The U's have lost 2-0 at Port Vale, as they finally returned to action.Doug Loft was the scorer of both the home goals, as the U's took to the pitch after over three weeks without a game.Loft's first came on thirteen minutes, firmly sidefooting home a Jones cross, making the half time score 1-0.His and Vale's second came a few minutes into the second period, whipping his right footed effort past Walker's left hand and into the bottom corner.
After a break of twenty four days, the U’s boss made one change from his starting eleven at Carlisle, Ryan Dickson coming in for Luke Garbutt.
Loanee Garbutt returned to parent club Everton not long after that win in Cumbria but the weather and FA Cup commitments have held up Dickson’s return to the left back slot.
The game started with the expected wintry showers holding off and the U’s were the first to open up the opposition defence.
Craig Eastmond got in on the right but had his cross blocked, before the resultant corner was cleared.
The ball was in the home net on seven minutes but Sanchez Watt had strayed offside before crossing for Clinton Morrison to sidefoot home.
Six minutes later, a goal stood but it was at the wrong end for the U’s.
Lines drove forward from central midfield, found Jones on the left and his pull back was firmly struck past Sam Walker by Doug Loft to make it 1-0 to the hosts.
The home side were having the better of the early pressure and the U’s were struggling to put together any decent attacking moves.
A long range shot from David Wright flew well over before Port Vale got back to attacking.
Griffiths shot over before Loft repeated the feat and then Tom Eastman deflected a cross narrowly wide of his own goal.
Another Jones cross found Loft at the far post but the Vale scorer didn’t keep his shot down and Walker wasn’t tested.
The U’s finished the half strongest though, and Sanchez Watt was the first to get an effort in, volleying over from a left wing cross.
Dominic Vose, who was causing all sorts of problems for the hosts, cut inside before shooting just wide.
Walker kept the score at 1-0 just before the break though, palming away Pope’s effort, when the home striker should really have doubled his side’s lead.
The U’s came out of the blocks very well at the start of the second half and put pressure on the home defence.
Sanchez Watt slipped when well placed and then Clinton Morrison looked like he was pulled back just inside the box.
On fifty minutes though, Loft did manage to double the lead, latching onto a ball into the channel, before whipping his shot past Walker and into the bottom corner.
For the remainder of the half, it was all U’s and even full back Brian Wilson was looking to get on the scoresheet.
His effort from an angled drive was well saved at the near post and came just after Craig Eastmond just failed to make contact with a Marcus Bean cross.
On sixty three minutes, Jabo Ibehre and Freddie Sears replaced Morrison and Wright, and Sears was central to everything the U’s did in the final half hour.
Less than a minute after coming on, he was denied by a near post save and seconds later, shot narrowly wide.
On seventy one minutes, Bean, and Ibehre combined on the right for the former to cross, and Sears was unlucky with his looping header at the near post.
He then drilled over from the corner of the penalty area after cleverly gaining a yard of space for himself, and had a shot saved by Neal as the U’s continued to dominate.
Gavin Massey, on as a sub for Dominic Vose, had a shot well palmed away before the last chance of the game fell unsurprisingly to Sears.
He looked like he had done everything right but Neal pulled off the best save of the night, tipping the shot away for a corner.
The whistle went on a U’s defeat but the second half performance gave enough good indications that the U’s would gain plenty of points between now and the end of the season.