A lovely spring afternoon, with punting on the Cam and three screaming emergency vehicles rushing to M&S Foodhall in the market square (apparently they had run out of guacamole!), gave way to a rain-soaked evening, ending with Rovers desperately punting the ball forward as the home team rushed towards their goal.
But a match which Rovers dominated for forty-five minutes, with fluent, inventive football, should never have ended with the visitors hoofing the ball to the corner flags. Despite being awarded an early and rather dubious penalty, which Luke Berry – clearly embarrassed by the ref’s decision – sportingly ballooned high over the bar, Cambridge never looked like scoring. Rovers meanwhile could have had six. With James Coppinger pulling the strings, Rovers swarmed around the Cambridge box like waves of student cyclists and it was no surprise when Tommy Rowe and Matthieu Baudry scored.
At half-time the teams seemed to swap tactics as well as ends, with Rovers no longer dominating through cultured football and Cambridge increasingly threatening. The industrious John Marquis added a third from the spot after robbing a defender who then pulled him down, but George Maris scored a beauty from thirty metres and suddenly the home fans chanted their only song with increased fervour.
Rovers cleared off their line twice before a Berry header made it 2-3 in stoppage time. There was one further chance for the hosts, but Rovers hung on and, with Plymouth and Carlisle losing, are now well worth a punt as champions.
by Dave Waugh