Cambridge United ran riot against Scunthorpe United at the Sands Venue Stadium, scoring five unanswered goals and condemned the home side to a second successive heavy home defeat. A brace from both Paul Mullin and Joe Ironside either side of a Tyler Cordner own goal sent the U's top of League Two and saw Scunthorpe still with only a solitary win this season.
Story of the match
Cambridge got the game underway, but it was Scunthorpe who had the first chance. The home side got in behind with Aaron Jarvis, but he tried to square the ball in instead of shooting and the chance went begging. Soon after, it was the away side who had a half chance. Iredale crossed the ball into the middle, but the chance for Luke Hannant went well over - despite the good connection made.
The U's dominated in the first five minutes and they nearly took the lead on several occasions - a header from Greg Taylor somehow went out for a corner, and Hannant had another shot that was blocked with some half-hearted appeals for handball. The referee, however, remained unmoved and Scunthorpe managed to survive the early onslaught.
Hannant continued to be the threat for the U's and was almost in after a length of the field counter-attack following a Scunthorpe corner. It was the Iron captain Alex Gilliead who intervened with a well timed tackle. The Iron should have taken the lead against the run of play when Jarvis was in with only the keeper to beat, but he put his effort over the bar.
Cambridge had the ball in the net through Ironside as he followed up from Rory Watson's parried save, but the lineman's flag was up for offside and the score stayed 0-0. Kyle Knoyle's thundering run and cross was well defended by the home side with the opening 20 minutes seeing lots of action, and Harrison Dunk had a good shot saved by Watson after good build up play by Jack Iredale.
Scunthorpe almost had another chance when John McAtee bundled through, but couldn't find an Iron shirt with his cut back. Cambridge looked the most likely to score, but Scunthorpe were still very much in the game as the half hour mark approached. Taylor's flicked header for the U's went over as the chances kept coming.
On 35 minutes, the away side won a penalty when Paul Digby was pulled down in the area. Mullin smashed it down the middle to give Watson no chance and gave the U's the lead. The away side were well worth their lead with the majority of the chances falling Cambridge's way. Knoyle's cross soon after found Dunk on the edge of the area, but Watson saved well.
With only two minutes remaining before half time, the U's had another penalty which Mullin smashed down the middle yet again. The forward drew the foul from the defender and made no mistake, doubling Cambridge's lead. It was 0-2 to the away side at the half time whistle, with the away side looking extremely comfortable.
It didn't take long for first action of the second half after kick off, with Hannant scythed down by Miles Hippolyte and Jake Taylor in quick succession, with both defenders going into the book. Hannant let his feet do the talking, however, when his cross from the left hand side was turned into his own net by Cordner to make it 0-3 to the U's.
It went from bad to worse for the home side, as Hippolyte saw his second booking in less than ten minutes to leave his side with ten men against the rampant-looking Cambridge side. Referee Chris Sarginson had absolutely no choice but to show the red card with Scunthorpe's frustration getting the better of them.
Rory Watson's fumbled attempt of Ironside's shot went over line to make it 0-4 just after the hour mark, and the game was in danger of becoming a cricket score. Hannant, Digby and Mullin were withdrawn just after the fourth goal with the Cambridge manager Mark Bonner clearly looking ahead to the hectic fixture list over the next month, with Harim Boateng, Harvey Knibbs and Idris El Mizouni all brought on for the away side.
It was almost five with around 20 minutes to go, with Knibbs hitting the bar from close range. Cambridge dominated possession and the chances as the game started to draw to a conclusion. They added gloss to the score after Ironside headed in a superb cross from Iredale on 83 minutes to make it 0-5 - and that was how it finished, with things looking very bleak for the home side.
Takeaways from the match
This was very much a day to forget for the home side, as they conceded four goals for the second time in two home games. Injuries have definitely played a part in their poor form, and they could have taken the lead twice in the first half when the score was still 0-0. However, they collapsed in spectacular fashion at the start of the second half, with two goals conceded and a red card in the first ten minutes of the second period. It looks to be a long season ahead for the Iron, with a porous defense and toothless attack.
In contrast, Cambridge are in superb form. The football they played throughout the game was impressive, and Bonner's side look to be establishing themselves as early promotion candidates. Mullin and Hannant in particular were outstanding, but there were excellent performances all over the pitch from the away side. The only issue ahead is the packed fixture list - the games come thick and fast over the next month, and it will be a case of rotating the squad and avoiding injuries if the U's are to mount their promotion attempt this season.
Luke Hannant was outstanding from the get-go, and he tormented the Scunthorpe defense all over the park. He became a target for ill-timed challenges from the home side and that saw them consequently go down to ten men barely ten minutes into the second half. Paul Mullin scored two and assisted another as Cambridge bossed the game throughout, but especially during the opening stages of the second half the U's very much looked like they could score with every attack.
Scunthorpe United: Watson; Bedeau, Onariase, Gilliead, Loft, Hippolyte, Jarvis, Spence, Cordner, Taylor, McAtee.
Substitutions: Kelsey, Eisa, Beestin, Vincent, Dunnwald-Turan, Hornshaw, O'Malley.
Cambridge United: Mitov; Knoyle, Iredale, Digby, Taylor, Darling, Hannant, Mullin, Dunk, May, Ironside.
Substitutions: Burton, Hoolahan, Cundy, Davies, El Mizouni, Knibbs, Boateng.