Cambridge boss Garry Monk was scathing of referee Will Finnie’s decision to award Wycombe a late penalty as the two sides recorded a 1-1 League One draw on Tuesday night.

Finnie penalised substitute Lyle Taylor seven minutes from time, allowing Luke Leahy to equalise and make Cambridge’s bid to avoid relegation go down to the final day.

A victory would have kept the U’s up and they led through Gassan Ahadme, despite illness and injury leading to Monk having only one fit centre-back available to him.

“It’s not in a million years a penalty,” Monk said afterwards.

“It’s got nothing to do with the players. It was taken out of our hands by a decision from an official that I think’s extremely poor. I’m not surprised that decision was given either, from the performance of the referee today.

“It is what it is, we’ve got to deal with it and the ramifications of it. We’re not in a place that we should have been and deserved to be tonight, where we were safe.

“In the second half, what more can you ask? We had some good chances tonight, we scored our goal. The bitter bit is not coming off with three points. We deserve to be in the situation where the job is done tonight.

“I’m really proud of them. They deserved to walk off this pitch tonight in front of our fans with the job done. We can feel deflated tonight but when we wake up tomorrow, we know what the job is.

“If we continue to show the amount of effort in what we’re doing then on Saturday we’ll get what we deserve, or what we did deserve tonight.”

Wycombe boss Matt Bloomfield was delighted to see his side make it 10 points from their last four away matches.

“We’ve played Shrewsbury, Port Vale – less so Carlisle because they were already relegated – and Cambridge. Teams that wanted points, needed points.

“The one thing I wanted to come away from every game is not being able to pick which team needed the points and which team didn’t.

“I wanted us to play with that intensity, that need to keep improving, the need to keep moving forward. It’s how we feel about ourselves. The boys are disappointed, they wanted to win tonight and I think they way we played showed that.

“You can’t win every game, we have to be very respectful of the way Cambridge played and performed but I think we did enough to win the game.

“First half we were excellent, it’s as dominant as we’ve been. The only slight disappointment was that we weren’t ahead. To show the character to go and get a penalty and come back, I thought we were very good.”

Cambridge’s fight to stave off relegation will go down to the final day of the season after a 1-1 League One draw with Wycombe.

Victory would have seen the U’s safe with a game to spare and they looked on course to achieve that, only for Luke Leahy’s late penalty to deny them.

Cambridge travel to Port Vale on Saturday needing a point to secure their League One place.

Gassan Ahadme headed into the side netting early on before Wycombe chances saw Nigel Lonwijk heading onto the crossbar and Will Mannion save from Jason McCarthy at his near post.

Mannion then did well to tip Kieran Sadlier’s effort from distance onto the post.

Franco Ravizzoli denied Macauley Bonne from point-blank range after 66 minutes before Mannion turned Matt Butcher’s powerful shot wide.

Ahadme broke the deadlock for the hosts after 71 minutes with a thumping header from Liam Bennett’s excellent cross.

But seven minutes from time, Lyle Taylor brought down Lonwijk and Leahy equalised from the spot for a share of the spoils.

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley hailed match-winner Sonny Carey as his side kept their outside hopes of a play-off finish alive with a 1-0 win over Cambridge.

Carey scored the game’s only goal with a superb curled finish after half an hour to leave the Seasiders six points off sixth-placed Oxford with four games remaining.

The home side passed up a number of other chances to make it more comfortable but Critchley was pleased with the way his side broke down a resolute Cambridge defence, with United scrapping for survival in League One.

“I thought we were good in the first half against a team who are defensive,” he said. “That’s how they’ve got their results lately, by defending deep.

“You have to be patient, work your openings, work the play and we did that. We produced quality that we haven’t produced in games recently.

“It was nice to see Sonny pass it into the bottom corner. That’s the quality he’s got.

“In the second half, we deteriorated, got a bit edgy and we needed the second goal to calm us down. We didn’t get it.

“They had a moment where they hit the post on the break, but we got over the line so I’ll take that.

“In the second half, we had loads of situations where we win the ball back and we failed in that final pass. Maybe we were lacking a bit of confidence or there was a bit of anxiety.”

Blackpool welcome neighbours Fleetwood to Bloomfield Road on Tuesday before travelling to already-relegated Carlisle, results which could have big implications for Garry Monk’s Cambridge.

