Cambridge manager Mark Bonner was pleased with the spirit displayed by his promotion contenders as they picked up “three big points” with a 2-1 win at Grimsby.
Goals from Adam May and Paul Mullin put the U’s in control at Blundell Park but the home side responded through Elliott Hewitt.
Despite hitting the post through Montel Gibson in added time, there was to be no way back for Grimsby, who were managed by Paul Hurst for the first time since his reappointment.
With four minutes on the clock, the visitors went ahead when May’s deflected strike wrong-footed Sam Russell and nestled into the back of the net.
Mullin raced through and rifled home his 17th of the season to make it 2-0 while a looping header from Hewitt gave Hurst’s men brief hope at the death.
Bonner said: “It wasn’t a classic. We’ve really hung on there at the end.
“In the second half they wouldn’t let us get out and play the direct game that got us success in the first half. We lacked a bit of quality at times but we had some good chances.
“Our two goals were good. It was obvious what we were trying to work on.
“We were trying to get down the side of the two centre-backs. That worked really well for us and it gave us a good platform to go in at half-time. We were really pleased with that.
“In the second half, it was an absolute slog. You know what it’s like. From corners everyone was in the box and our goalkeeper made a really good save at the end there.
“We hung on and took what was a really big three points. That’s six out nine over Christmas, which is a good return from a tough week.”
A seventh defeat in 10 games saw Grimsby drop into the bottom two of the Football League.
Hurst said: “I’m disappointed to lose. I’m not going to stand here and say that I’m happy. Football is about winning games, particularly with the position we are in.
“We have dropped into the bottom two. But, in truth, I’m also pleased to be back out there on the touchline.
“Football has been missing fans and this game was a prime example of when we could have done with the fans here. I’ve missed that side of it.
“I’m happy in some ways but I don’t want anyone to be mistaken that I’m happy about the result. We had a couple of opportunities to put them under pressure but didn’t take them.
“We spoke to the players and it was a decent enough response from them. But the second goal made it a real uphill battle. In the second half, I have to give the players credit. They had a go.
“On another day, we could have quite easily taken a point.”