Cambridge United look to mark their return to Sky Bet League One action by registering back-to-back victories as they make the trip up to Fleetwood Town on Saturday...
Mark Bonner’s men are hunting a strong start to the season by ramping up the momentum and winning their first two league games - a feat they haven’t yet achieved since returning to the third tier. In their way, a Cod Army side with similar ambitions who are eager to get up and running in front of their own faithful.
How to Watch
Approximately 400 fans have already secured their place for this weekend’s match-up in Lancashire, which gets under way at 3pm. Supporters who wish to join us can purchase their tickets from cufctickets.com or over the phone by calling 01223 566500.
Since their most recent incarnation in 1997, Fleetwood Town have gone on a meteoric rise which has seen them win six promotion to go from the ninth tier of English football to League One.
What you see is what you get with a Scott Brown side – dogged determination, powerhouse figures and a never-say-die attitude. Obtaining familiar surroundings, the core of the squad from 2022/23 remains, with the inclusion of exciting Irish forward Ryan Graydon, wide man Ryan Broom and creative plug Danny Mayor, who arrives off the back of a title-winning campaign.
Influential between the sticks, Jay Lynch is an excellent shot stopper, whilst Toto Nsiala and Josh Earl are calm in possession and no pushovers. Experienced head Josh Vela continues to pull the strings, joined by marauder Shaun Rooney to his right, with the exciting Phoenix Patterson growing by the minute. Complimenting the youth talent is nippy poacher Jack Marriott and battering ram Jayden Stockley. A good blend is at their disposal – can they improve on a recent ranking of 13th?
In preparation for the main event, the Fishermen played a wide array of opponents and were downed four times in their opening five – but a 1-5 thrashing of Waterford in between was a highlight. Concluding strong, they shared stalemates with Blackburn Rovers and Preston North End, before Promise Omochere scored the winner against Grimsby Town two weeks ago. In their opening game, Brendan Wiredu’s thunderbolt rescued a point against newcomers Carlisle United, before they bowed out of the Carabao Cup in midweek after Port Vale fought back for a 3-2 triumph.
Fleetwood Town: DDWDL
Cambridge United: WWLWL
Just as they did last season, the U’s are eager to lay some early foundations in the division and showcase their intentions to kick on. Following the accumulation of 13 points from a possible 21 last time around, matching a similar vein of form is the aspiration for the squad - who aim to keep it going for longer this time around.
Although they did taste defeat in the Carabao Cup in midweek, precious minutes were handed out as the fitness grows and the hunger increases for those staking a claim. Despite taking the lead twice through livewire Fejiri Okenabirhie, League Two outfit Sutton United pegged the visitors back before prevailing in penalties.
Not too downbeat by the result, the Head Coach said, “It’s a really successful night for getting good minutes into some that didn’t play Saturday… That Wembley dream is over this year but we’ll get ourselves ready now for a big week in the next seven days."
Bonner on Fleetwood: “Over the last few windows, they’ve added really well. They have a real clear plan of what they want and how they want to play… We’ve had some close good games with them. They’re playing some really good football, got great counter-attacking options and a lot going for them for sure.”
Bonner on the options in his team: “At the minute, we’re pleased with the squad we’ve built, we need to make sure we can keep everyone fit over the next few months and really attack the season in a similar vein to how we went about last weekend.”
Bonner on away form: “This weekend creates a completely different scenario being away from home, but we want to get off to a good start away as well. We know last year overall wasn’t enough positive results on the road… we need to build a platform to start from.”
Other than the long-term injuries, the boss is hopeful every member is fit and ready for selection. A couple of players - who earned their first spell on the pitch on Tuesday following a reduced pre-season schedule - will be checked, whilst Sullay Kaikai will be assessed after being absent from the last matchday squad due to injury.
Fleetwood Town Wins: 3
Cambridge United Wins: 3
Down Memory Lane
Our most recent meeting against the Cod Army will live long in the memories of the tale of 2022/23, as the U’s breathed life into their survival pursuit with a 2-1 victory on Good Friday.
A lightning introduction to the encounter saw Jack Lankester curl home a beauty, before Sam Smith sent Jay Lynch the wrong way with a penalty on the half an hour mark. Junior Quitirna ensured a nervy finish, but the hosts had the cajónes to hold on to secure back-to-back wins for the first time since September.
Optimistic that the great escape could be on, Bonner said to the press post-match: “I think there is a group of players there that understands the situation and they’re playing like they’re desperate to do well, and not only desperate to do well, they got the balance right today between physical intensity but quality as well.”
Former non-league foes, the sides have met just five times as a Football League club, with the men in amber losing just once. They are, on the contrary, winless at Highbury in four attempts – they’ve shared the spoils on two occasions and most recently lost there in February 2023.
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge
Assistant Referee: Conor Brown
Assistant Referee: Paul Newhouse
Fourth Official: Richard Woodward