Cambridge 4-0 Gosport
Man of the match Ryan Donaldson scored twice to help guide Cambridge United to FA Carlsberg Trophy glory at Wembley Stadium.
The former Newcastle trainee hit a second-half double in Sunday’s Final to sink Gosport Borough from the Conference South.
Ryan Bird put the U’s ahead on 38 minutes, Donaldson then netted a nine-minute brace and Luke Berry completed the win from the penalty spot.
It was Cambridge’s first-ever success in this competition and it gave their captain, Ian Miller, the chance to lift The Trophy for the second time in four years, following his former club Darlington’s win in 2011.
Bird was Cambridge’s Semi-Final hero with three goals against Grimsby and the 26-year-old had a gilt-edged opportunity to open the scoring after just four minutes.
A mistake from Gosport right-back Lee Molyneaux left Bird one-on-one with Borough goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore and the dreadlocked No1 came out on top, saving the low shot with his legs.
Alex Pike’s side recovered from that early scare with skipper Jamie Brown, his midfield partner Danny Smith and striker Tim Sills testing U’s keeper Will Norris.
It had developed into a fairly open contest and Ashmore was soon called into action again, this time to deny Josh Gillies who had been played in by Liam Hughes.
It appeared only a matter of time before the deadlock would be broken and the goal came from a likely source, Cambridge goal machine Bird.
The striker latched onto Berry’s lobbed through ball into the area and lofted his effort over the advancing Ashmore to give his side the lead.
Richard’s Money’s Conference Premier side took this lead into the half-time break and they came out fully refreshed after the interval for Donaldson to hit a quick-fire double to effectively put the game to bed before the hour mark.
First, Hughes played a long diagonal ball which Donaldson took expertly in his stride. He burst into the area, rounded Ashmore and slotted home.
His second was less easy on the eye but equally as effective. Berry hit a shot across goal which bounced back off the post and led to a goalmouth scramble. Donaldson had a couple of bites at the cherry before slamming home from close range.
That goal ended the game as a contest but it was not an end to the action.
Gosport striker Justin Bennett tried to haul the Hampshire club back into contention but could only drag a low 20-yard shot past the post.
Borough’s Sam Pearce then experienced a moment to remember and a moment to forget in quick succession. The midfielder made a tremendous last-ditch tackle to deny Tom Champion a clean strike at goal, but just moments later he felled Cambridge substitute Andy Pugh inside the box.
Referee Craig Pawson pointed to the spot and Berry made no mistake with the penalty, sending Ashmore the wrong way for Cambridge’s fourth of the afternoon.
But Gosport refused to lie down and Dan Woodward hit the bar with a sumptuous, angled long-ranger in the dying moments.
The game had long been won, however, and the Cambridge faithful celebrated wildly at full time.
Cambridge United (4-3-3): 13 Will Norris; 14 Richard Tait, 6 Ian Miller (C), 4 Josh Coulson, 3 Greg Taylor; 18 Luke Berry, 8 Tom Champion, 17 Liam Hughes; 29 Josh Gillies, 25 Ryan Bird, 7 Ryan Donaldson.
Substitutes: 15 Andy Pugh for Gillies (61), 24 Nathan Arnold for Hughes (73), 5 Tom Bonner for Coulson (87)
Substitutes not used: 2 Kevin Roberts, 16 Mitch Austin
Goals: Bird (38), Donaldson (50, 59), Berry (pen 78)
Manager: Richard Money
Gosport Borough (4-4-2): 1 Nathan Ashmore; 2 Lee Molyneaux, 3 Andy Forbes, 6 Sam Pearce, 5 Brett Poache; 35 Josh Carmichael, 4 Jamie Brown (C), 8 Danny Smith, 18 Michael Gosney; 9 Tim Sills, 10 Justin Bennett.
Substitutes: 12 Rory Williams for Sills (58), 15 Dan Woodward for Smith (58), 14 Dan Wooden for Gosney (72)
Substitutes not used: 11 Adam Wilde, 23 Ryan Scott
Bookings: Pearce (78)
Manager: Alex Pike
Referee: Craig Pawson