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19 August 2023 Venue Cledara 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 Bristol Rovers

17 August 2023

Cambridge United are presented with the chance to make instant amends in Sky Bet League One as the Abbey Stadium hosts Bristol Rovers this weekend...

Mark Bonner’s men endeavour to celebrate their 2000th league game with a third win from their opening four and shatter the Pirates’ promising start, which has seen them clock five points so far under Joey Barton’s tutelage.

How to Watch

Your phenomenal support means that CB5 looks set to be jam-packed for Saturday’s clash, which gets going at 3pm. Tickets are still available for fans to buy online at

The Newmarket Road End is rapidly approaching full capacity, as is the Main Stand – with only single tickets on offer. The Intelligent Membranes North and South terraces also has availability, but to avoid disappointment and a £2 increase on the day, please buy in advance.

For further updates regarding sales, make sure you keep your notifications on for the Ticket Office Twitter account.

Opposition Focus

Founded 150 years ago, Bristol Rovers saw in the 1900s as a Southern League outfit, but would go on to establish themselves as a resolute Division Two member throughout the 50s, 70s and 90s, which included a solitary season in the second tier in 1992/93, where they were relegated with the U’s. The three-time FA Cup quarter-finalists fluctuated from here, bouncing back from a slump to non-league to now embarking on their second season back in League One with increasingly high hopes.

Real dark horses thanks to excellent recruitment, Barton has implemented an expansive style of football. Deploying a familiar 4-4-2, they play aggressively and take the game to opponents with a front foot approach. In order to build on the foundations of a 17th-placed finish last time out, they’ve brought in experience to control matches and ensure consistent performance levels. Brentford loanee Matthew Cox should don the sticks, with an incredibly young backline ahead of him in the likes of Luca Hoole, Connor Taylor, Tristan Crama and Lewis Gordon. When fit, the no-nonsense James Wilson leads by example and adds real quality. In midfield, Grant Ward, Sam Finley and Antony Evans all add drive and a ball-carrying nature, with Scott Sinclair’s know-how and summer signing Luke Thomas’ tenacity already contributing to goals. Aaron Collins, the division’s Player of the Season last time out, is itching to get off the mark – he’s usually partnered by Jevani Brown or prolific threat John Marquis, with Ryan Loft waiting in the wings.

So far, so good for the Gas, with three strong sides yet to take anything from them. Defensive foundations were laid in pre-season – the team collected five clean sheets from seven, which included a 0-9 drubbing of Melksham Town and dispatching Brentford B and Swansea City away from home. 1-1 draws against promotion hopefuls Portsmouth and Barnsley were creditable, as was a last-gasp 1-2 victory away at Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night. In spite of defeat, they gave a great account of themselves at Championship high-flyers Ipswich Town in the Carabao Cup too. They’ll be optimistic of extending their unbeaten run to four league games on Saturday.

Form Guide

Cambridge United: LWLWL

Bristol Rovers: WDLDW

United’s Approach

The U’s slipped to their first defeat of the campaign last time out, as newcomers Stevenage picked up a valiant 1-2 triumph in CB5.

Going into the match full of confidence, the side started with real exuberance, but an early forced change shifted momentum as Boro drew first blood via Jordan Roberts. Slowly increasing the pressure, the hosts overpowered a dogged defence ten minutes from time as Elias Kachunga directed home from close range, but the killer sucker punch was dealt seconds later when Jamie Reid powered the decider from 25 yards.

Looking at the positives, the boss stated post-match that: “If tonight is a draw it’s probably the right result. It’s easy to say that when you’ve lost it but there was actually lots I quite liked about our performance and I think there’s lots we can learn as well.”

Early days, but plenty of heart to take from the U’s start – six points and five goals from three is a solid base to build from. In addition to that, should they record victory against Rovers, it’ll be their best start to a season since returning to the Football League.

Quick Quotes

Bonner on the Pirates: “There’s no question they’ll be fighting for play-off positions this year. I think they’ve built a good side, coached very well, they’ve got a very good way with the ball, very difficult to break down and counter-attack very well.”

Bonner on squad rotation: “The ability to make lots of changes isn’t there for us, so we’ll just need to try and freshen up the players over the next couple of days and hit a really good level.”

Bonner on transfers: “We’ll definitely look to add to the squad in those attacking areas and to cater for those players that are injured. We’re working hard on that now and we’ll see what we can do before the window shuts.”

Team News

The Head Coach confirmed on Thursday that they’ll need to check on Kachunga and Sullay Kaikai, who could make the squad. However, Jordan Cousins is likely to be out until October owing to a thigh problem and Saikou Janneh – who is awaiting the scan results from his hamstring injury – is expected to be out for “quite a long time.”


Cambridge United Wins: 7

Bristol Rovers Wins: 22

Draws: 8

Down Memory Lane

In our previous meeting, United tasted defeat in their first piece of Abbey action of 2023 after the Gas secured a come-from-behind 1-2 victory.

Despite a really spirited introduction, 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 Pirates’ attack broke through in rapid fashion thanks to finishes from Josh Coburn and Sinclair, before holding out for the success.

