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04 September 2023 Venue Cledara Abbey Stadium Attendance

Kick off 20:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League One

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Match Previews

Match Preview: U's vs Reading

2 September 2023

Cambridge United are determined to put on a show in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Monday night when Reading visit the Abbey Stadium...

Back on the television for the first time since April 2022, the U’s have enjoyed a strong start to the Sky Bet League One season thanks to three wins from five. However, just like the newly-relegated Royals, they’re staking a claim to make an instant return to winning ways.

How to Watch

Monday evening’s clash, which gets underway at 8pm, is expected to be played in front of yet another near-capacity crowd – with tickts in the Newmarket Road End and Main Stand scarce. The Intelligent Membranes North and South Habbin currently have capacity, but please buy in advance.

Be sure to keep your notifications on for the Ticket Office Account on Twitter for all of the latest updates regarding sales.

As stated, this clash has been selected for live viewing on the Sky Sports Football channel – coverage from CB5 starts at 7:45pm.

Alternatively, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire will be on hand to provide full match commentary.

Opposition Focus

Formed during the festive period of 1871, the visitors gradually built up steam towards 1895, where they turned professional and would go on to enjoy 22 seasons in the Southern League and gain some FA Cup exploits in the process. After gaining election to the Football League in 1920, the club have not looked back since. Predominantly a Third Division outfit throughout the course of their history, a record-breaking 106 points in 2005/06 saw them storm to the Championship title, before finishing a remarkable 8th in their first ever season in the Premier League. Returning for just a sole season since (2012), the Royals 10-year stay in the second tier came to an end last time out. Now, the only way is back up.

Under the tutelage of Rubén Sellés, who briefly cut his coaching teeth with Southampton last season, the faithful have an energetic and hungry squad at their disposal, who are desperate to showcase their talents. Following some big-name departures, a total of 12 have entered the fray in Berkshire to add depth and overall conclude a solid summer considering the pre-season uncertainties. Experienced David Button orchestrates an extremely youthful defence ahead of him, which includes the likes of Nelson Abbey, Amadou Mbengue and now Clinton Mola. A plethora of enticing talents in the middle, Sam Hutchinson does the dirty work to free up Charlie Savage, with former U Harvey Knibbs and Femi Azeez supplying ammunition down the wings. With Sam Smith ruled out with injury, the frontline could contain new loanee Dom Ballard and the well-rounded Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan – the 20-year-old is beaming with confidence after bagging five goals so far this campaign.

Going into what felt like the unknown after a long stay in the upper echelons of the pyramid, Reading required time to gel after falling to slender defeats to Peterborough United and Port Vale, but bounced back with two successive wins and clean sheets at home to Cheltenham Town and Stevenage. Now, they’ll be eager to respond from last weekend’s last-gasp 2-1 defeat at Exeter City and register their first away league win of the calendar year. Prior to Saturday, Sellés’ men sat in 16th due to a one-point deduction and may take heart from their midweek showing in the Carabao Cup, where an average age of 20 narrowly lost to Ipswich Town on penalties. Although there’s a lack of know-how, the promise, exuberance and little fear of this group makes them for a tricky test of resolve.

Form Guide

Cambridge United: LWLWL

Reading: LWWLL

United’s Approach

After being knocked off the summit last time out, United now aspire to climb once more after Leyton Orient secured a spirited 2-0 win last weekend.

The O’s piled immense pressure from the get go and were tricky to contain throughout large stretches of a match which conjured up a storm both on and off the pitch. Shaq Forde’s first-half strike handed momentum, before Theo Archibald slotted home from a one-on-one position to consign the U’s to their second loss from five.

Speaking after the whistle, Mark Bonner admitted: “We’ve got to be much better than we were today because that wasn’t a good enough level for us. It wasn’t consistent with what we’ve been delivering so far, but credit also goes to them, they made it like that.”

Hoping to rekindle the attacking threat that was evident in their previous five games – where they scored nine altogether - United moved fast by snapping up Crystal Palace loanee John-Kymani Gordon on deadline day to complete the squad to attack the next block of fixtures, which sees them take on four very former Championship outfits.  

Quick Quotes

Bonner on making an impression in front of the cameras: “We want to show ourselves, as a club and a team, in a really bright light. We know that Reading are probably more the pull than we are for the TV audiences, but at the same time we want to make sure that any time we get in the spotlight we show ourselves in the right light.”

Bonner on the Royals: “We know they’ve got a young squad with very, very talented young players and a super athletic team… They’ve got a changed style under the new manager and it might take a bit of time, but I think what we’ve seen so far is some excellent performances and results and then with young players, sometimes it creates that little bit of inconsistency. That’s fairly normal and natural.”

Team News

The Head Coach stated that no knocks were picked up following the game at Orient, with Elias Kachunga primed to return to the matchday squad after missing out owing to personal reasons. Elsewhere, long term absentees Adam May and Mamadou Jobe are now involved in heavy training sessions and are progressing well, but Jordan Cousins is not yet back on the grass and remains out for some time.


Cambridge United Wins: 9

Reading Wins: 10

Draws: 6

Down Memory Lane

The sides have met on 25 different occasions throughout their history, with the Royals winning 10, the U’s proving victorious nine times and with six draws played out.

Due to being four divisions apart as recently as 2013, this is the first time we’ve crossed paths since September 2002, when 2,696 fans watched United claim a 3-1 success in the First Round of the League Cup at the Abbey. Andy Duncan, the popular Dave Kitson and Shane Tudor bagged the hosts’ goals, with World Cup goalscorer Matt Upson supplying the consolation.

