Spectators have waited eight months to see the Reds play at home in the Lotto NRFL second division but they’ll have to wait a while longer for a win.
The Reds lost 5-2 to Greenhithe Catimba in the second round of the competition on a sunny John Kerkhof Park.
The match started poorly for a sluggish Cambridge and they fell behind in the 4th minute when Franco Gandini was left unmarked.
Agustin Saint-Hermes doubled Catimba’s lead in the 35th minute and Benjamin Gutierez made it 3-0 in the 41st minute, heading into the net from close range.
The Reds regrouped during the interval and came out looking a different side, pushing forward and showing an urgency they lacked in the first half.
They were rewarded in the 50th minute when striker Michael Cosgrave bundled the ball across the line in a goalmouth scramble.
Main photo: Cosgrave takes on the Catimba defence. Image: Louis Roberts.
At that stage, with the score 3-1 to Catimba, a revival looked possible.
However, the game turned in the 58th minute when Cambridge defender Patrick Woodlock was red carded, judged to have handled the ball and denying a goalscoring opportunity.
From the resulting free kick, Gandini struck a sweet shot past the wall and ‘keeper Fraser Nicholls.
Saint-Germes found his second goal in the 81st minute to extend the visitors’ lead to 5-1.
Despite that, 10-man Cambridge continued to push forward and youngsters Aston Hurd and Tom O’Leary came off the bench for impressive cameo roles in which their speed tested the Catimba defence.
O’Leary looked confident, taking set pieces, and was rewarded with his first goal for the Reds, steering home a free kick from outside the box.
While Cambridge will be disappointed with the result, the side showed spirit and enterprise in the second half, with a player short for half an hour.
If they take that to Hibiscus Coast on Easter Monday (kick off 3pm), and can get off to a better start, they can bounce back.
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Lotto NRFL second division results
Onehunga Mangere United 3 (Marco Stevens 33’, Glen Lewis 60’, Gilberto Souza 74’)
Franklin United 0
Papatoetoe AFC 1 (KT Kanon 60’)
Hibiscus Coast AFC 2 (Kiah Williams 20’, Matthew Russell 23’)
Cambridge FC 2 (Micheal Cosgrave 50’, Thomas O’Leary 83’)
Greenhithe FC 5 (Franco Gandini Andreucetti 4’ 61’, Agustin Saint-Germes 35; 81’, Benjamin Gonzalez Gutierrez 41’)
Northland 3 (Rueben Nicholl 17’, Sam Nimmo 44’, Mitchell Hanmore 58’)
Oratia United 2 (Matthew Banks 39’ 43’)
Uni-Mount Bohemian 2 (Erol Arslan 18’, Dillon Lazarus 48’)
Beachlands Maraetai AFC 5 (Aaron Parry 4’, Cheauxyan Maukau 9’ 14’, Ethan Adams 57’, Isaac Harraway 77’)
Fencibles United 5 (Harrison McDowell 3’, Cole Holland 32’, Brook Robinson 42’, Josh Harford 45’ 80’)
Claudelands Rovers 1 (Levi Clark 55’ – PEN)
In the early game, Cambridge beat Greenhithe Catimba 4-0.