Cambridge head coach Mark Bonner admitted his players were simply too exhausted to celebrate their 1-0 win at Port Vale.
The League Two leaders took the points with a fantastic long-range strike by Liam O’Neil five minutes from time.
Bonner acknowledged they had really been made to work for their victory at Vale Park.
He said: “It was some goal wasn’t it?
“Liam’s hit that so well, he’s exhausted himself with his celebrations too but it was great to see. I love winning games like that. It’s a brilliant way to do it.
“It’s another clean sheet for us as well, which was good to see. My goodness, it was a tough game, though, really tough. The boys are shot to bits in there.
“The impact from the bench was great, the boys who came on, Joe Ironside and Liam O’Neil, made a big difference for us and we got some minutes into one or two of the other boys.
“It was a real collective effort and a hard-working performance.
“It’s a real sickener if you’re on the other side of it but for us it was a really important win.
“I’m going to say it, I think we deserved it in the end.
“You’d like to think the changing room was bouncing but there’s not enough energy left in there for them to bounce right now. It’s quiet but we’re all satisfied.”
While Cambridge – whose late arrival due to an accident on the M6 caused the kick-off to be delayed – headed for home in good spirits, Darrell Clarke is still searching for his first win after three games as Port Vale’s new boss.
Despite feeling his team deserved some reward against the table-topping U’s, he warned his new squad they are far from safe in the division.
He said: “It was a quality goal to win the game wasn’t it, a worldie finish after we matched them in a pretty even game, that was a real sucker-punch.
“The lads have given me everything but we lost to the league leaders, which shows they’ve got that extra bit of quality on the day.
“We’re always looking over our shoulder, I knew that when I walked in the building, I knew we were in a dogfight, I knew what I was coming into but we’ve got more than enough in there to climb the table.
“The effort and commitment from the lads in my three games here has been very, very good.
“Our fitness levels aren’t great so that’s something we’ve got to work on, making sure we get players out of the treatment room and out on the pitch.
“But other than that our performance probably warranted a point.
“Effort and commitment should be a given, and it has been great, but we’ve got to be better as a football team if we want to win matches.”