League Two
CambridgeCambridge United3GrimsbyGrimsby Town0

Cambridge United 3-0 Grimsby Town: Hoolahan & Mullin score as U's seal promotion

By James LawBBC Sport
Cambridge celebrate
Cambridge had lost their previous two games but managed to get over the promotion line

Cambridge United secured promotion to League One with a straightforward win over already-relegated Grimsby Town.

Needing a point to seal a top three finish, Liam O'Neil smashed in a close-range volley to ease any early nerves.

Former Norwich playmaker Wes Hoolahan doubled their lead when his free-kick from out wide evaded everyone in the box and bounced into the far corner.

Paul Mullin put the U's 3-0 up with his 32nd league goal of the season - thumping home a free-kick.

Mark Bonner's Cambridge would have won the title had Cheltenham failed to beat Harrogate in their final game, but a 4-1 victory for the Robins means the U's finish second.

Grimsby, who are challenging their relegation from League Two with the English Football League, had most of the possession at a blustery Abbey Stadium but managed just two shots on target and end the season bottom of the table.

The U's had squandered two previous opportunities to wrap up promotion, including a 5-4 defeat at Harrogate last week, but they always seemed in control and got all of their goals from set-pieces to ensure they will play in the third tier for the first time in 19 years.

Bonner's U's upset the odds

Coming off the back of 21st and 16th-placed finishes in the past two campaigns, most were predicting another season in the bottom half for Cambridge.

However, they finished last season reasonably well under caretaker boss Bonner - who was then given the job full-time - while the free-agent summer signings of former Republic of Ireland international Hoolahan and striker Mullin would prove inspired.

Even before their opening League Two game, victory at Championship side Birmingham in the EFL Cup and the arrival of two American businessmen to provide "significant new investment" had supporters cautiously optimistic.

The U's then put three past Carlisle and scored five at Morecambe and Scunthorpe, all without reply, in their opening six league matches as former Tranmere frontman Mullin could not stop scoring.

A run of just two wins in nine saw Cambridge end 2020 out of the top seven but Bonner's side followed that up with a seven-game unbeaten streak and never looked back.

Midfielder Hoolahan, 38, has had his minutes sensibly managed and rolled back the years with seven goals and nine assists.

League Two player of the year Mullin, who has had a stand at the Abbey Stadium temporarily named after him after breaking the club's long-standing record for goals in a league season, has often benefitted from his creativity.

Rookie boss Bonner, 35, has been academy manager, first-team coach and assistant manager at the U's and has now led his boyhood club to League One for the first time since 2002.

Cambridge United boss Mark Bonner told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire:

"We've done great throughout the year, we've had a tough year - I think anyone who's in football this year knows how difficult it's been and we've overcome it with our best season for some time.

"In the end we held our nerve and got across the line. It's been an edgy couple of weeks getting ready for this game.

"We've wanted to seal it - hadn't quite been able to - but I'm proud that we've done it today.

"I haven't achieved it, this group of players and staff have. I would've been out by September if we didn't have Gary Waddock [assistant] with me, helping me."

Line-ups

Cambridge

Formation 4-1-2-1-2

  • 25Burton
  • 2Knoyle
  • 15Okedina
  • 5Taylor
  • 11Dunk
  • 4Digby
  • 14Hoolahan
  • 7Hannant
  • 8O'Neil
  • 20Ironside
  • 10Mullin

Substitutes

  • 3Iredale
  • 6Drysdale
  • 13McKenzie-Lyle
  • 16Alese
  • 18Tracey
  • 19May
  • 44Boateng

Grimsby

Formation 5-3-2

  • 1McKeown
  • 2Hendrie
  • 22Hewitt
  • 25PollockSubstituted forJackson Jrat 73'minutes
  • 26Menayese
  • 31Khouri
  • 15Clifton
  • 8Coke
  • 14SpokesSubstituted forScannellat 57'minutes
  • 21John-Lewis
  • 7GreenSubstituted forAdlardat 73'minutes

Substitutes

  • 6Waterfall
  • 11Scannell
  • 13Battersby
  • 16Jackson Jr
  • 33Adlard
  • 36Habergham
  • 42Lamy
Referee:
Tom Nield

Match Stats

Home TeamCambridgeAway TeamGrimsby
Possession
Home33%
Away67%
Shots
Home5
Away11
Shots on Target
Home4
Away2
Corners
Home2
Away4
Fouls
Home15
Away15

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Cambridge United 3, Grimsby Town 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Cambridge United 3, Grimsby Town 0.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Rollin Menayese (Grimsby Town).

  4. Post update

    Paul Mullin (Cambridge United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  5. Post update

    Attempt missed. Harry Clifton (Grimsby Town) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner. Assisted by Luis Adlard following a set piece situation.

  6. Post update

    Hand ball by Liam O'Neil (Cambridge United).

  7. Post update

    Foul by Rollin Menayese (Grimsby Town).

  8. Post update

    Paul Mullin (Cambridge United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  9. Post update

    Attempt missed. Ira Jackson Jr (Grimsby Town) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left. Assisted by Harry Clifton.

  10. Post update

    Corner, Grimsby Town. Conceded by Callum Burton.

  11. Post update

    Attempt saved. Ira Jackson Jr (Grimsby Town) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top left corner.

  12. Post update

    Lenell John-Lewis (Grimsby Town) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Liam O'Neil (Cambridge United).

  14. Post update

    Elliott Hewitt (Grimsby Town) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Joe Ironside (Cambridge United).

  16. Post update

    Attempt missed. Ira Jackson Jr (Grimsby Town) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Lenell John-Lewis.

  17. Goal!

    Goal! Cambridge United 3, Grimsby Town 0. Paul Mullin (Cambridge United) from a free kick with a right footed shot to the bottom right corner.

  18. Post update

    Foul by Giles Coke (Grimsby Town).

  19. Post update

    Paul Mullin (Cambridge United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  20. Post update

    Foul by Rollin Menayese (Grimsby Town).

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As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Cheltenham4624101261392282
2Cambridge462481473492480
3Bolton462310135950979
4Morecambe462391469581178
5Newport4620131357421573
6Forest Green462013135951873
7Tranmere462013135550573
8Salford4619141354342071
9Exeter4618161271502170
10Carlisle461812166051966
11Leyton Orient461710195355-261
12Crawley461613175662-661
13Port Vale46179205757060
14Stevenage461418144141060
15Bradford461611194853-559
16Mansfield461319145755258
17Harrogate46169215261-957
18Oldham46159227281-954
19Walsall461120154553-853
20Colchester461118174461-1751
21Barrow461311225359-650
22Scunthorpe46139244164-2348
23Southend461015212958-2945
24Grimsby461013233769-3243
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