Attention is now fully focused on Sky Bet League One for Cambridge United, who will aim to return to winning ways as they welcome basement side Fleetwood Town to the Cledara Abbey Stadium this weekend…
Coming into the encounter off the back of three consecutive defeats, the U’s plot an upturn in fortunes by making it a hat-trick of victories against the Cod Army this season, who are winless in 11 in all competitions and are desperate to get the ball rolling under Charlie Adam.
How to Watch
A bumper CB5 is expected for Saturday’s Foundation Matchday, which gets underway at 3pm. With the Mead Plant & Grab South Stand packed with home supporters, the side will be buoyed by all four sides of the ground.
Tickets will soon be sold out in the Buzz Catering Main Stand and NRE whilst the Intelligent Membranes North Habbin still has plenty of space remaining.
Buy your tickets online, over the phone on 01223 566500 (option 1) or by visiting the Cledara Abbey Stadium Ticket Office ahead of kick-off.
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 under Scott Brown. Now under a new former footballing cult hero cutting their coaching teeth in Adam - who replaced Lee Johnson in late December - the side need an immediate switch in form in their fight for survival.
Looking to set up in a 3-4-2-1 formation, Jay Lynch remains dependable between the sticks, with Josh Earl, Ben Heneghan and Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu hoping to add solidarity just ahead as they return to basics. Attack-minded Shaun Rooney and the exciting Phoenix Patterson create from out wide, whilst Celtic loanee Bosun Lawal and Callum Dolan protect and recycle to utility man Josh Vela or Junior Quitirna – who has popped up with six goal involvements in the league. Jack Marriott and Jayden Stockley provide a clinical edge and physicality in the final third and prolific winter signing Ronan Coughlan is awaiting his first start.
A turgid introduction to the campaign has seen Fleetwood 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. It proved to be brief, nonetheless, as the Cods have not won since mid-November, losing seven and drawing two of their previous nine matches, scoring on a mere four occasions. Rooted in 24th, they’ve shipped the most goals in the league and have an eight-point gap from safety which has opened up for the Lancashire group – who require inspiration in their battle to preserve their third tier status.
Cambridge United: WWLLL
Fleetwood Town: DDLLL
Neil Harris’ men were unable to pick up a scalp in the Emirates FA Cup last time out as Blackburn Rovers showcased their attacking prowess by battling back to claim a 5-2 triumph at Ewood Park.
Despite originally taking the lead on two separate occasions courtesy of Jack Lankester’s curler and Sullay Kaikai’s volley, a first-half hat-trick from Sammie Szmodics put the hosts in the ascendency, who dictated well to kill the game off thanks to Arnor Sigurdsson and Harry Leonard.
Reflecting on the loss, the Head Coach stated: “I thought for 46 minutes it was a really good game - everything we expected from Blackburn, they delivered. I’m delighted with the two goals we’ve scored, at 2-2 it looked a really good game… we just shot ourselves in the foot and need to be more resilient.”
As was always the case, the sole focus was on the bread and butter, with the visit of Fleetwood being a great opportunity to prevent a fourth consecutive loss in all competitions. Sitting in 19th with a four-point cushion from the drop, five of the U’s next six games see them take on 24th, 20th, 17th, 15th and 22nd, therefore a vital spell awaits, as they strive to break the 30-point mark as soon as possible and build from there.
Cambridge United Wins: 5
Fleetwood Town Wins: 3
Down Memory Lane
Memories are still fresh for both sets of fans after a cup clash just over a month ago at this weekend’s venue saw United steamroll to an expert 4-0 success against Town.
A scintillating opening 12 minutes saw the U’s race into a three-goal lead thanks to Danny Andrew’s free-kick and clinical strikes from Elias Kachunga and Fejiri Okenabirhie. The hosts remained fluid throughout the encounter and wrapped up the proceedings late on through Gassan Ahadme to secure their place in the famous velvet bag and pave the way for their strong early form under Harris, who would join shortly after.
Following a comfortable 0-2 success in the reverse fixture at Highbury Stadium, the task for United now is to make it a hat-trick for 2023/24 against an outfit who they’ve enjoyed real success against over the years, winning three on the spin and losing on just one occasion from seven since returning to the Football League.
Referee: Scott Tallis
Assistant Referee: James Vallance
Assistant Referee: Stuart Butler
Fourth Official: Daniel Bonneywell