United have now failed to win any of their first five league games, for the first time since 2010-11, when they drew three and lost two of their opening five matches. It is their worst start since 2006-07, when they gained only one point in their first five and in fact had to wait until their ninth game for their first win, by which time manager Rob Newman had been sacked.
If you are feeling wildly optimistic, however (unlikely, I know), United also drew two and lost three of their first five games of the 1989-90 season, and eventually finished sixth before winning the promotion playoffs.
The last time that United were bottom of any table was in early September 2006, after seven matches in the Conference. They survived relegation thanks to the appointment of Jimmy Quinn in replacement for Newman.
United were also bottom (their finishing position) for much of their relegation seasons of 2004-05 and 2001-02. The last time in the Football League that they were at the foot of the table but did not go down at the end of the season was on 12th February 2000, when they recovered to finish 19th in Division Two.
Josh Coulson’s own goal today, if that is the official decision, will take him into exalted company as one of only four United players to score three career own goals or more in league matches for the U’s. His previous two were also in home defeats, 5-1 to Mansfield in 2010-11 and 3-1 to Hereford in 2012-13.
Steve Fallon remains top of the pile with five own goals, but he did play in 405 league games plus five as sub between 1974 and 1987, and he scored 27 at the other end. The other men on three own goals are Andy Duncan (285+9 appearances between 1997-2007, 9 goals scored for United), and Alan Gammie (92 Southern League appearances, 1959-62, two goals scored). Josh has played in 257 league games for the U’s, plus 11 as sub, and scored 15 times at the right end.
Today saw Luton’s best ever margin of victory at the Abbey, beating their 3-1 wins of 1980-81 and last season. Today’s attendance of 5,606 was the smallest for a game between the clubs in Cambridge in their last five matches. The largest crowd for this fixture remains 8,815 on 10th April 1982 when both clubs were in the Second Division. The game finished in a 1-1 draw, George Reilly equalising Wayne Turner’s opener for the visitors.
The teams were:
United: Webster, Donaldson, Murray, Smith, Fallon, Streete, Cartwright, Reilly, Gibbins, Finney, Christie
Luton: Findlay, Stephens, Money, Horton, Goodyear, Donaghy, Antic, Stein, White, Turner (Fuccillo), Moss
Uche Ikpeazu is only the ninth man to play league football for United with a surname beginning with I. The others are: Brian Iley (1956-57), Neil Illman (1995-96), Izzy Iriekpen (2002-03), Zeli Ismail (2015-16), Dick Ison (1963-66), J Ison (1936-38), K Ison (1936-38) and Sam Ives (2008-11).
Ikpeazu is the 23rd player to be allocated the squad number 26 by the U’s. His predecessors were: Andrew Ingham, Nathan Lamey, Neil Mustoe, Colin Alcide, John Turner, Chris Clarke, Kingsley Mbome, Jonny Harkness, Danny Bunce, Rob Gier, Carl Patten, Sam Page, Chris Flynn, Robbie Willmott, Stephen Reed, Rory McAuley, Courtney Pitt, Blaine Hudson, Jack Eades, James Brighton, Liam Hurst and James Akintunde.
Norris 7. A number of fine saves, although there must be a question mark about the second Luton goal.
Taylor 7. Good, solid job on the right.
Legge 8. Did his very best to inspire by example.
Coulson 7. Mostly fine, although he was the nearest player to Rea for the first goal and stood off Marriott too much for the second.
Adams 6. Got through the first half OK, found the second half a bit more of a struggle.
Mingoia 8. Constant menace.
Dunne 7. Got forward a bit more than usual.
Clark 7. Mostly decent game.
Berry 7. Excellent first half, but failed to lift his team once they went two down.
Elito 7. Looks much better suited to a number 10 role and made a decent contribution, coming nearest to scoring when he forced an excellent save from Walton. Less effective in a wide role.
Williamson 6. Mobile and energetic, but never looked like scoring, just as he hasn’t done all season.
Ikpeazu 7. Clearly not match fit, but held the ball up and shielded it better than any other United player can and gained a number of useful free-kicks. Promising.
Pigott 6. Tried hard to get that goal but it’s just not happening for him.
Gosling 6. Not on long enough to make much of an impression.
An hour of encouraging attacking football was undone by two goals in the space of a minute and all of a sudden United are propping up the League and wondering where the hell their next goal is going to come from, as well as how to stop conceding them at the other end. Worrying times.
Man of the Match
Piero Mingoia. Best crosser of a ball at the Abbey since Alan Kimble. If only he had some strikers of equal quality to aim them at.
Webb 4. Spineless, feeble little man who allowed the Luton players to bully him throughout the match, letting them walk away and ignore him while he tried to book them, and allowing them to get away unpunished with blatant foul play and dissent.
Soundtrack of the Day
Flock of Dimes “Everything is Happening Today”