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Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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21 February 2023 Venue Highbury Stadium Attendance

Kick off 19:45 (UK)

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

Match Preview: Cod Army vs U's

20 February 2023

Cambridge United look to register back-to-back Sky Bet League One victories for the first time since September on Tuesday evening as they make the mammoth trek to Fleetwood Town...

Boosted with a platform to build on following their recent return to winning ways, Mark Bonner’s men will look to climb out of the relegation zone and keep the optimism flowing against the Cod Army, who have picked up steam of late by going four unbeaten in all competitions.

How to Watch

The midweek match-up in Lancashire kicks off at 7:45pm on Tuesday 21st February. Should you wish to join the hardy U’s fans making the trip, you can purchase your tickets for the match from cufctickets.com or from Highbury on the evening of the game.

Please note, all previously bought tickets from the original December fixture remain valid.

Fans who are unable to make the game will be able to stream the game live with an iFollow Match Pass. Passes cost £10 and are available to purchase by clicking here. Alternatively, you can follow live match updates on the day through United’s social media channels.

Opposition Focus

Originally formed in 1908, our opponents were re-established in 1977 and were placed in the tenth tier of the English League system. A remarkable rise ensued as, in under a decade, the Cod Army secured six promotions to take them to the heady heights of League One, where they’ve since established themselves and even reached the play-offs in two separate occasions. Now under the tutelage of former Celtic warrior Scott Brown, the Lancashire outfits’ attempt to build on previous rankings of 15th and 20th look promising. In the process, they’ve created history by reaching the fifth round of the Emirates FA Cup for the first time, showcasing their ability to beat anyone on their day.

A rocky start saw newcomers Port Vale seal the points on the opening day, but dogged Town went unbeaten in their next eight matches. Although six of those were close-fought draws, they picked up impressive wins against Plymouth Argyle and Peterborough United. From here, they won one of their next six but flipped the script by losing the solitary time in the following half a dozen. From post-Christmas, the Lancashire outfit lost six from seven games – a 0-2 defeat to Portsmouth in late January was the only time this season where they’ve lost by more than one goal. Most recently, they’ve embarked on a three-match unbeaten run in the league, dispatching Charlton Athletic and Peterborough and picking up a point over the impressive Plymouth. Occupying 16th, Town have a seven-point gap from the bottom four and will look to increase that as they aim to register a fourth home win of the season.

Following an impressive transfer window, where Brown plucked up-and-coming talents, particularly from the Republic of Ireland, and added experience to the attack, the team in red look well-equipped to conclude the season on the front foot and potentially even extend their mazy cup run. 29-year-old Jay Lynch continues to don the sticks, three clean sheets in row means he’s in good form. Defensive rock Aristote Nsiala could be joined by the promising Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu and Harrison Holgate, who have all complemented each other well when deployed in the three at the back system. Corrie Ndaba and Shaun Rooney, who has tallied up eight goal involvements, are threatening on the flanks, with Everton loanee Lewis Warrington gaining valuable experience alongside Josh Vela. Blessed with options up top, signings Jayden Stockley and Adam Marriott know this division like the back of their hand and can supply the tricky Carlos Mendes, whose devastating runs cause a plethora of problems.

Form Guide

Fleetwood Town: LWWWD

Cambridge United: DDLLW

United’s Approach

Following a confidence-boosting 1-0 victory against Oxford United just a few days earlier, the U’s make the journey up north reinvigorated and ready to attack the final 15 games.

An early header from Lloyd Jones handed the U’s the impetus to dominate the first half of football, before seeing out the game in a professional manner to hand them a clean sheet and a first success since Boxing Day.

Reflecting on the valuable victory, Bonner said, "We needed it, we absolutely needed the win but I think more than that we needed that performance level because then people believe in us again a little bit… it gives us a little bit of a reminder of what it takes to win and a reminder of what we’re capable of doing, but also the recipe for the next 15 games."

With the eight-match winless run now behind them, the U’s are in a better place psychologically and hope the taste of three points can propel them further up the league. By repeating that feat on Tuesday, they will escape the bottom four for the first time in a month and, with five of the six teams around them still to play, United know if they can maintain that level in the remaining games, they’ll be backed to the very end.

Head-to-Head

Fleetwood Town Wins: 2

Cambridge United Wins: 2

Draws: 3

Down Memory Lane

The last time the sides met, the U’s concluded an unbeaten January thanks to a battling 1-1 draw at Highbury Stadium after Paddy Lane cancelled out Wes Hoolahan’s goal directly from a corner.

Reflecting on the share of the spoils, Bonner said, “I didn’t think there was loads of goalmouth action. I didn’t think there was loads of quality in the game and it was really hard-fought, a really tough game but an excellent point for us to complete a really good month.”

Travelling back in time to 2012, United pulled off a shock 2-0 victory against the Cod Army in CB5 when Jack Eades’ curler and Rory McAuley’s close-range poke forced an end to champions Fleetwood’s 29-match unbeaten run. That season, the visitors secured 103 points, with striker Jamie Vardy scoring a remarkable 31 goals.

