Cambridge United are presented with the opportunity to secure back-to-back successes on the road as they travel to Morecambe in their next Sky Bet League One outing...
Mark Bonner’s men will look to preserve their placing in the top half of the table and return to winning ways in the division against a Shrimps side who, in spite of a testing start to the season, can take inspiration from their cup heroics and will no doubt be in high spirits after notching their first league victory last time out.
How to Watch
The clash in Lancashire kicks off at 3pm, with tickets priced at £25 for Adults, £20 for 65+ and £7 for Under 18s. To secure your place, purchase online at cufctickets.com - four away credits shall be issued.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a few years for supporters of Morecambe. From staring down the barrel to moving on up and battling it out with former giants of the first tier week by week. The integral engineer was no doubt manager Derek Adams who, after joining in November 2019, steered the side to safety before masterminding an unlikely promotion the following season. Although he did depart days after the play-off success, he returned in February 2022 and kept the team in League One with a respectable 19th place finish. In what is another demanding task, the sole aim is to show progression and consolidate once more, despite many critics believing they’ll suffer second season syndrome.
Languishing in 23rd with seven points to their name, it’s been a strenuous introduction to the campaign – but that’s not to say there hasn’t been promise. Funnily enough, the side are yet to lose back-to-back games, picking up a share of the spoils against Shrewsbury Town, Fleetwood Town, Oxford United and Bristol Rovers. Despite scoring in four of their nine clashes, 50% of that rate occurred last Saturday as Farrend Rawson’s last-gasp goal clinched a 1-2 win at Forest Green Rovers. Their cup exploits has been creditable too, Adams’ side have dispatched Everton U21’s and Hartlepool United on penalties in the EFL Trophy, whilst winning through the same feat against Stoke City before overcoming another Championship side in Rotherham United in the Carabao Cup.
The U’s can expect to face a committed side scrapping for every ball – a rapid start for the hosts could make things tricky for Bonner’s men. Rawson, Jacob Bedeau and Ryan Delaney compliment each other well as a back three, whilst bite and endurance in the middle of the park in Jake Taylor and former U Jensen Weir is a dream for talisman Cole Stockton, one of the standout strikers in the division last season as he plundered 26 goals. Three points would be vital to ease any early nerves for the Lancashire outfit.
Cambridge United: LWLLW
A thoroughly authoritative 0-2 success at lower-league Northampton Town in the Papa John’s Trophy last time out, thanks to Fejiri Okenabirhie’s clinical brace, has hopefully set the motion ahead of a busy Autumn schedule for the U’s.
With 16 members of the squad getting valuable minutes into the tank, it’s safe to say the boss has some exciting decisions to make going forward, with many staking their claim. Although they were pitted against a very youthful Cobblers team, you can only beat what’s put out ahead of you, and the visitors done that in style – the defensive pairing of Lloyd Jones and Zeno Ibsen Rossi didn’t hand their counterparts a sniff, whereas the aforementioned goalscorer, Saikou Janneh and Jack Lankester showcased endeavour and trickery at the other end of the pitch.
Reflecting on the win at Sixfields, First Team Coach Barry Corr summarised: “We’re really pleased that we’ve given ourselves a chance to progress to the next round… it’s always good to win football matches, it brings confidence.”
Whilst it is of course handy to shatter the winless rut on the road, particularly three days after losing their unbeaten run at the Abbey, the United faithful know they’re a threat whatever the venue.
Currently in the top ten, a win could very well plummet the U’s back into the play-offs. Week by week, the league table continues to take its shape – can this side remain a mainstay in this transition? Perhaps one talking point would be the negative goal difference - the pack have conceded the fifth most in the division, but a watertight performance and clean sheet on Tuesday is a solid foundation to build upon.
In regards to an update on the squad ahead of the journey up north, Assistant Head Coach Gary Waddock kept his fingers crossed that Brandon Haunstrup “won’t be out for too long,” whereas Greg Taylor’s recent exclusion has been down to managing his workload as he works his way back to full fitness.
Morecambe Wins: 8
Cambridge United Wins: 9
Down Memory Lane
Over the years, the U’s vs the Shrimps has had a tendency to become a very streaky fixture, the ‘bogey team’ label certainly comes to mind. Between 2016 to 2019, United didn’t taste victory once, with Saturday’s opponents keeping four consecutive clean sheets in that point. The script was soon flipped – now, Bonner’s side now arrive six unbeaten, winning all of their four previous matchups.
Last time out against the Shrimps, the Abbey faithful witnessed a clinical 2-1 success in April and the confirmation of another season in the third tier thanks to Sam Smith’s alert strike and Joe Ironside’s penalty.
Following what was a third win in four games, the Head Coach praised the attacking options at his disposal, stating, “I think him (Smith) and Joey are on really good numbers for goals, and I think Knibbsy will chip in and add to those. He is playing a real part in creating those chances. I’m really pleased for Joe and Sam, we know the strengths they’ve got.”
During the 2020/21 promotion-winning season, early signs of fruition were there when a Paul Mullin and Wes Hoolahan inspired side secured the double, but no doubt the most memorable victory occurred on a warm April evening in 2016 when United secured their biggest ever Football League win, dispatching the Lancashire outfit 7-0. Luke Berry and Harrison Dunk enjoyed braces that night, with Ben Williamson, Mark Roberts and Zeli Ismail also finding the net.
Referee: Robert Madden
Assistant Referee: Darren Williams
Assistant Referee: Steven Rushton
Fourth Official: Samuel Barrott