Attention turns to the Emirates FA Cup this weekend as Cambridge United look to dispatch fellow Sky Bet League One outfit Fleetwood Town at the Abbey Stadium and book their place in the Third Round for the second time in the past three seasons…
A new era dawns in CB5, with the U’s hoping to get the ball rolling under Interim Head Coach Barry Corr and march on in the competition after previously edging out Bracknell Town. The Cod Army make the long trek down the country having showcased great character to prevent a potential shock at Kidderminster Harriers in the First Round.
How to Watch
Tickets are still available for Saturday’s cup clash, which gets underway at 3pm. At a reduced rate, a seat in the Buzz Catering Supplies Main Stand is £15 for Adults and £12 for Concessions, whilst terracing in the Newmarket Road End or Intelligent Membranes Habbin is priced at £12 and £10 Concessions – for either, Under 18s are admitted for £5.
Please note, season tickets are not valid for FA Cup fixtures. Holders can secure their place online at cufctickets.com, over the phone by calling 01223 566500 (option 1) or by visiting the Abbey Stadium Ticket Office on the day.
Originally formed in 1908, the Cods went through three separate reformations, with the most recent incarnation occurring in 1997, 12 years after they finished runners-up in the FA Vase. Placed in the ninth tier of English football, seven campaigns equated to the solitary league success, but a meteoric decade from 2004/05 onwards saw them gain six promotions to take them to the heady heights that is step three. More than established, they’ve remarkably reached the League One play-offs on two occasions since, with recent respective finishes of 15th and 20th being enhanced by last season’s showing of 13th. Now under the tutelage of Lee Johnson following Scott Brown’s September dismissal, the only way is hopefully up for the ambitious Lancashire outfit.
Installing a compact 4-3-3 system, Johnson can rely on dependable Jay Lynch between the sticks, with a familiar backline of attack-minded Shaun Rooney, Josh Earl’s physical prowess, Ben Heneghan and Celtic loanee Bosun Lawal. Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu is the midfield destroyer, with Scott Robertson, utility man Josh Vela or 27-year-old Ryan Broom either side. An enticing front three usually consists of the creative Danny Mayor, powerhouse and clinical options in Jayden Stockley and Jack Marriott and the exciting Phoenix Patterson darting down the flanks.
A turgid introduction to the campaign has seen Town occupy a relegation spot ever since mid-August after responding to an opening day share of the spoils with Carlisle United by crashing to six defeats on the bounce, scoring just twice in that time. Form improved from here, with a 1-1 tie against Burton Albion with a first win swiftly followed by another as Leyton Orient and Cheltenham Town were dispatched. Wycombe Wanderers and Lincoln City dampened momentum as they secured three points away from home, but a commendable four-match unbeaten run – which included taking points from Barnsley and Blackpool – meant a corner was turned. Most recently, convincing 3-0 losses to Stevenage and Wigan Athletic ensures Johnson’s men sit in in 21st with a two-point gap from safety.
Cambridge United: WWLLL
Fleetwood Town: WWWLL
The U’s succumbed to a third successive defeat in Sky Bet League One on Tuesday evening as Lincoln City powered to a comfortable 0-3 success.
A bright start from the visiting Imps saw them draw first blood through Daniel Mandroiu’s penalty, before Dylan Duffy doubled the advantaged shortly after the half an hour mark. Despite enjoying the possession, the hosts were unable to muster a response to the setback and fell victim to a third late on when substitute Jack Vale made sure of maximum points.
It signalled the end of ara under Mark Bonner - who had galvanised club ever since taking the reins in 2020 – on the night he stated: “It’s really obvious, we want to win more games, score more goals and concede less. It’s all a concern, but nothing that can’t be fixed, if everybody shows up, rolls their sleeves up and has a little bit of a belief in themselves that they can do it.”
It was the first time since early March that the U’s have suffered a trio of losses, but a brief break from the third tier could do them good as they look to return to basics and develop some momentum by booking their place in the famous velvet bag.
Cambridge United Wins: 4
Fleetwood Town Wins: 3
Down Memory Lane
The U’s continued their positive form against the Cod Army just under four months ago as they tasted victory in their first away outing of the 2023/24 season thanks to a sublime 0-2 win in Lancashire.
No-nonsense in the defence and blistering in attack, a complete performance on a sunny August afternoon was capped off by Paul Digby’s close-range strike and Gassan Ahadme’s header in the six-yard box as they maintained their 100% start.
Since returning to the Football League, United have lost just once in six matches and are hoping to make it three successive wins on Saturday. The sides have previous in this competition, meeting at the same venue back in 2014, with Richard Money’s men claiming a 1-0 First Round scalp thanks to Kwesi Appiah’s fine first-time finish ten minutes from time.
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge
Assistant Referee: Daniel Bonneywell
Assistant Referee: Stephen Brown
Fourth Official: Farai Hallam