Officials

Referee: Declan Bourne

Assistant Referee: Johnathon Bickerdike

Assistant Referee: Anthony Moore

Fourth Official: Simon Mather

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Match Reports

U's beaten at the death in Fleetwood

21 February 2023

Cambridge United were dealt a killer blow at the death as Fleetwood Town stole all three Sky Bet League One points with a 1-0 win at Highbury Stadium...

The U’s were forced to rue their well-worked missed opportunities as Shaun Rooney’s late close-range header separated the sides on what proved to be a gut-wrenching evening in Lancashire.

Spurred on by a first win of 2023 last time out, the U’s were eager to secure consecutive league victories for the first time since September and climb out of the relegation zone with the gap from 20th a solitary point prior. Six places above them were the Cod Army, who had started to pick up steam by collecting seven points from their previous three matches.

Head Coach Mark Bonner felt there no need to change a winning formula as he retained the same XI that returned to winning ways three days earlier against Oxford United. The only difference to the matchday squad was the absence of George Thomas, who did not travel owing to a knock he picked up in training.

The U’s early application to the encounter was a positive one. Their route into carving out the first opportunity of the evening was by finding space in the wings, with James Brophy and Liam Bennett finding the space to peg the hosts back.

The latter warmed the gloves of Jay Lynch on the 13th minute when the youngster danced from the right to cut inside, before pulling the trigger from under 25 yards which was comfortably collected by the goalkeeper.

All in all, it had been an organised and disciplined opening half an hour for United, who had not offered the powerful Cod Army attack a sniff at goal. Their aggressive nature to win the ball back was pleasing, but the only attempt they could conjure was Michael Morrison’s speculative shot from distance on 22, who connected well but couldn’t keep it down as it arrowed over the crossbar.

Bonner’s men passed the first real test of their defensive grit on the 31st minute when Rooney’s cross into the danger area eventually fell to Josh Vela, who from a tight angle aimed for goal but was denied by Lloyd Jones’ well-anticipated block.

A few minutes later, the experienced Jack Marriott tested his luck on the turn from 25 yards, lashing past the onrushing men in sky blue and Dimitar Mitov’s right post, who had it covered.

It proved the last action of an encouraging half from the U’s, who were neat and tidy in and out of possession, but were just lacking the end product. They were excellent value for their clean sheet, nonetheless, despite Scott Brown’s men ending in the ascendency.

Undoubtedly the golden chance fell to the hosts ten minutes into the second period when an in-swinging free-kick from Phoenix Patterson was flicked on by Brendan Wiredu and on a plate for Jayden Stockley, but the former U couldn’t direct his header home from a matter of yards.

Heavy pressure from the U’s on 57 almost proved fruitful when the ball twice fell to Sam Smith inside the box, but each time the forward was denied by a sea of red following excellent jinking runs down the left from Brophy and then Jack Lankester.

The ardent faithful in the away end were agonisingly close to celebrating the opener on the 68th minute when applaudable defending and a long ball from L. Bennett was held up by Joe Ironside – he presented Smith with the opportunity to pick out a splitting through ball to Lankester who raced towards goal in a one-on-one position and picked his spot but was denied by Lynch’s crucial stop.

With the clash approaching its latter stages, the Cod Army had since brought on five options to find a winner, but the visitors looked likeliest to steal the points. On 81, L. Bennett’s sublime cross was met by Smith who got venom on the header and almost enough accuracy as it clattered the post.

Three minutes later, heroic defending ensured the match remained goalless after a mix up in the defence from Conor McGrandles set Cian Hayes free with the goal gaping. His touch allowed a scampering Brophy to track back and superbly deny the goal bound attempt.

United were dealt a sucker punch on the 87th minute when substitute Josh Earl’s cross was latched at by Rooney who rose highest to power a header past Mitov.

With the last kick of the game, Jones raced to keep the ball in play from a long free-kick, teeing up Smith who fired wide from five yards to ensure the U’s would travel home empty-handed despite an improved attacking performance.

Up next, the U’s travel to the other side of country on Saturday (25th February) as they descend down to Devon ahead of their tie with Exeter City – be sure to back the boys.

 

Fleetwood Town: Lynch, Holgate, Nsiala (Earl, 70), Sarpong-Wiredu, Rooney, Vela, Warrington, Patterson (Dolan, 77), Marriott (Omochere, 59), Mendes Gomes (Macadam, 77), Stockley (Hayes, 70)

Subs Not Used: McMullan, Ndaba

Goalscorers: Rooney (87’)

Bookings: Mendes Gomes, Warrington, Vela

 

Cambridge United: Mitov, Morrison, R. Bennett, Jones, L. Bennett, Digby, McGrandles, Brophy, Lankester, Smith, Ironside

Subs Not Used: Mannion, Williams, Haunstrup, O’Neil, Okedina, Worman

Goalscorers:

Bookings: L. Bennett

 

Referee: Declan Bourne

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