Alex Mowatt led a spirited fightback as Garry Monk jumped out of the frying pan and into the friar at the Abbey.
Greasier than a full English breakfast, conditions were ripe for an upset in the spiritual home of University Challenge – but after a supine first half from Leeds, Mowatt went to the top of the class.
Fingers on buzzers, no conferring, here’s your starter. When was the last time Leeds made any headway in the FA Cup?
Yes, that’s right – it was back in 1987 that they last reached the semi-finals.
And for your bonus marks: How many managers have they gone through since Billy Bremner’s side lost 3-2 against Coventry with their fans penned like sheep in the dangerously overcrowded Leppings Lane end at Hillsborough?
Answer: Seventeen. But Monk, the seventh Leeds manager in four years since Massimo Cellino brought his tombola to Yorkshire, can be well-satisfied with their second-half revival at the Cambs Glass stadium, as the naming rights police call it now.
Monk made eight changes with both eyes on Friday night’s Championship promotion duel with Derby, where he will be without influential defender Pontus Jansson after the Swede’s yellow card here.
What a farce that Leeds should play two games in five days, neither of them at the weekend.
And what a farce that they should have known their reward for reaching the fourth round was a trip to AFC Wimbledon or Sutton United before the third round had even been completed.
Before Leeds could think of booking Dickie Guy and Peter Lorimer to re-enact the Dons keeper’s famous FA Cup penalty save 42 years ago, however, there was the small matter of Shaun Derry setting a booby-trap for his old club across the Fens.
Uche Ikpeazu, a battering-ram striker but more raw than steak tartare, tested Marco Silvestre’s reflexes after bulldozing his way through as Derry’s League Two bounty hunters made a lively start.
Farmed out on loan to four clubs without kicking a ball in anger for Watford, Ikpeazu played like a man possessed, and after 25 minutes he added a cutting edge to his brute force.
Unsettled by a rash of first-half yellow cards, including Jansson’s, Leeds weaved nice patterns and were pretty to watch – but so is a pair of Laura Ashley curtains.
It took them until five minutes before the break to test Cambridge keeper Will Norris, who tipped Mowatt’s dipping 25-yarder to safety and blocked Liam Cooper’s header from the resulting corner with his legs.
But 11 minutes after he restart, with Monk’s side showing more purpose, they were level as Mowatt’s pitching-wedge cross to the far post was headed home by Stuart Dallas.
It took just eight minutes for Leeds to turn the tie on its head as Mowatt flicked Jansson’s header beyond Norris at point-blank range.
And Leeds’ only moment of anxiety, as they held on comfortably, was Silvestre spilling Piero Mingoia’s shot like the proverbial bar of soap.
Cambridge United 1-0 Leeds United | Uche Ikpeazu 25′
Cambridge United 1-1 Leeds United | Stuart Dallas 56′
Cambridge United 1-2 Leeds United | Alex Mowatt 64′