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07 January 2023 Venue Abbey Stadium Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

Match Preview: U's vs The Gas

5 January 2023

The Abbey Stadium hosts its first Sky Bet League One encounter of 2023 on Saturday afternoon as Cambridge United welcome newcomers to the division, Bristol Rovers...

In the midst of a dogfight near the relegation zone, it’s another crucial game for Mark Bonner’s men - who have won one in eight, but have recently shown encouraging signs on home soil. In Joey Barton’s Pirates, they host a top-half side who have proven an exciting watch and are out to register back-to-back wins.

How to Watch

Saturday afternoon’s clash kicks off at 3pm, with tickets available for fans to buy online at – another healthy home crowd is anticipated, with the Main Stand in particular selling quick, so please secure your place in advance.

By doing this, you can 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.

Opposition Focus

Formed in 1883, Rovers became members of the Football League in the 1920s and, bar one campaign, have not looked back since. The three-time FA Cup quarter-finalists have fluctuated since the turn of the millennium, but have a tendency to bounce back from setbacks – four promotions have been won since 2006/07, including back-to-back triumphs in 2015 and 2016. In their sixth season in League one in seven years, they’re understandably familiar with their surroundings and have already proven that this is where they belong.

Under the guidance of Barton, a demanding figure who gets the best out of his players, they needed a bit of time to build up steam, enduring a tricky opening couple of months. They did respond from an opening day defeat to Forest Green Rovers by dispatching Burton Albion 0-4 and Oxford United 1-0.

They would have to wait just under two months for their next victory, losing five of their next eight but nicking a point against Shrewsbury Town, Morecambe and Exeter City. A clinical 2-1 success against the U’s in October kickstarted an impressive five-match unbeaten run, which included a share of the spoils with strong-starters Plymouth Argyle and Sheffield Wednesday.

Since November, Rovers have lost two in eight, attaining 14 points in the process. Last time out, they bounced back from successive Christmas defeats by overcoming Cheltenham Town 2-1 at the Mem. The side have proven an exciting watch – their 25 games has dished up 82 goals overall and they are lodged in an impressive 11th, with six points separating them from the play-offs.

After previously stating that no player’s position in the squad is safe going into the January transfer window, the Pirates’ XI may look rather different come the end of the month, with Barton striving to always improve. Striker Aaron Collins is undoubtedly the anomaly, he’s popped up with 13 goals and ten assists in his opening 25 and is linking up well with promising loanee Josh Coburn, who’s bagged eight for himself.

Well-known Scott Sinclair boasts a plethora of experience and quality, the fans will be hoping his current deal, which runs out imminently, is extended. In a very youthful three-man defence, Burnley loanee Bobby Thomas has popped up with goals and been stubborn, with midfielder Sam Finley protecting well and the progressive James Belshaw making a strong transition to this level between the sticks.

Form Guide

Cambridge United: LDWLL

Bristol Rovers: WWLLW

United’s Approach

The U’s approach the meeting off the back of a 5-0 defeat against title-chasing Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough – the group know an instant response will be invaluable.

Starting on the front foot and concluding in control, the Owls cruised to the win thanks to a hat-trick from Josh Windass and further finishes from Michael Smith and Liam Palmer. A demanding place to visit, one loss in 13, and against a team who have lost once since mid-September, a strenuous 90 minutes was always going to be in store – the depleted side struggled to keep pace and were restricted to very few chances.

Reflecting on the afternoon, Bonner admitted, “It was horrible for everybody to play, watch and to be part of, because you just know that it was just a mismatch really… we didn’t have enough physically to cope with them. They’re incredibly strong, I think stronger than last year physically very dominant and athletic.”

Holding onto 19th position, the gap reads two points from the relegation zone and now just four from the basement following recent back-to-back wins for Burton Albion and Morecambe. Successive losses have dented United’s goal difference, which is worsened only by Forest Green Rovers. Nonetheless, five points separates 13th to their current position, so there’s all to play for in the dogfight.

Playing at the Abbey may put the U’s in good stead – they’ve lost once in their previous four, picking up five points in that time and putting in some really gritty performances against Bolton Wanderers, Plymouth Argyle and Shrewsbury Town. In truth, they had deserved more from the two stalemates picked up. The backing of the amber army will be integral in the coming weeks.

In terms of team news for the weekend, George Williams was back in training following an illness, whereas Ben Worman has made good recovery from his ankle injury - both could be options for selection, with the former looking more likely to return. Elsewhere, Fejiri Okenabirhie and Brandon Haunstrup are stepping up their rehab, the end of the month is a potential return date. The pair are ahead of Dimitar Mitov and Liam O’Neil, who the boss couldn’t give an exact date on yet, although hoped it was in the February region.

Regarding the transfer market, Mark admitted that potential signings ahead of Saturday is unlikely, but the U’s are adamant to add to the squad early next week.


Cambridge United Wins: 7

Bristol Rovers Wins: 21

Draws: 8

Down Memory Lane

Last time out, the U’s fell to a 2-1 victory against an out-of-form Rovers in early October to extend their losing streak to three games and hand the Gas their first win in nine attempts.

The hosts capitalised on a bright start, forcing an own goal, but the U’s equalised through Joe Ironside’s penalty and had the momentum on their side, but they couldn’t take their chances and were undone by Josh Coburn’s winner.

