The final clash at the Abbey Stadium in 2022 sees Cambridge United take on top-half Shrewsbury Town in their latest Sky Bet League One outing...
Over two weeks since they were last in action, the sides have had plenty of preparation to help craft the perfect Christmas present – three points. Mark Bonner’s men are out to gain their first victory since October and build on an encouraging draw last time out, whilst Salop arrive off the back of three successive wins.
How to Watch
Monday afternoon’s Boxing Day clash kicks off at 3pm, with tickets available for fans to buy online from cufctickets.com. A bumper home crowd is anticipated, with the Main Stand and the Newmarket Road End expected to sell out, so please secure your place well in advance.
By doing this, you can also save money as all prices increase by £2 when buying in-person on the day of the game.
Regarded by many as dark horses of the division, well-oiled Shrewsbury continue to prove a tough nut to crack under the tutelage of the experienced Steve Cotterill – who knows a thing or two about League One. Building up momentum following a three-match winning streak, the visitors are out to ensure that their eighth consecutive season in the third tier conjures up a second top-half finish.
Biding their time in building up steam, the Shrews scored just the solitary goal from their opening five games, accumulating five points in that time. Gradually progressing, they took a point from Bristol Rovers and dispatched fellow newcomers Forest Green and Exeter City in dramatic fashion. In their following five, maximum points were grabbed against Burton Albion, MK Dons and Fleetwood, before succumbing to a six-match winless run. In truth, they had all been hard-fought encounters, which included a 1-1 share of the spoils with Portsmouth and Oxford United, giving them confidence to register back-to-back wins last time out at home to Lincoln City and Bolton Wanderers respectively, where they secured a last-gasp win to garner momentum. Occupying 11th, Salop are five points from the coveted top six, but just three from 16th. A congested table, but one they’re more than holding their own in and are certainly looking up rather than down.
Taking pride from a dogged defence full of no-nonsense characters, who also pose a threat in the attacking areas, the imposing Chey Dunkley and former Everton man Matthew Pennington offer security, whilst summer signing Jordan Shipley has impressed down the left flank – contributing to seven goal involvements in 20. Captain, and left-back-turned-midfielder, Luke Leahy is as important to the group as ever, with last season’s Player of the Season breaking up play and engineering attacks impeccably from the middle of the park.
Cambridge United: LLLLD
Shrewsbury Town: LLWWW
16 days ago, the U’s pushed table-topping Plymouth Argyle to a goalless draw at the Abbey Stadium and ever since, they’ve been eager to build on a creditable performance.
From the first minute to the last, the hosts were defensively resilient, forcing the Pilgrims to very few opportunities, whilst carving out the more dangerous opportunities, but couldn’t beat an alert Michael Cooper and capitalise on some well-crafted movements.
Following the clash, Bonner stated, “We always want to win games of course, but it’s important that we put together some point-scoring days.”
In their proposed last tie before Christmas, the U’s made the trip up to Fleetwood Town, but frustratingly the game was postponed - meaning a further week of rest, but also the chance to implement more work on the training pitch ahead of three games in the space of eight days.
Sitting in 20th position, United are the solitary point ahead of the relegation pack, but do boast a game in hand over a couple of their rivals.
For team news and all the latest updates ahead of Monday’s game, be sure to listen to Bonner’s pre-match press conference on Friday.
Cambridge United Wins: 14
Shrewsbury Town Wins: 11
Down Memory Lane
A stalemate was played out in March of this year as 5651 fans flocked to the Abbey to witness a battle-hardened performance, particularly in the closing stages, as Bonner’s men secured an 11th league clean sheet of the season. Nevertheless, it was a different story five months earlier as Ryan Bowman’s hat-trick downed 10-man United, who couldn’t spark a comeback despite a Jack Iredale stunner.
The U’s have won one of their last seven vs the Shrews - that success came in the Football League Trophy in 2016 when Joe Pigott’s 20th minute strike separated the teams on a warm August evening.
The last victory at the Abbey, however, was in 2004 as Dan Chillingworth struck moments after half-time to hand Herve Renard’s group their first three points of what would prove to be a challenging campaign.
Referee: Sam Allison
Assistant Referee: Abbas Khan
Assistant Referee: Michael George
Fourth Official: Marc Wilson