CONOR Sellars scoured the kitchen in the press room frantically looking for a bottle opener.

Trying to get the lid of a well-earned beer after the game was about the only problem City’s temporary bosses have struggled to solve in the past week.

Sellars and Mark Trueman had much to toast having secured the first three points since November 3.

Not that Trueman intended to go overboard with celebrations.

“I’ll probably enjoy tonight but then get back to work preparing for Grimsby if they still want us,” he said modestly.

If, as seems likely, the academy duo will take charge again at Grimsby – potentially with a new boss looking on – then City can head east with confidence.

These two have restored the belief and the spirit in players who had appeared so jaded and broken.

The last two games have reminded the fans watching from afar – and probably the individuals themselves – what they are capable of and breathed some life into a season that looked in danger of falling off a cliff.

A first win in eight; a first clean sheet in that time and finally a first victory against a team that were above them in the table.

Minor milestones maybe but important psychological barriers cleared and genuine forward steps once again.

Nobody’s heads will be in the clouds, that’s not the mantra of Trueman and Sellars, but City look to be out of freefall.

That is a sound legacy to pass on to whoever will take the full-time reins.

They have succeeded in taking the immediate heat off the league position – and the pressure off the shoulders of the club’s decision makers.

A caretaking dream team for rookie chief executive Ryan Sparks.

They have helped City rediscover the ingredients that any supporter craves; hard work, determination and being prepared to bust a gut for the badge.

How Stuart McCall would have loved some similar performances to the last two when the wheels began to come loose.

How he would have loved the luxury of being able to pick from a squad now boosted by the return of Billy Clarke, Gareth Evans and Kurtis Guthrie in the wake of the hugely-missed Lee Novak.

Trueman recalled Clarke and had the chance to bring on Evans and Guthrie as the contest headed towards a tense conclusion. He even let Clayton Donaldson put his feet up for the entire 90 minutes.

There was no need for major tweaks after the battling point that halted the losing slide at Crawley.

And victory over a Cambridge side who began the day in a play-off place just firmed up the foundations for the next hot-seat occupant.

The win was built along the same lines as last Tuesday, an organised, structured set-up that was difficult to break through while still showing a threat on the attack.

Like Crawley, Cambridge were frustrated by defiant defending that has been conspicuous by its absence on too many previous occasions.

Like Crawley hot-shot Max Watters, Cambridge’s 18-goal frontman Paul Mullin was restricted to feeding off scraps without once being able to test Richard O’Donnell.

The City skipper had only one save to make – although it was an absolute blinder to prevent winning hopes being dashed in the deluge late on.

In front of him, the back four were rock solid and everyone knew their jobs.

Paudie O’Connor carried on the aggressive, ball-winning nature of his midweek performance - clearly much more comfortable playing in a middle two - while teenager Finn Cousin-Dawson held his ground at right back and used his height effectively when pressed.

Levi Sutton was the midfield terrier once more, snapping around the ball and covering so much ground.

It didn’t always come off but he never stopped trying to make surging runs forward while maintaining his duties as protection for Elliot Watt.

Trueman also made a point of highlighting Watt’s work without the ball – the unnoticed, ugly side of the game that has really come to the fore in the last week.

But there was nothing low-key or under the radar about the game’s decisive moment three minutes before half-time.

Paudie O’Connor pinged a precise long pass from one side of the pitch to the other and then it was all about Harry Pritchard.

His first touch brought the ball down on his chest cutting in from the line. It sat up invitingly after bouncing twice on the lively pitch and Pritchard left fly with his right foot – arrowing a half-volley past Callum Burton and inside the far bottom corner of the net.

“I probably wouldn’t have tried that a few weeks ago,” admitted the midfielder.

“When you’re going into games not as confident as you should be, things don’t go your way and people don’t try to do something different.

“I can’t remember scoring too many like that, especially on my weaker foot!”

It was an emphatic sign that Pritchard’s luck as much as City’s had changed. Because he must have been wondering up to that point.

Having been the unfortunate scorer of Crawley’s equaliser, Pritchard was the guilty party when Paudie O’Connor’s early header was ruled out for offside after it flicked off its head on the way into the Cambridge net.

So, there was no doubt some relief mingled with the jubilation as he jumped for joy in front of an empty Midland Road stand.

Two thousand tickets had, of course, been sold for the game in the hope that the restrictions might be lifted. Fat chance of that – although watching on iFollow did at least give supporters the chance to savour the goal again on the replay.

City were good value for that lead and threatened to put the game out of sight with a flurry of chances at the start of the second half.

In four minutes of intense home pressure, Paudie O’Connor headed over and Lee Novak twice went close – first guiding the ball past the post from Sutton’s pass then seeing his route to goal in a one-on-one suddenly blocked off by a smart block from Harry Darling.

City went even closer when Novak’s nuisance value caused panic from an O’Donnell clearance and Callum Cooke followed up to hit the post before the striker put the rebound straight in Burton’s arms.

Evans could have had an assist from his first meaningful touch on the pitch, drilling in a low cross for Cooke to fire at the keeper when well-placed.

And Austin Samuels did everything right but the finish when he broke away on the counter but screwed his shot a yard wide.

But the margin remained a single goal which encouraged Cambridge into a desperate late push to salvage something.

They created one big moment when Joe Ironside’s fierce volley from close range was brilliant batted away by O’Donnell. The save was, as Trueman credited, just as good as a goal.

And with that City had their first league win since November 3 and the stand-in leaders even more credit in the bank.