In response to the defeat, Bonner acknowledged: “We were everything we wanted to be in the first 20 minutes and within a five-minute period the game turned around… We’re at home against a side that leaves two or three up the pitch constantly and tries to separate you from defence to midfield and we didn’t do our jobs properly – we get punished for it.”

A bogey side to say the least, Rovers have essentially won 60% of the 37 ties between the clubs and currently boast a five-game winning streak. The last United win occurred back in October 2004 when John Turner’s second half finish secured the 1-0 triumph for the League Two outfit.


Referee: John Busby

Assistant Referee: Graham Kane

Assistant Referee: Michael Webb

Fourth Official: Jamie O’Connor

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Match Reports

Report: Cambridge United 2-0 Bristol Rovers

19 August 2023

Cambridge United claimed an instant return to winning ways in Sky Bet League One with a thoroughly deserved 2-0 victory against Bristol Rovers at the Abbey Stadium...

After knocking on the door throughout the encounter, the U’s finally broke through ten minutes from time when Fejiri Okenabirhie struck home a peach of a curler, before Sullay Kaikai opened his account in the dying embers to secure maximum points and mark their 1000th home league game on home soil by moving to the summit of the division.

Heading into the encounter, United looked to rectify their first defeat of the season by notching a third win from their opening four – a feat they had not achieved since 2013/14. By doing that, they would need to shatter the Pirates’ promising start, which had seen them clock five points so far under Joey Barton’s tutelage.

In response to the slender defeat against Stevenage four days earlier, Mark Bonner rotated his league XI for the first time in 2023/24, as an enforced change saw the injured Saikou Janneh make way for Elias Kachunga. In a welcome addition to the bench, Kaikai was deemed fit enough to make the squad for the first time since the curtain raiser.

Shooting towards the Newmarket Road End, the U’s conjured the first attempt of the afternoon within the opening minute when Jack Lankester dispossessed his man in the final third, worked his way into the box and squeezed a shot at Matthew Cox from a tight angle.

Just five minutes later, the midfielder turned provider when he picked up the ball and performed a teasing delivery to Elias Kachunga at the back post – the winger darted his header on target, but it was dealt well by Cox.

Controlling the game well and pressing with high intensity, United continued to pile on the pressure with some dangerous crosses into the box, with their pursuit of breaking the deadlock a strong one.

They received a let off on the 21st minute however, when a weak back pass fell to the hands of a lurking John Marquis in the six-yard box. The angle was a tricky one, but the forward still managed to compose himself and cross into the face of goal – which fortunately for the hosts evaded the men in blue.

On the eve of the half an hour mark, George Thomas was teed up from just under 30 yards and decided to test his luck, with Cox being right behind it and claiming by his left post.

All in all, it had been a half with little to shout about. Rovers had enjoyed their share of the possession, but were yet to test Jack Stevens between the sticks - with all seven attempts falling the way of the U’s.

It was a similar story following the break. Starting with Kachunga, the winger jinked his way into the middle and spreaded a ball towards Liam Bennett, via a dummy from James Brophy, with the full-back blazing over the crossbar from 20 yards.

A few minutes later, a superb passage of play down the left resulted in Kachunga invitingly drilling to Paul Digby, who picked his spot and pulled the trigger, which was crucially intercepted out for a corner.

Calm and collected when called upon, Stevens was forced into a critical stop on 68 when Archie Collins was freed in a one-on-one  position. Under immense pressure from Ryan Bennett behind him, he finally got his attempt away but the number one had already closed in to get his body on the line and claim.

The U’s clawed the breakthrough that they thoroughly deserved ten minutes from time when the tricky Kaikai set up fellow substitute Okenabirhie, who took a light touch and showed excellent footwork to create space and curl past a diving Cox from just outside of the area.

In response, the Pirates roamed forwards and almost carved out an instant equaliser through Lamare Bogarde, who rifled from the edge of the area and towards goal, which was valiantly denied by the reactions of Stevens.

Despite the late siege from Barton’s men, the boys in amber stayed committed to not just preserve their third win and third clean sheet of the season, but to notch a second. A blistering counter-attack resulted in Okenabirhie repaying the favour to Kaikai, who tapped home and kickstarted the sound of coconuts. Here’s to the next 1000!

Up next, it’s a trip to the capital next Saturday (26th August) as the U’s do battle with Leyton Orient in front of a sold-out away end.


Cambridge United: Stevens, L. Bennett, R. Bennett, Morrison, Andrew (Dunk, 72’) Digby, Thomas, Brophy, Lankester (Ibsen Rossi, 90+5’), Kachunga (Kaikai, 63’), Ahadme (Okenabirhie, 72’)

Subs Not Used: Holden, Okedina, Ibsen Rossi, Simper

Goalscorers: Okenabirhie (79’), Kaikai (90+5’)

Bookings: Morrison


Bristol Rovers: Cox, Hoole, Taylor, Crama, Gordon (Vale, 82’), Thomas, Ward, Evans (Sinclair, 60’), Finley (Bogarde, 82’), Collins (McCormick, 70’), Marquis (Loft, 60’)

Subs Not Used: Hall, Grant


Bookings: Taylor, Evans, Hoole


Referee: John Busby

Attendance: 6390 (811 away fans)

Man of the Match: Okenabirhie

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