spot in the quarters— Epigram Sport (@EpigramSport) February 14, 2018
The first chance of the second half presented itself to goalscorer Byrne in the form of a free kick from twenty five yards. Unfortunately, the midfielder leant back as he struck the set piece, and it sailed over the crossbar in a similar fashion to his effort at UWE.
Lloyd began to find his range with the diagonal balls, locating Haire in space with a forty yard ping that prime Pirlo would have been proud of. Bristol continued to shift the ball well and dominate possession in the second half but struggled to create goalscoring opportunities.
A cracking cross by Coy from the right was just over Cruttenden, who had made a surging run into the box. Tyers chose to bring on some fresh legs on seventy minutes, as McEwan made way for Jasper Harlington. Shortly after, Bodha conceded a corner with a crunching tackle, but Cambridge failed to register an effort on goal from the set piece.
This clearance was only so far as Hinks, who smashed the ball past the keeper to double his side’s lead.
Another chance for the away side saw a forward fire narrowly wide from a tight angle, but Cusdin had positioned himself well and almost certainly had the effort covered.
The insurance goal came on seventy-six minutes for Bristol after a flurry of shots for the home side. Coy’s powerful effort from range was saved well but only into the path of Jasper Harlington, whose classy dinked effort was cleared off the line by a Cambridge defender. However, this clearance was only so far as Hinks, who smashed the ball past the keeper to double his side’s lead.
With a goal and an assist to his name and a fine day in the office under his belt, Hinks made way for forward Toby Thomas. Coy nearly added a third goal for Bristol after seeing the keeper in no man’s land, but his effort from range flew just over the crossbar.
This was Coy’s final contribution to the game, as he made way for Nyv Bogaire on eighty-five minutes. As Cambridge looked to press in the final stages, space opened up on the counter-attack for the rapid Thomas, but the best of the chances in the late stages was squandered, with his curled effort travelling wide of the far post.
It was a classy performance to progress in the cup during which Bristol were rarely tested. Cambridge’s four at the back shape was often exposed in the wide areas, while they showed little ambition to try and overload Bristol’s wing backs. It was a complete team performance in which the home side’s midfield was particularly impressive, with Byrne producing a man of the match performance.
The quarter-final fixture will take place tomorrow, with Bristol travelling to a Cardiff 1s. While they are currently fifth in the Western 1A, Cardiff are not to be underestimated, as they knocked out an East London 1s side which are top of the South Eastern 1A at Hackney Marsh to earn their place in the last eight.
Featured image: Epigram / Freddie Keighley