The U’s sit five points above the drop zone with five games left to play but Monk was encouraged by his side’s second-half performance, which saw Gassan Ahadme and Elias Kachunga both go close to rescuing a precious point on the road.

He said: “In the first half they made it difficult for us. We weren’t quite dealing with wide areas where they were moving their central players out wide. They overloaded us there and it pinned us back a little bit, but we still defended well.

“At half-time, we spoke about that and needing to show a bit more composure on the ball. There were moments where we could have shown more composure, but in the second half we did just that.

“The second-half performance I was really proud of, we were so close to getting our just rewards. I was really pleased with the second half, I thought it was a good response to going a goal behind and we were unlucky not to come away with a point.

“In the second half, I thought we were the better team. We built attacks better, and nearly came away with a point.”

Cambridge head coach Garry Monk was full of praise for his players after the 2-0 win at Barnsley which earned him his first win since taking charge.

An own goal from Mael de Gevigney gave struggling Cambridge the lead before Gassan Ahadme sealed a crucial three points.

Monk said: “We’ve had two weeks to work on stuff, for this particular game, and I was interested to see the level of fight that goes with it and I thought we got all of that.

“I was really pleased because the last two weeks we’ve worked extremely hard and when you’re in a moment of low confidence you need something like this, you need a performance like this.

“You need certain things in games to go for you and obviously you need a result, something to build on. In terms of the level of performance, it was much more in the realms of what we were looking for.

“Delighted for the players, obviously the travelling fans. Giving them a good trip home is obviously important, compared to the last couple. So overall, a pleasing day. But we need more. We’ve got a game on Monday, we’ve set the standard today and we need to back this up.”

Barnsley head coach Neill Collins felt his side’s performance did not match with a disappointing defeat for his play-off chasing side.

He said: “The first goal was a freak incident, I think that maybe happens one in a million.

“A misplaced back-pass – I won’t go into too much detail but ultimately it’s a freak. Normally it goes back to the goalkeeper and you play it up the field, you play it out, just today we got punished pretty brutally and it was the last thing we needed.

“Then we went on and we really should really have just put the ball in the net. We missed good chances and when you do that, then you end up with what we got. We got punished again.

“They took the second goal, made it really difficult, so I’m so bitterly disappointed with the result but I think there’s parts of our performances that need to be better.

“Would we have liked to create a little bit more? Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s where we can just do a little bit better individually and collectively – that last ball, that final delivery.

“That’s where we’ve got to be really careful because you can’t say we created any less today than we have in a lot of other victories this year.

“But in the victories we punished those chances, today we didn’t and we got pretty brutally punished at the other end.”

Neil Harris was full of praise for his Cambridge side after they continued their impressive start under him with victory over Exeter but insisted they will not be resting on their laurels.

The U’s have picked up seven points from their three games since Harris took charge, and moved 11 points clear of the relegation zone with a 2-0 win against Exeter on Friday night.

Gassan Ahadme netted his sixth goal in six matches from the penalty spot in the first half, before Elias Kachunga sealed the points in the dying stages.

“The attitude and desire from the players to learn and listen to messages was outstanding, and we got our rewards,” said Harris.

“I thought we controlled the majority of the game. When we pressed high and got after them we were outstanding.

“Two goals, a clean sheet, some really good individual performances. Ultimately if we come off at four or five nil no one thinks twice about it.

“To pick up seven points in three games, to see them play for the shirt like they are, it’s a proud place for us at the moment.”

Cambridge travel to fourth-placed Oxford in their next match before another road trip sees them go to fifth-placed Stevenage.

Harris added: “We’ve got two tough away games now. We can take pats on the back for the first two weeks, for the last two home games, and rightly so, but it’s now making sure we build on this.

“No one will get carried away in that changing room or at that training ground tomorrow morning. We know where we’re at, we know what we’re good at and how we can improve.”

Exeter are now winless in 13 League One matches, and could fall into the bottom four if Carlisle or Fleetwood win on Saturday.

Grecians boss Gary Caldwell rued the slow start his side made at the Abbey Stadium.

“We start the game after we go a goal down, again,” he said.

“It’s not a penalty for me, but every week decisions go against us. We have to deal with that.

“I thought we played well up until the last kind of action and then we didn’t create enough from the build-up play that we had. We got into good areas and didn’t create enough good chances.

“It’s a similar story to what’s been happening in recent weeks.