Analysing the defeat, United’s Head Coach mentioned: “You’d have definitely taken 1-1 going into the break after the first 20 minutes, but after 90 minutes to come away losing is a kick in the wotsits.”

Unable to take anything from the Pirates in their last four meetings, the U’s are out to secure a first victory since October 2004 when a League Two matchup in CB5 was decided by 18-year-old John Turner’s finish moments into the second period. The line-up that day: Ruddy, Gleeson, Goodhind, Duncan, Tann, Nichols, Walker, Mbome, El Kholti, Turner, Chillingworth.


Referee: Thomas Parsons

Assistant Referee: Ian Smedley

Assistant Referee: Scott Williams

Fourth Official: Leigh Crowhurst

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Match Reports

U's beaten by Rovers

7 January 2023

Cambridge United were made to wait for their first Sky Bet League One points of 2023 after Bristol Rovers came from behind to secure a 1-2 victory at the Abbey Stadium...

Despite a really spirited opening 20 minutes, where the U’s dominated proceedings and found themselves a goal to the good courtesy of Sam Smith’s well-executed header, they couldn’t go from strength to strength as the potent Gas attack broke through in rapid fashion thanks to finishes from Josh Coburn and Scott Sinclair, before holding out for the success.

In the midst of a dogfight near the relegation zone, it was another crucial game for Mark Bonner’s men - who had won one in eight, but had recently shown encouraging signs on home soil, losing one in four. In Joey Barton’s Pirates, they hosted a top-half side who had proven an exciting watch and were out to register back-to-back wins.

Following the heavy 5-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday five days earlier, Mark Bonner rotated his squad by naming four changes to his XI. In a switch of full-backs, George Williams returned from illness whilst Steve Seddon made his debut for the club. Elsewhere, Ben Worman recovered from his knock and Shilow Tracey was drafted into the wings.

In a blistering introduction to the encounter, the U’s drew first blood in the 4th minute when Harvey Knibbs’ teasing cross down the right floated to a looming Smith at the back post who, in slow motion, executed a pinpoint header against the post and in. For just the second time this season, United had scored within the opening quarter of an hour.

In an industrious mood, the hosts continued to maraud forward. Minutes after their celebrations concluded, Tracey finished a neat passing move by unleashing a drilled attempt which James Connolly importantly blocked. In the following corner, Worman’s astute delivery was met by the inspired Smith whose bullet header was expertly tipped over the crossbar by James Belshaw.

Out of the blocks firing, the U’s tenacity helped them continue to win every ball, with Worman’s crosses proving deadly and the attempts coming at a consistent pace.

Against the run of play, the Pirates carved open Bonner’s men and drew level on the 21st minute after dangerous duo Aaron Collins and Coburn linked up. After the former played in the Middlesbrough loanee, he had plenty of time in a one-on-one position to compose himself and pick his spot – although Will Mannion denied him at first, the number 40 tapped in the rebound.

The U’s positive start was soon undone as Rovers completed the quickfire comeback on 28. Coburn’s exquisite ball was met by Luca Hoole deep down the right, who fed Sinclair with an inch-perfect ball at the back post - the former Premier League man made no mistake, latching home from close range.

In response, the men in amber were presented with a promising opportunity on the 36th minute when the ball fell invitingly to Tracey on the outskirts of the box, but he skewed it wide of goal.

Deep into additional time for the first half, Oxford loanee Seddon was forced off on a stretcher after taking a blow to the head whilst he and Mannion dealt with a lurking Collins – with the full-back receiving a round of applause from all four sections of the ground.

Four minutes after the break, Smith was found in acres of space from 12 yards after being teed up, but the Gas dug in to block the attempt and clear their lines.

Undoubtedly the golden chance of the half fell to the hands of Smith on 62 when Liam Bennett ventured forward and dissected the backline with a pass to James Brophy, who raced down the left and delivered towards the number 10, who connected well on the half-volley but skimmed the crossbar.

Needing a route back into the game, Bonner added the impetus of Joe Ironside and Jack Lankester with 20 minutes left on the clock. During this spell, they were enjoying the possession in the final third but were yet to create anything clear-cut to test Belshaw.

A teasing corner on 79 almost proved a killer with the towering Coburn rising highest from a matter of yards, but it evaded the striker and fell out of play.

The hosts strived to steal at least a point from the encounter, but Joey Barton’s side remained stubborn to succumb United to three consecutive defeats.

Action at the Abbey continues next Saturday (14th January) as Morecambe make the journey down from Lancashire in yet another crucial Sky Bet League One matchup – be sure to back the boys.


Cambridge United: Mannion, Williams, Taylor, Okedina, Seddon (Bennett, 45+5), Digby, Worman, Tracey (Lankester, 70), Knibbs (Ironside, 70), Brophy, Smith

Subs Not Used: Holden, Janneh, Simper, Yearn

Goalscorers: Smith (4)

Bookings: Seddon, Digby, Lankester


Bristol Rovers: Belshaw, Hoole, Connolly, Thomas, Gibbons, Finley, Coutts, Sinclair (Gordon, 79), Collins (Evans, 79), Loft (Marquis, 64), Coburn

Subs Not Used: Jaakkola, Saunders, McCormick, Whelan

Goalscorers: Coburn (21), Sinclair (28)

Bookings: Connolly, Loft, Coutts, Marquis


Referee: Thomas Parsons

Attendance: 5703 (764 away fans)

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