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10 April 2023 Venue University of Bolton Stadium Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

Match Preview: Trotters vs U's

9 April 2023

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Cambridge United’s Easter Monday matchup sees them make the journey to Sky Bet League One play-off chasers Bolton Wanderers, with three potentially season-defining points up for grabs at the University of Bolton Stadium...

Looking to capitalise on their recent surge and secure a hat-trick of victories for the first time in 2022/23, Mark Bonner’s men have managed to cut the gap to safety from seven points to three within the space of a week, but will not rest on their laurels as they look to make life difficult for the Trotters.

How to Watch

Just under 450 U’s fans have booked their day out in Greater Manchester, with Monday’s clash kicking off at 3pm.

Please note, tickets are now off sale and this is an all-ticket fixture. No sales will be available on the day. 

Fans without a ticket can stream the action live with an iFollow Match Pass. Passes cost £10 and are available to purchase by clicking here.

Opposition Focus

Formed in 1874, the four-time FA Cup winners and newly-crowned Papa Johns Trophy champions have had a topsy-turvy couple of decades under their belt, from the highs of a UEFA Cup run to sliding to the pits of the fourth tier. Since the appointment of Ian Evatt in July 2020, the Trotters’ faithful have been accustomed to an impressive incline, which has consisted of one promotion, stabilisation and the awakening of a giant. The aim of playing Championship football for the first time since 2019 looms closer.

Tipped by many to improve on last season’s ranking of 9th, the Trotters possessed early signs of progression when they gobbled up eight points from their first four, keeping three clean sheets in the process. Although the formidable Sheffield Wednesday and Plymouth Argyle consigned them to consecutive defeats, they responded with four successive, and comprehensive successes. Not suffering any sticky patches in form, they continued to flirt with the top six picture, before a run of just one loss in 12, which included five consecutive wins, put them up to a season-high of 3rd in mid-February. Last time out, a stubborn 0-1 triumph down in Devon against Exeter City terminated a four-game winless streak and, importantly, restored hopes of a potential double-winning season. One of three on 67 points, every point is precious from here on for the hosts, who have lost just three times on home soil. 

No need to change a successful formula, Evatt continues to utilise the bodies in a compact 3-4-1-2 set-up. Mainstay goalkeeper James Trafford, who is heavily-rated by parent club Manchester City, looks destined to reach the very top – the 20-year-old is after his 20th league shut out of the season and provides comfort and leadership skills. With influential heartbeat Ricardo Santos and the consistent Eoin Toal out of action for the foreseeable future, fellow Citizen Luke Mbete-Tabu, steady Gethin Jones and George Johnston will deputise. Dominating the flanks are Declan John and exciting prospect Conor Bradley, who hails from Liverpool and is in double figures for goal involvements. Aaron Morley, Josh Sheehan and Michael Williams pull the strings in the middle of the park, using their energy to supply the plethora of attackers. Top goalscorer Dion Charles is on 18 for the season and is usually partnered by experienced head Elias Kachunga and January signing Victor Adeboyejo.

Form Guide

Bolton Wanderers: DLDWW

Cambridge United: DLLWW

United’s Approach

Momentum is well and truly piercing through United’s camp after they registered an accomplished 2-1 triumph against Fleetwood Town on Easter Friday.

Staking a claim when it mattered, the U’s felt in cruise control for the majority of the 90 minutes after a sumptuous curler from Jack Lankester minutes into the match gave the Abbey a vibrant buzz. A composed penalty from Sam Smith on the hour mark handed the hosts a comfortably cushion, which they protected despite conceding to Junior Quitirna’s consolation.

Hailing the work rate and negotiation of his men, Bonner stated: “I thought we were excellent, a really good performance and a spirited performance, but also some real good quality in there as well. I think there is a group of players there that understands the situation and they’re playing like they’re desperate to do well… they got the balance right today between physical intensity but quality as well.”

Back-to-back league wins for the first time since early September means that, with seven finals to go, United are more than within a shout of pulling off a mighty escape. Rising to 22nd in the congested table, the gap to bridge reads three points, but an inferior goal difference essentially counts as an extra point. Boasting the best form of the sides around them - and still to play three relegation rivals - if the U’s can build on their impressive foundations in attack and tick the points steadily, they have every chance of taking the survival pursuit to the wire.


Bolton Wanderers Wins: 7

Cambridge United Wins: 4

Draws: 7

Down Memory Lane

It was a feisty encounter when the sides last met, with a total of 10 cards being dished out as a spirited United battled to a stalemate at the Abbey Stadium.

Despite enjoying a man advantage for the latter stages of the November encounter after Dempsey received his marching orders, the U’s were unable to capitalise on any of the gilt-edged chances they created and therefore had to settle for the solitary point from the thoroughly improved performance.