“We needed a little bit more in the final third. But I think we can compete better as well.

“I thought early in the game we didn’t do enough and it wasn’t until we went a goal down that we started to play, and that’s too late. So there are things we can learn there.

“Up until that final third I think some of our play is good. We create good opportunities, we get final third entries and then we don’t get enough in the box.”

Cambridge beat Exeter 2-0 to continue their strong start to life under Neil Harris.

Gassan Ahadme opened the scoring with a 17th-minute penalty before Elias Kachunga wrapped up the points late on as Cambridge extended their unbeaten run to four games – three of which have come since Harris took the reins.

The U’s threatened early on when Danny Andrew’s cross-field ball found Sullay Kaikai, who cut inside and shot narrowly wide from outside the box.

They did not have to wait too much longer take the lead though, with George Thomas’ shot from the edge of the area being handled by Alex Hartridge, allowing Ahadme the chance to score from the penalty spot for a third consecutive game.

Kaikai fizzed another effort just off target from distance as Cambridge dominated the first half, before Exeter started posing a threat after the break.

In the 53rd minute Llmari Niskanen cut the ball back to Yanic Wildschut, whose shot was deflected wide with Jack Stevens beaten.

Stevens denied Sonny Cox as he ran onto Tom Carroll’s pass before Cambridge made the game safe on the break six minutes from the end.

Jack Lankester was denied on the line by Pierce Sweeney but Kachunga was following up to score, ensuring a 13th straight league game without a win for Exeter.

Neil Harris was delighted with Cambridge’s attitude after securing his first win since taking over as Mark Bonner’s replacement.

Cambridge came from behind through Elias Kachunga and Gassan Ahadme’s penalty to beat Blackpool 2-1, having earlier gone behind to a Jordan Rhodes header. Harris’ side held on despite Paul Digby’s late red card.

“I can’t praise them enough, for not just today’s result but large parts of the performance,” Harris said afterwards.

“It’s about personality and character to get three points, and we showed that.

“It was a scrappy performance at times, but a battling performance, I’d say a Cambridge United performance in my opinion. The week in front of it was first class.

“Momentum is a key word. Today we certainly wanted a positive out of it, a positive result was the primary target, but if not then a really positive performance to carry that momentum.

“To get a really strong performance, to win the game like we did, again in adversity like last week from two down to get a point, today down to 10 men to see the game out, I credit my players. That shows I’ve got character in that changing room.

“Momentum carries for another week to Friday night. We’ve got a huge game on Friday night. I’ve said to the boys WNG – win the next game mentality is our work. My focus now is on Exeter already.

“To carry that momentum, to get three points from my first game here at the Abbey as Cambridge United manager, I can’t be more privileged and proud.”

Blackpool boss Neil Critchley expressed his disappointment at his team’s display after being pegged back.

“At 1-0, we were in control of the game, for an away team. We were comfortable, but the two goals that we conceded were really poor goals,” he said.

“Both goals were really questionable in terms of decision-making from the referee. The first one’s a foul, a clear foul and he’s standing right next to it. I’m not sure why he doesn’t give it. The second one’s a clear handball and he misses it again.

“Having said that, with two passes they’re clean through on our goal on both occasions. We were far too open in those moments. From being 1-0 and in control of the game, we give a team that’s (in their) first home game for the new manager, we gave them a lift.

“Then they have something to hold onto in the second half. We showed an inability in the final third to create enough meaningful opportunities to get back into the game.

“If you’re not at your best you’ve got to try and pick up something on the road and we haven’t done that today.”

Charlton head coach Michael Appleton felt referee Thomas Kirk had “a shocker” for Cambridge’s dramatic late equaliser at The Valley.

The Addicks looked to be coasting towards maximum points as they led 2-0 going into the closing stages after second-half goals from Alfie May and Chem Campbell.

Gassan Ahadme sparked hopes of a comeback when he headed home George Thomas’ corner and then the Ipswich loanee converted a penalty in the sixth minute of stoppage time, securing new Cambridge boss Neil Harris a point in his first game in charge.

Kirk awarded the spot-kick despite Tayo Edun’s foul on Jack Lankester appearing to be just outside of the box.

“I’m not going to defend the referee because it is indefensible,” said Appleton.

“Before the lad has even hit the ground the whistle is in his mouth. He has given the penalty and it is clearly outside the box.