From six attempts, it remains the only win against Reading since the turn of the millennium, but on the contrary it did stretch their unbeaten run on home soil to four games, with the visitors last gaining three points in Cambridgeshire back in 1994.


Referee: Darren Drysdale

Assistant Referee: Stuart Butler

Assistant Referee: Jacob Lehane

Fourth Official: Christopher Pollard

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Match Reports

Match Report: Cambridge United 1-0 Reading

4 September 2023

Cambridge United made a real statement in front of the cameras as they clinched a commendable 1-0 victory against Sky Bet League One opponents Reading at the Abbey Stadium...

The U’s piled on the pressure from the get go and built on a positive first half by gaining a deserved winner late in the night through substitute Fejiri Okenabirhie, who thundered home his fourth strike of the season to rise his side into the top six.

Going through the gears on a scorching Monday evening, impressions were ready to be made and a real buzz was in the air for United - who aimed for a third home victory from their opening four. The newly-relegated visitors, in the third tier for the first time since 2002, were similarly out to make an instant return to winning ways.

Following their defeat in the capital nine days earlier, Mark Bonner named one change to his XI as an enforced swap between the sticks saw Jack Stevens – who had picked up a groin injury – make way for the returning Will Mannion. Elsewhere, Elias Kachunga was restored to the matchday squad, with deadline day signing John-Kymani Gordon also making the bench.

With just 35 seconds on the clock, the hosts came agonisingly close to drawing first blood when Sullay Kaikai skinned his man down the left and picked out an excellent cross to Gassan Ahadme inside the six-yard box, who powered a header but was astutely denied by David Button to prevent it from trickling in.

Authoritative and rapid in turning defence to attack, a floating delivery from Liam Bennett was touched down by James Brophy, with the winger jinking and cutting inside before teeing up Danny Andrew, who blazed a 25-yard effort over the crossbar.

The Royals conjured their first attempt of the night on the 9th minute when the silky Ben Elliott carried into the final third and set up young striker Caylon Vickers, who pulled the trigger with pace but a good U’s block forced a corner.

Heading into the midway stage of the first half, the tenacity petered out with very little chances of note. Despite Reading finding slightly more of the ball, United were ultimately unthreatened and knew that could play into their hands.

Turning the screw, Ruben Selles’ men were left to rue a potential opener on the half an hour mark when valiant, last-ditch defending from the U’s saw them deny a total of four attempts inside the penalty area, before clearing the scramble.

Amplifying the levels, it was Bonner’s side who were next to apply the pressure with two chances in rapid succession. First, the ball fell invitingly to L. Bennett from 20 yards out, whose clean and vicious strike was bravely headed behind, before Andrew’s cross couldn’t be tucked in by George Thomas from a matter of yards – the slightest of connections and first blood would have been drawn.

Remaining in the ascendency, a frenetic opening 45 was concluded when Paul Digby helped recycle and switch towards Brophy down the right, who danced into the box, composed himself and drilled just wide of Button’s left post. The U’s headed down the tunnel for the break with so much to be encouraged about.

After a brief period of pressure from the Berkshire side, Cambridge gained their foothold again and were presented with a golden opportunity on 56 when L. Bennett kickstarted an attack, Brophy did the marauding forwards and Digby with the finishing touches by squeezing into a tight angle and unleashing a near-post strike which was stopped by a diving Button.

Ten minutes later, Harlee Dean met Charlie Savage’s cross with a thunderous header, which flew just over Mannion’s bar, before Kelvin Ehibhatiomhan picked his spot from 20 yards and produced a curler which crucially skimmed away for a corner.

Seconds after entering the field as part of a triple substitution, Okenabirhie almost made an instant impact as he was released through on goal. In a one-on-one position, captain Nelson Abbey got a pivotal tackle in before clearing his lines.

Fejiri made the most of his second chance on the 83rd minute when livewire Brophy scampered down the right and picked out the energetic forward who blasted into the roof of the net from six yards to cue pandemonium in front of the Newmarket Road End.

With a matter of seconds left, former U Harvey Knibbs thought he had secured a last-gasp point after his close-range effort lashed against the crossbar and bounced on the line, but referee Darren Drysdale blew his whistle to the delight of the anxious home faithful.

Ultimately, it was a lead the U’s would go on to preserve, as their commitment helped them climb into the play-offs and rubber stamp their fine early season credentials.

Attention now turns to the Papa John’s Trophy next Tuesday evening (12th September) as the U’s take on Cambridgeshire rivals Peterborough United in the first Group D South clash.

Cambridge United: Mannion, L. Bennett, R. Bennett, Morrison, Andrew, Digby, Thomas, Brophy, Lankester (Kachunga, 71’), Kaikai (Gordon, 72’), Ahadme (Okenabirhie, 72’)

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

Goalscorers: Okenabirhie (83’)

Bookings: Morrison

Reading: Button, Mbengue (Mola, 79’), Dean, Abbey, Carson (Yiadom, 57’), Azeez (Rushesha, 81’), Savage (Craig, 79’), Elliott (Ehibhatiomhan, 57’), Hutchinson, Knibbs, Vickers

Subs Not Used: Boyce-Clarke, McIntyre


Bookings: Dean, Hutchinson, Yiadom, Savage

Referee: Darren Drysdale

Attendance: 6789 (1151 away fans)

Man of the Match: L. Bennett

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