Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal may have had an uneasy night’s viewing squirming in his seat, but Cambridge winger Ryan Donaldson believes the hosts were “comfortable” in their goalless draw which earned a glamour FA Cup replay at Old Trafford.
The League Two side, the lowest ranked team left in the competition, will go to Manchester for a money-spinning fourth-round replay after deservedly holding United, the 11-time FA Cup winners.
There were moments of alarm for Van Gaal – particularly Josh Coulson’s header on to the roof of the net in the first half – and Cambridge at the R Costings Abbey Stadium.
But Donaldson, a former Newcastle trainee, was relaxed about the late bombardment which resulted in goalkeeper Chris Dunn saving well from Radamel Falcao, Robin van Persie and Angel di Maria.
“We were under the cosh for almost all the second half, (but) we’ve got a good resilience about us,” Donaldson said.
“I didn’t feel we were in too much trouble. They had a couple of chances, but I thought we were reasonably comfortable. I thought we deserved a draw.”
Van Gaal said before the game that a 4-4-2 formation gives him a “twitchy ass” but he selected four at the back due to it resulting in more chances.
He complained of “every aspect” of the match going against his team afterwards.
Van Gaal admitted his side must find solutions to earn a victory and was relieved to still be in the competition.
“Cambridge are the weaker team – everybody knows that – and you have to solve that problem (of how to beat them),” the Dutchman told MUTV.
“You cannot always solve that problem and I have seen that a lot of times.
“But fortunately we are still in the FA Cup. We have to play at home and we have to beat them.”
Cambridge head coach Richard Money defended the playing surface after criticism from Van Gaal, telling BBC Radio 5 Live: “The groundsman did a fantastic job to keep it in the condition it was.
“Yes it broke up a little bit but it’s the same for both teams.”
Van Gaal’s criticisms were quite disingenuous and showed his frustration after his side failed to deal with a Cambridge team which twice won at Wembley last season, winning the FA Trophy and earning a return to the Football League after a nine-year absence.
Cambridge captain Tom Champion revelled in an evening he will remember forever.
“The boys can be proud of their performance and we’ve got a big reward to come playing at Old Trafford,” Champion said.
“Thinking back to the days working in an office 9 till 5 and then being alongside those players is definitely surreal, but something I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
“The (match) at Wembley to gain promotion back to the Football League was bigger, for what it meant to the club.
“Still a surreal feeling coming off the pitch with a result against a team full of world-class players. It’s right up there.”
One Cambridge player has had regular experience of Old Trafford.
Luke Chadwick, who came off the bench for his hometown club, made 39 appearances for United and won a Premier League winners’ medal in 2001.
The 34-year-old, who watched Cambridge twice reach the FA Cup quarter-finals in the early 1990s, told MUTV: “It will be great to go back to Old Trafford.
“Without a doubt the replay is going to help the club. But it’s also great for the players to go up there and experience a wonderful, wonderful stadium like Old Trafford.
“It was fantastic to see the place (Abbey Stadium) like that, like the old days – it was an incredible atmosphere and an incredible result for the club.”