Mistakes at key moments proved costly for Cambridge as Auckland side Metro took home the Northern League points with a 3-1 victory at John Kerkhof Park.
The Reds matched their visitors for possession, territory and all-round play but Metro punished Cambridge mistakes and took their goalscoring chances.
It was a harsh lesson for Cambridge who are still adapting to competition at Lotto NRFL level.
The Reds were without striker Wayne Teague (suspension), Nathan Claridge (ankle injury) and Jason Walker (forced to withdraw through work commitments) but fielded a strong line-up similar to that which won 4-2 at Onehunga Mangere United a week earlier.
Cambridge got off to a good start when they were awarded a penalty when the referee ruled a Metro defender had shoved an attacker in the back. Jamie Woodlock smashed the spot kick high into the net.
Metro picked up the pace as the half wore on and deservedly equalised when Stu Roberts finished with a diving header, giving Reds goalkeeper Patrick Steele no chance.
Tied 1-1 at the break, the teams returned for a tense second half beneath overcast skies.
The game turned in the 66th minute when Cambridge failed to clear a hopeful Metro ball that ran across the edge of the penalty area. Yusuke Takai met it with a curling shot into the Reds net.
The visitors then starved Cambridge of attacking opportunities and ran down the clock.
With five minutes to go, another Cambridge mix-up left the ball wide with Metro’s Josh Dayal. He saw Cambridge ‘keeper Steele off his line and cleverly lofted his long-range effort over him and into the net.
Cambridge coach Mike Woodlock said he was disappointed with the result, believing that his side had not deserved to lose 3-1 on the run of play, and a few errors had made the difference.
He said the team now needed to regroup ahead of Wednesday’s Anzac Day trip to Albany United and deliver an improved performance.
Lotto NRFL Men’s Division Two
Cambridge FC 1-3 Metro FC (HT: 1-1)
CAM: Jamie Woodlock 14′; MET: Stuart Roberts 34′, Yusuke Takai 62′, Josh Dayal 84′
Bucklands Beach AFC 3-0 Northland FC (HT: 2-0)
BUC: Daniel Culpin 26′ 44′, Josh Smith 61′
Takapuna 3-0 Papakura City FC
Ngongotaha AFC 1-2 Claudelands Rovers (HT 1-1)
NGO: Harlem Simiona 5′; CLA: Jonathan Viviani 25′, Owen Comber 53′
Te Atatu AFC 2-0 Onehunga Mangere United (HT: 0-0)
TEA: Rhys Caples 50′, Colin Bourke 93′
Franklin United 5-1 Albany United (HT: 3-1)
FRA: Kartik Kumar 11′ 30′, Cody Rickard 23′, Charlie Heather 63′ 93′; ALB: Lee Robinson 35′
In the early game, Cambridge reserves beat Metro’s second stringers 8-2. Click here for the match report.
Today’s match was sponsored by Onyx Cambridge.
Images from our club’s official photographer, Louis Roberts:
Our 2018 squad