“Let’s go and have a go and see what we can do…”
Just like the rest of Cambridgeshire, Mark Bonner is chomping at the bit ahead of Cambridge United’s derby day encounter against Peterborough United on Saturday afternoon.
Since they last pitted their wits against the Posh in a league match, the U’s have suffered relegation twice, which resulted in administration, before securing two promotions to work their way back up the pyramid and secure enticing matchups like these.
The journey thus far has thrown up its heartache and jubilation, but the story is by no means complete. From standing in the Habbin to orchestrating from the dugout, the Head Coach is keen to pencil in another memory to the fast-growing collection of United folklore.
“It’s 21 years since we last played, our journeys couldn’t have been too much further apart than they have been in that period of time.”
Following wins against Ipswich Town and Wycombe Wanderers in the space of three games, the side are eager to accumulate more momentum. Frankly, there’s no better time or place to do that than at London Road.
“For us, it’s about going and playing a strong team and delivering a really good level of performance. That’s the fundamental thing.
“We’ll be very close to the same team that played on Tuesday, and the challenge for those players is to go and deliver that same sort of level again. It (2-3 win at Wycombe) was a top performance for us, and that’s what we will take tomorrow.”
On the contrary, the hosts will be just as fired up following a stern start that has cemented them in the play-off positions. In spite of that, Bonner states they should be wary of the threats the team in amber will pose.
“Obviously they’re one of the favourites for promotion, you can’t get away from that. They’ve talked about it enough themselves that that’s what they expect to be doing.
“They’ve been a high scoring team so far, so that will test our defensive organisation, but we believe there are things we can do that can hurt them as well, and it’s important that we bring that to the table.”
Ever since the fixtures were released in mid-June, the anticipation has grown by the week as the rekindling creeped closer. With a near sell-out expected, an atmosphere like no other will be brewing in preparation for 3pm. The excitement within the fanbase has clearly echoed towards the players.
“People talk about playing games, not occasions. I say play the occasion, that’s why we’re in it. You want to play in big games, games that matter, good atmospheres, and you want that to bring the best out of yourself.
“We know how tough a game it will be; we’ve got to be ready for a proper scrap and a proper game. It’ll be an epic atmosphere, and I’m absolutely buzzing, I can’t wait for it.
“Our lot (fans) will give as good as they get… hopefully that drives our players on to a really high level.”
As calm and as collected as you can get, the boss reiterates the main focus of the fixture – victory.
“It would mean three points, that’s the only fact. All the emotional stuff is for everybody else. We’ve just got to go and play the game, and hopefully we can get the result.
“If we do, I'll tell you what it means after.”