Three precious Sky Bet League One points are up for grabs on Saturday afternoon as Cambridge United look to reward their home faithful when Oxford United make the journey to the Abbey Stadium...
Back-to-back defeats have hampered the U’s of late, forcing them to rue the missed opportunities of climbing up the league. Remaining in 23rd, with three points separating them from safety, they’re still very much in with a shout of escaping, but need to ignite that fire and ensure their point return arrives in a more consistent fashion.
How to Watch
Saturday afternoon’s clash kicks off at 3pm, with tickets available for fans to buy online at cufctickets.com. The Abbey have welcomed over 5,000 fans in all of their league encounters so far this season, so thank you for your continued support.
By securing your ticket well in advance, you can avoid disappointment and also save money as all prices increase by £2 when buying in-person on the day of the game.
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.
This weekend’s visitors make the trip to CB5 desperate to change their fortunes by putting to an end a discouraging run. The U’s, who have recorded four consecutive top-half finishes, including two near-misses in the play-offs, look to continue that correlation under the tutelage of Karl Robinson – who is approaching his fifth year in charge of the side. The former League Cup winners, who last appeared in the second tier in 1999, have high aspirations to soon return, but for now look to find some consistency to their game and rise up the ladder.
A testing start to the campaign saw the visitors lose three of their opening four games in slender fashion, with Derby County, Bristol Rovers and Lincoln City winning by one. Their one victory came in the reverse fixture when starlet Tyler Goodrham secured the last-gasp 1-0 success. Picking up steam, they picked up seven points from their next three, dispatching Cheltenham Town and Burton Albion thanks to Cameron Brannagan’s exploits. Unable to find the consistency, Robinson and co won just once in their next six, that being a 2-4 thriller at Exeter City either side of four defeats. However, they then embarked on an eight-game unbeaten run, dispatching Bolton Wanderers 1-3 and Port Vale 4-0 – their first clean sheet in over three months – and securing five 1-1 ties. From Boxing Day onwards, they recorded nine points from a possible 15, with a late 2-1 triumph over Ipswich Town just under a month ago proving their last win. A 1-3 defeat to leaders Plymouth Argyle in midweek consigned the U’s to a fifth defeat in six, scoring just three goals throughout. Languishing in 16th, they’ll deem today an excellent time to register a second away win since October and get the ball rolling.
Sticking with their four at the back approach, 33-year-old Simon Eastwood should don the sticks – he’ll be eager to add to the three clean sheets he’s kept this season. Ahead of him, versatile figures Ciaron Brown and long-serving Sam Long are steady performers, with the formers’ long-throw usually utilised as a secret weapon. A penetrative midfield three packed with grit and quality on the ball consists of star man Cameron Brannagan, who has popped up with 11 strikes, former Barcelona youngster Marcus McGuane and promising Leeds United loanee Lewis Bate. In the attacking ranks, youngsters Tyler Goodrham and Kyle Joseph have little fear, they could be the spark as they look to learn from experienced heads Yanic Wildschut, Josh Murphy and Sam Baldock. An impressive squad on paper, the U’s have a spine to hurt anyone and will certainly keep Cambridge on their toes.
Cambridge United: LDDLL
Oxford United: LLLDL
United will be desperate to showcase a strong reaction from their 1-2 midweek defeat to Cheltenham Town.
On an evening where recording points on the table would have bridged the gap from their rivals, the hosts couldn’t capitalise on their momentum after Joe Ironside’s penalty immediately cancelled out Elliot Bonds’. Contrastingly, the Robins improved as the game progressed, finishing in the ascendency and taking maximum points through James Olayinka.
Giving an honest assessment on the missed opportunity, Bonner admitted: "It was definitely one to win and not to lose. Look at all the other results tonight, they've gone the way that we'd have wanted them to. If we don't win games and do better, it doesn't matter. My apology is that we're doing as we are. We haven't backed up enough good performances, we haven't looked a good enough threat.”
Analysing their overall form, the U’s are now winless in eight, with their Boxing Day victory over Shrewsbury Town the solitary success in 14. Although worrying, their gap from second bottom to safety is three points – and with 48 points to play for, a quick shift in momentum could aid their charge.
In regards to team news for the weekend, the Head Coach revealed that Fejiri Okenabirhie will miss the remainder of the season owing to a hamstring injury, whilst ankle damage has sidelined Harvey Knibbs for roughly six weeks.
Cambridge United Wins: 11
Oxford United Wins: 14
Down Memory Lane
The Kassam hosted the U’s first away journey of the 2022/23 campaign over six months ago, but it proved to be a cruel conclusion when Goodrham dealt Bonner’s men a sucker punch in the dying embers to seal the 1-0 victory.
After their defensive grit and perseverance was almost rewarded with a third successive clean sheet, the dejected Head Coach stated: “I’ve just said to the players – 126 games I’ve been their coach and that’s the most unjust result we’ve taken part in.”
Cambridge have struggled to break down Oxford in recent league encounters, losing four and drawing two of their previous six. The last success, which occurred at this weekend’s venue in October 2014, saw the U’s come from behind to batter the fellow city 5-1 in front of the Sky Sports cameras. A remarkable quickfire brace from Kwesi Appiah, alongside strikes from Ryan Donaldson, Tom Elliott and Robbie Simpson, sealed a memorable victory.
Referee: Ollie Yates
Assistant Referee: Daniel Cook
Assistant Referee: Nicholas Cooper
Fourth Official: Andy Bennett