Cambridge United look to secure a winning return to the Abbey Stadium as they take on promotion-chasing Ipswich Town in front of a bumper crowd on Saturday afternoon...
Going into the anticipated tie against their East Anglian rivals, the U’s have laid a great defensive foundation after they picked up their first point of 2023 following four consecutive defeats. Acknowledging their underdog approach, their resolve will be tested once more against Kieran McKenna’s men, who have plummeted the most in the division and remain hot on the trail of their title rivals.
How to Watch
Saturday afternoon’s clash kicks off at 3pm, with tickets available for fans to buy online at cufctickets.com.
A potential sell-out is expected, with sales extremely limited in the Main Stand, Newmarket Road End and North Habbin. To avoid disappointment, please secure your place well in advance as it is unlikely tickets will be available on the day.
Previous purchase history within the past two seasons is required and will be verified automatically through the online accounts of supporters at CUFCTickets.com. If buying in-store, fans will be required to bring proof of purchase or to help identify their online account history.
Overseas fans can stream the game live with an iFollow Match Pass. Match Passes cost £10 and are available to purchase by clicking here. Elsewhere, domestic supporters who can’t make it to the Abbey can listen to live match commentary on iFollow.
Oozing with rich history, Town are determined to recapture the glory days and make a rise up the Football League. Under the tutelage of the knowledgeable Kieran McKenna, they’re primed for their first real promotion charge since dipping down to the third tier for the first time since 1957, four years ago. The former FA Cup and UEFA Cup winners have seen their fortunes changed since the Northern Irishman entered the fray in December 2021 and are on course to better their previous rankings of 11th, 9th and 11th by some distance.
Getting off to a rampant start, Ipswich remained undefeated in their opening nine matches, registering 21 points and keeping five clean sheets, with 3-0 successes against MK Dons and Shrewsbury Town the pick of the bunch. Despite falling to a comeback defeat to title-chasing Plymouth Argyle, they responded with three victories on the bounce, scoring eight in the process. A 0-1 loss against Lincoln City, still their only defeat at Portman Road, hurt, but they proved strong in their next seven, going unbeaten with important successes against Derby County and Peterborough United in the middle of surrendering a dramatic 4-4 draw against Charlton Athletic.
Throughout the Christmas and New Year period, McKenna’s men won one in six, but bounced back last time out with a comprehensive 4-0 demolition of Morecambe. Still going strong in the FA Cup too, they took Burnley to a Fourth Round replay last weekend with a stern display. Plundering 53, the division’s top goalscorers maintain 3rd position, with four points separating them from both 2nd and 5th. In a league full of heavy hitters, Town will surely be fighting for something come May.
Boosted by a plethora of experience, solidity and firepower, Town are a versatile side who enjoy taking the game to their opponents whatever their formation – whether it be a 4-2-3-1 or a 3-4-2-1. Christian Walton, who last season set a club record for the length of time without the team conceding a goal, continues to be a mainstay – he’s kept ten clean sheets so far this campaign.
With many options at their disposal, the returning Harry Clarke could prove a real coup, whilst George Edmundson and Luke Woolfenden’s partnership at the back continues to blossom. The energetic Leif Davis has been a revelation in the wing-back role, with Sam Morsy and Lee Evans bossing proceedings in the middle with their distribution and ability to break up play. In the final third, new signings Nathan Broadhead and George Hirst were star performers in League One last season, whereas Conor Chaplin and Freddie Ladapo have combined for 28 goals in all competitions already.
Cambridge United: LLLLD
Ipswich Town: WDLWD
The U’s got back to basics last time out, chalking their first point of 2023 with a battle-hardened 0-0 draw against Lincoln City at the formidable Sincil Bank.
Limiting their opponents to very little with their stubborn approach, United were great value for a point apiece and can use the performance as something to build upon.
Satisfied with the response his side showed and the foundations laid, Bonner stated, “We needed to take something from the game, make ourselves hard to beat and play against so we’re pleased with the clean sheet. That’s more like us, that’s better. It’s a starting point for what we need for the next 19 games.”
With the January transfer window now shut, the U’s will feel they have enough in the tank to get to where they want to be. Five signings containing plenty of 'know-how', the returns of the influential Dimitar Mitov and Lloyd Jones and the fresh dimension that Fejiri Okenabirhie offers means they approach the new month with a much stronger squad. Opting for a three at the back approach, United looked more watertight and extremely organised. Continuing in that manner and showing a clinical edge to their game is the task now.
Due to teams around them winning some crunch clashes, the team have dropped to 23rd, although the table remains extremely congested. One of four teams on 25 points, and just four points from 17th, a first win since Boxing Day could immediately flip the switch.
In regards to team news for the weekend, a similar squad is expected. However, George Thomas is still nursing a hamstring injury and won’t be available for the time-being.
Cambridge United Wins: 4
Ipswich Town Wins: 3
Down Memory Lane
Last time the sides did battle, the U’s came out on top as they secured a hard-earned 1-0 victory at this weekend’s venue in October’s Papa John’s Trophy tie.
An early red card for Kyle Edwards handed United an advantage they would capitalise on late in the second half as Lewis Simper rifled home his first goal in amber and black.
Bonner’s comments on that evening may also speak true as a form of motivation for Saturday, declaring, “We’ve got to make sure we approach the game at the weekend with the same sort of energy and optimism as if we’re on a seven-game winning streak and see if we can get a result.”
Heading into just the 10th meeting between the sides, the hosts boast the upper hand. In the five previous head-to-heads at CB5, United have lost just once, that coming in the second leg of a League Cup Second Round tie in October 1993 as the Tractor Boys ran out 4-1 winners on aggregate.
Referee: Sam Barrott
Assistant Referee: Samuel Ogles
Assistant Referee: Joseph Stokes
Fourth Official: Conor Farrell