Addressing his XI’s desire that day, Bonner said: “That is what you want. Really good atmosphere in the stadium, really good intensity in both teams… I thought it was as entertaining as 0-0s can come and actually, it was quite an open game in both halves. There was a lot of penalty box action and there could have been goals.”

Of their previous eight attempts, United have claimed one victory on away soil, that coming in an October 1981 Division Two tie when they clinched a thrilling 3-4 triumph. With the University of Bolton Stadium opening 16 years later, the travellers look to ensure it’s a case of third time lucky by registering a first-ever win at Monday’s venue – it would certainly be some time to do it.


Referee: David Rock

Assistant Referee: Conor Brown

Assistant Referee: Paul Stonier

Fourth Official: Alan Clayton

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Match Reports

Smith scores late to rescue point at Bolton

10 April 2023

Sponsored by

Cambridge United salvaged what could be a crucial point against Bolton Wanderers on Monday as Sam Smith’s last minute header made it 1-1 at the death…

The U’s performance belief the respective positions of the two sides, as United pushed Wanderers all the way and got what they deserved deep into added time.

After failing to score from an encouraging first half though, it was always likely that the home team would push hard for a winning goal after the break, and so it proved as Declan John put the hosts ahead in the 67th minute.

United continued to push for a route back into the game though and finally earned their reward with the deftest of headers from Sam Smith to turn in Lankester free-kick from the edge of the box.

The result makes it seven points from the last nine available ahead of Saturday’s Cambridgeshire Derby.

Mark Bonner reverted to a five-at-the-back formation and recalled Michael Morrison and Steve Seddon into the team, in place of Harrison Dunk and Jack Lankester.

Full of confidence after the last two winning performances, United started the game well and more than matched their lofty hosts during the early exchanges. But for a better final pass or decision on a handful of occasions, the U’s could have found themselves in position to take the lead inside the opening 20 minutes.

On the other end of things, whilst Bolton enjoyed the majority of the ball, they didn’t offer much in terms of goalmouth action with United frustrating the home side in-front of a near capacity crowd.

In fact, it was the U’s who were the more threatening throughout the first half. Wanderers were ponderous on the ball in their own half and the press from the boys in blue was causing problems for Bolton.

One such example came when Knibbs stole the ball off Jones in trademark fashion on the left hand side before being closed down just before he was ready to pick out a pass. Moments later, an identical situation opened up for Seddon, who found Brophy inside the 12 yard box but he couldn’t divert the ball towards goal.

Bolton had their first sight of goal on 35 minutes when Declan John was played in down the left. Rather than pick out a teammate in a more central position, he opted to go for goal and was denied by the feet of Mitov.

As the groans of the home supporters grew more and more audible, it was the U’s who continued to look dangerous. A perfect pass from Brophy over the top for Smith found the striker in an advanced position, who laid the ball off for his striker partner, Knibbs, but after taking a touch around the outside to create the shooting chance, he dragged his effort wide.

A strong half from United who went into the break with the scores level, although perhaps it could have been even better given the way the contest played out.

Bolton came out the traps quick to begin the second half and but for some brilliant defending from Seddon to throw his head in the way of Bolton’s Bradley, the home team could have taken the lead after just a couple of minutes.

The threat on the counter was still there from United though, and but for a better pass from Brophy to Knibbs on 53 minutes, a clear sight of goal was there for the taking.

Smith came the width of a football away from sending the away end into raptures before the hour mark, as he curled his free-kick from 25 yards out just wide of the near post.

Ian Evatt responded by bringing on a triple substitution as his side upped the ante to go in search of a winning goal. On 67 minutes, they finally got it as Declan John smashed in from close range after Mitov made a brilliant initial save to deny Johnston, but right into the path of John.

Mark Bonner brought on a triple threat of his own as Dunk, Lankester and Tracey came onto the pitch in place of Seddon, Brophy and Knibbs.

Lankester came close to making an immediate impact, as he tried to find Smith behind the defence, but alert defending saw the pass cut-out before it could reach the striker.

As United pushed forward in desperate search of an equaliser, the game opened up and Bolton could have sealed the deal in the closing minutes. First, Charles rattled the woodwork after a rapid counter  up the pitch before chaos ensued in the goal mouth with a number of blocked shots and rebounds that eventually came to nothing.

The U’s final roll of the dice came with five minutes or normal time remaining, as Okenabirhie and Ironside came on R. Bennett and Digby, and the switch almost immediately paid off, as Okenabirhie won the ball back inside the area, before crossing for Ironside, who headed agonizingly wide of the post.

Six minutes added time were awarded and when Okenabirhie was sent tumbling on the edge of the box, Lankester stepped up to send in a wonderful delivery which Smith met perfectly, to send the travelling fans wild high up in the stands.

United will aim to continue their positive recent momentum at the weekend when they host Peterborough, in the first league game between the two sides at the Abbey in over 20 years.

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