Mark Bonner praised his side at both ends of the pitch after Cambridge beat Carlisle 3-0 to make a winning start to the season.
The U’s started their League Two campaign fast, racing into a two-goal lead inside 14 minutes through Luke Hannant and Paul Mullin.
They then withstood a spell of Carlisle pressure before Joe Ironside’s late goal sealed a result that Bonner described as “far from comfortable”.
“No one should be deceived by the scoreline that it was, because it was really difficult, but we’re delighted with the result,” Bonner said.
“It’s a massive clean sheet, we had to really earn that to take three points in the first game of the season and shut them out when they’ve played with such an aggressive style.
“We went in today knowing the game was going to look very different to the last few that we’ve played.
“That’s a real eye-opener that the season’s started because it went up a level of intensity and they were relentless in how they attacked, but we defended the box well. We scored the third goal at a really important time.
“We want to be a fast-starting team, so I’m so, so pleased with the two goals we’ve scored in the first half – I thought we were excellent. It’s really pleasing that both strikers have scored, the third goal Joey took really well.
“We think we’ve got a little bit of everything. We’ve got to develop in all of those areas because we’ve got to develop in all of them.
“To get through a game like that shows a bit of backbone and resilience, maybe something that’s been missing from us in recent seasons.”
Carlisle boss Chris Beech felt that the difference between the two sides was clear.
“Their two centre-halves were just better than ours,” he reflected.
“Any cross that came in they headed. Any clearance they made, the two centre forwards for Cambridge did very well in terms of being very physical, nudging and pushing and clipping heels, they did that excellently so it put ours out of our stride and I think that made a significant difference to the result.
“I would imagine we’ve had close to 20 attempts but not enough working the goalkeeper.
“If I’m being truly honest, if you include both this week and last week’s game it’s hard to judge your opponent in terms of how they play but they beat us 3-0.
“I think we need to stop being so nice. The two centre-halves were constantly fouling in the first half and got away with it, and the two centre-forwards were constantly fouling my centre-halves and got away with it, and it made a big difference today. That’s all they did, Cambridge.”