In-form Cambridge United’s next Sky Bet League One tie sees them do battle with play-off outsiders Wycombe Wanderers at the Abbey Stadium on Tuesday evening...
Having attained an applaudable 10 points from a possible 12, Mark Bonner’s men approach the penultimate home fixture of the campaign rejuvenated. Enjoying their best form of the season, the U’s look to stretch their unbeaten run to five games and potentially drag themselves out of the relegation zone.
How to Watch
Tuesday evening’s clash kicks off at 19:45pm, with tickets available for fans to buy online at cufctickets.com or over the phone by calling 01223 566500 (option 1).
With another healthy crowd expected, be sure to secure your place in advance. By doing this, you can avoid disappointment and save money, as all prices increase by £2 when buying in-person on the day of the game.
Founded in 1887, the visitors were an established non-league outfit for a century, before finally breaking through in the early 90s. Yet to look back, the decade so far has proven to be Wanderers’ most successful era as a football club, revelling in a season of Championship football most recently in 2020/21. The task for the popular Matt Bloomfield? To attempt to send them back one day.
Previously renowned for their rugged yet supremely effective approach under Gareth Ainsworth, the Chairboys are now adapting under Bloomfield, the versatile group switch systems by the game and are drilled to a tee.
Talented shot-stopper Max Stryjek is an exceptional pluck from Scotland’s first tier, with the indispensable Joe Jacobson and Jason McCarthy donning the flanks. Chris Forino-Joseph, a promising Saint-Lucia defender with an eye for goal, usually partners Jack Grimmer or the no-nonsense Ryan Tafazolli. Lewis Wing and Josh Scowen protect when needed with their tenacity, with the former popping up with 12 goal involvements. The experienced David Wheeler knows his way around the division, he supervises Gibraltar international Tjay De Barr and up-and-coming loanee Chem Campbell, whilst 25-year-old Brandon Hanlan adds energy, Garath McCleary the flair and the returning Sam Vokes the cutting edge in the final third.
Perhaps suffering from their Wembley woes, Wycombe’s introduction to the campaign lacked guile, with the side approaching October in 19th following six defeats and just three wins. From here, a hat-trick of victories was terminated by the U’s in the reverse, but the Chairboys would go on to lose just once in their following eight, attaining 15 points. A devastating start to 2023 saw the group claim six triumphs in seven and keeping five clean sheets in the process. However, mid-February proved to be the last time they registered back-to-back wins, with Easter Monday’s victory against Forest Green Rovers their only in the past half a dozen. Sitting in 8th with four promising games to go, the chase is on for Wanderers, who aim to take it to the very wire.
Cambridge United: LWWDW
Wycombe Wanderers: DDLWL
A memorably exhilarating afternoon last time out saw the U’s continue to fuel their new-found momentum as they dispatched local rivals Peterborough United 2-0 at the Abbey, handing United just the extra spark they need in their bid for a third season in the third tier.
Latching on to the electric atmosphere, the hosts drew first blood on the stroke of half-time - fittingly through United legend Harrison Dunk – who poked home from Conor McGrandles’ corner. Coming fast out of the blocks following the break, Sam Smith’s pin-point strike gave the group a two-goal advantage that they would handle with care, protecting the clean sheet thanks to two brilliant stops from Dimitar Mitov.
Full of pride after guiding the team to their first league win over Posh in 25 years, Bonner said: “It was a brilliant afternoon, a super atmosphere and the extra significance to everybody that has waited 20-odd years for the game here – to get the result, certainly having lost the one earlier in the season, it’s great to send everybody home happy.
"We've got five more games where we've got to find that again, there's no getting away from it. It's ours to chase, it's pressure on others that are about to play, but in the end, we've got to find that level five more times, and give ourselves a chance of taking it to the last week first of all, and then getting above the line and then staying above it.
"If we're going to stay in this league, and we want big occasions against big clubs, and all that it brings, we're going to have to keep fighting like that.”
Prior to April, it took the U’s 22 attempts to gain three league wins. Now, they’ve achieved that feat in just four clashes – and what a time to do it too. One of the form sides in the division, they climb to 21st with just goal difference separating them from safety. Two weeks ago, they were seven points adrift. The rapid surge, helped by a switch in formation, has given the whole club the belief they need to attack the final five and plot for the great escape.
Cambridge United Wins: 6
Wycombe Wanderers Wins: 15
Down Memory Lane
The U’s put in one of their most complete performances of the season back in late October when a 2-3 success was played out in the reverse fixture.
The thrilling evening began with an early Harvey Knibbs strike, but was soon cancelled out by Vokes’ close-range header. A sublime curling effort from Jack Lankester restored the lead heading into a tremendous second half, which saw the U’s add a third through Lloyd Jones and collect the points despite Wing’s late consolation. Going back to basics, they ticked every box at Adams Park in what felt like a real Bonner performance.
Revelling in the moment, the Head Coach stated: “They were absolutely brilliant tonight. The endeavour of the team was a brilliant reminder to us what we are and what good looks like for us – there’s a bar set.”
Prior, the Chairboys had been somewhat of a bogey team for the U’s, who had failed to beat them in the previous six encounters. Since their promotion to the Football League in 2014, the side in dark and light blue have picked up eight wins in 11.
The last victory in CB5 occurred in March 2016, when Josh Coulson’s deflected header – his last in amber – earned a resolute 1-0 win. On the evening, it moved the team to within three points of the play-offs, but they ultimately fell short under Shaun Derry.
Referee: Benjamin Speedie
Assistant Referee: Joseph Stokes
Assistant Referee: Nicholas Cooper
Fourth Official: Richie Watkins