Cambridge United divert their attention back to Sky Bet League One as they welcome Ian Evatt’s Bolton Wanderers to the Abbey Stadium on Saturday afternoon...
After three successive clashes on the road, it’s a welcome return to CB5 – where Mark Bonner’s men will look to use it to their advantage by adding more goals to their game and return to winning ways against the well-oiled Trotters.
How to Watch
Saturday afternoon’s clash at CB5 kicks off at 3pm, with tickets still available for fans to buy online at cufctickets.com or over the phone by calling 01223 566500 - another healthy home crowd is anticipated.
Save money by purchasing your tickets in advance of the fixture, 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.
Formed in 1874, the four-time FA Cup winners have had a topsy-turvy couple of decades recently – experiencing the highs of a UEFA Cup run to sliding to the pits of the fourth tier. Since the appointment of Ian Evatt in July 2020, the Trotters’ faithful have been accustomed to an impressive incline, which has consisted of one promotion and a season of real stabilisation. The aim of playing Championship football for the first time since 2019 looms closer.
Starting as they meant to go on, the Trotters tallied up a respectable eight points in their opening four matches - conceding the solitary goal en-route to dispatching Wycombe Wanderers and Morecambe and sharing the spoils with Ipswich Town and Port Vale. Strong starters Sheffield Wednesday and Plymouth Argyle picked up victories by two goals, but this kick-started a four-game winning streak and confirmed a sixth clean sheet from their opening ten games.
Gloucestershire outfits Cheltenham Town and Forest Green Rovers put Evatt’s side to the sword next, but they responded with a stern stalemate against Barnsley and comeback triumphs at Accrington Stanley and on home soil versus Burton Albion. Although they’ve lost to Oxford United and crashed out of the FA Cup since, they sit in a healthy 6th with the least goals conceded in the division. The task now – to stay there.
With a really settled side at his disposal, who have really taken to his stubborn formations. Despite his tender age, James Trafford is already experienced at League One level – he’s kept an impressive seven clean sheets already on top of some match-winning saves. The returning Jack Iredale and Liverpool loanee Conor Bradley implement real energy from the full-back slots, whereas Ricardo Santos and Michael Williams are mainstays. In the forward ranks, Oladapo Afolayan and Dion Charles have proved themselves already and will be hungry to add more goals to this season’s tally.
Cambridge United: WLWLD
Bolton Wanderers: WWWLL
Last time out, United were forced into a stalemate away at National League North outfit Curzon Ashton in Sunday’s FA Cup First Round tie.
The U’s undoubtedly improved as the game progressed – they had their chances to secure their passage, but to their credit so did the Nash, with both goalkeepers staying firm throughout. Ultimately, Bonner’s men kept their name in the competition thanks to a defensively sound performance. The task now, to add goals.
Speaking after the game in Greater Manchester, the Head Coach stated, "We’ve got to score more, it’s obvious. Players have got to find that level and I’ve got to get it out of them. At the moment we’re not doing that and we haven’t made the most of the situations we had."
In what is contrasting reading from the start of the season, the U’s have lost their last four games on home soil – failing to score in each occasion. Although the overall recent record shows six losses in seven, United should, and will, take heart from the recent league meetings against Wycombe Wanderers and Peterborough United. Sitting in 18th, just four points separate the group from 9th – in a tightly-contested division, matters can change in a heartbeat.
Regarding team news for the weekend, Liam O’Neil (ankle) may still potentially be ruled out, whereas George Williams (shoulder) could be close to a return. Elsewhere, Fejiri Okenabirhie, Dimitar Mitov and Adam May remain the long-term injuries. The Head Coach will address the media on Friday to give a further update on who is available for selection.
Cambridge United Wins: 4
Bolton Wanderers Wins: 7
Down Memory Lane
Enjoying two mirroring recent seasons, each side enjoyed victories on their home turf during the 2021/22 campaign. Most recently in February, Afolayan inspired the Trotters to a fourth win in a row as they cruised to a 2-0 win, whereas in August 2021 Shilow Tracey’s early strike was enough to see out the visitors, who threw the kitchen sink at the U’s but couldn’t pass a dogged defence.
Speaking on that summer afternoon, Bonner said, "We played a really good side there, and the patience of the team and supporters to not just want to go and press and chase everything all the time was excellent. I’m really pleased with the outcome."
Digging into the archives, arguably the most memorable meeting, for all the wrong reasons, came in January 2000 when Sam Allardyce’s Bolton travelled to a sold-out Abbey in the Fifth Round of the FA Cup. Trevor Benjamin put the Second Division side ahead, before shortly after racing towards goal in a one-on-one position, only to be illegally brought down by the last man – to the U’s faithful’s disbelief, a free-kick the other way was shown instead of a blatant red card. The Trotters recuperated, flowing to a 1-3 win and making the hosts wonder what could have been.
Referee: Darren Drysdale
Assistant Referee: Declan O’Shea
Assistant Referee: Steve Finch
Fourth Official: Scott Jackson