“I just told him he had a shocker. Clearly that is what linesmen are there to do – to try and help make decisions. But I don’t think he even gave the linesman an opportunity to make a call or a say on it.

“There are so many mixtures of emotions. The way the first half panned out a lot of players looked a little bit nervous and anxious – they struggled playing with an expectation on them, which is a little bit alarming at half-time.

“Having said that, with the changes we’ve had to make over the last couple of weeks and the players we haven’t got playing at the minute due to injury – the physical presence they have – it wasn’t a massive surprise.

“In the second half we were on the front foot, aggressive and passed the ball forward much more like ourselves. We go 2-0 up and could’ve scored another couple.

“Just little bits of detail have let us down at the end. We can’t allow a free header from seven yards. It is impossible to allow that to happen at any level of football.”

Former Millwall, Cardiff and Gillingham boss Harris signed an 18-month deal with the U’s earlier this week.

“First half we were outstanding and if we’d come in 3-0 up then you’d still feel Charlton got away with that – it could’ve been four or five because we were that good,” said Harris.

“The response to come back from a two-goal deficit was terrific. No-one switched off or downed tools.

“No-one gave up and the subs made an impact. The character, resilience, camaraderie and quality to come back in that game like we did, I can’t praise the players highly enough.

“I’ve always enjoyed friendly banter with Charlton fans. Of course to come from behind like I did, as I did in my first game as Cardiff manager here after being 2-0 down, is quite fitting for me. My first three days in the job have been mega.”

Cambridge manager Mark Bonner singled out the “outstanding” performance of Gassan Ahadme following their 2-0 victory over Fleetwood.

The U’s, who only avoided the drop on the final day last season, made it two wins from two with goals from new signing Ahadme and stalwart Paul Digby the difference.

“Gassan Ahadme has started brilliantly, two in two and his performances have been outstanding,” Bonner said.

“He’s showing people exactly why we wanted him here for a few years. Our test for him is to see how consistent he can be at that level.

“It will be a tough ask but he really does set the tempo for us.

“It was a brilliant performance from Paul Digby, he deserved the goal. He made really hard runs to catch up with attacks and to come back and defend.”

Despite the professional performance, The U’s boss is still not getting ahead of himself and continues to demand more from his players.

“We were a threat all afternoon, defended well when we had to and thought we might have actually done better in terms of our goal return.

“To go in ahead was great but we were probably a bit frustrated we didn’t go in further ahead.

“We defended well in the second half. We’ve been working on set plays a lot and they’re going to be big for us this year as long as we capitalise on them.

“We did and it put us in a good position with a half hour left to be in control of the game to some extent. So we put ourselves in a really strong position.”

On the other hand hosts Fleetwood rarely looked threatening, and manager Scott Brown admitted they needed to go back to what they do best in order to keep clean sheets.

Brown said: “Disappointed obviously with the result. I take full responsibility for that one, what we’ve worked on in pre-season didn’t come off so we need to get back to doing what we do best.

“It’s being that horrible team doing what we do best and keeping clean sheets, making us hard to play through.

“We were maybe a little bit open today and the game plan probably wasn’t followed through as well as we possibly could do.

“I think the first 13, 14 minutes we controlled the game well and then we started to mix and match.

“Listen as I say, I’ve got to take this one on the head. The lads have given us a lot in pre-season but now we need to bounce back and they’ll be a lot of changes that’s for sure.

“We need to make sure we win games, we win our battles, we win individual battles, we’re first to the ball and today we weren’t that.”

Cambridge continued their winning start to the League One season with a 2 -0 victory over Fleetwood.

Fleetwood started well dominating possession and putting Cambridge under pressure, but they could not make it count.

It was the visitors who opened the scoring just after 30 minutes, with Saikou Janneh’s shot parried into the path of Paul Digby who tapped in the rebound.

Fleetwood almost equalised after the break, but Jack Marriott’s shot was well saved by Jack Stevens.

Cambridge eventually doubled their lead on the hour mark, with Gassan Ahadme towering over the Fleetwood defence to head home a corner.

The Cod Army responded by making further substitutions, which led to a few half chances, but they never troubled Stevens.

Scott Brown’s side continued to push, but the six minutes of added time was not enough to get them back into it.

Cambridge managed to hold on continuing a dream start for Mark Bonner’s side who only avoided relegation last season on the final day.

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