Cambridge United are out to inflict a first Sky Bet League One defeat of the season at Sincil Bank for Lincoln City this weekend as Mark Bonner’s men aim to get up and running in 2023...
After enduring four successive defeats, the U’s are one point from safety and the onus is on them to return to winning ways and make a climb up the table. On Saturday the task at hand is a 16-placed Imps side, who are winless in seven, but are the only unbeaten side on home soil in the division, who remarkably have drawn 10 of their 12 encounters in Lincolnshire.
How to Watch
Roughly 600 U’s fans have already secured their place in the Stacey West Stand for Saturday’s encounter in Lincolnshire, which kicks off at 3pm. Supporters who wish to join us can buy their tickets for the match online at cufctickets.com, over the phone by calling 01223 566500 or on the day with cash only. One away credit will be allocated for this fixture.
Overseas fans can stream the game live with an iFollow Match Pass. Match Passes cost £10 and are available to purchase by clicking here. Elsewhere, domestic supporters who can’t make it to the Abbey can listen to live match commentary on iFollow.
Founded in 1884, City have enjoyed a remarkable recent rise, consisting of several well-documented cup exploits, but appear to be in a current spell of stabilisation under the passionate Mark Kennedy. In his first season at the helm, patience has been key, but the Imps have got excellent defensive resolve and their never-say-die mentality gives them a foundation to evolve heading into the latter stages of the season. Quite literally impossible to beat on home soil, Lincoln are eager to secure first win of 2023 sooner rather than later.
The division’s draw specialists kick-started the season by sharing the spoils with Exeter City, Portsmouth and Forest Green Rovers before registering their first win away at Oxford United. It would be their sole victory in seven, however, as Peterborough United and the U’s picked up comfortable wins at home. Contrastingly, they lost just one of their next seven, battling to four clean sheets as well as scoring six past Bristol Rovers in a thriller. Since the end of October, City have won once, drawn six and lost four, allocating them to 16th position – six points from the bottom four and in need of preventing freefall. Impressively, the Imps haven’t lost in their opening 12 league games at Sincil Bank, although they have only won twice, the joint-lowest in the division.
Although Head Coach Kennedy has admitted the opening three weeks of the transfer window has been quiet, he’s certain that a storm of late activity awaits, not just for his side but the whole division ahead of Tuesday’s deadline. 21-year-old full-back Harry Boyes has entered the building however - the Sheffield United loanee adds creativity to the left flank, whilst Regan Poole is a reliable figure on the other side. Alongside the imposing Paudie O’Connor and Adam Jackson, and with Carl Rushworth between the sticks, they’ve kept a total of seven clean sheets and have been extremely resilient. In the attacking front, Sunderland loanee Jack Diamond and Ben House have popped up with six goals each and Daniel Mandroiu, plucked from Shamrock Rovers, has attained four goal involvements in his opening 11 appearances.
Lincoln City: DDLLD
Cambridge United: WLLLL
Following a difficult afternoon in Shropshire last weekend, where United were comfortably dispatched 5-1 by Shrewsbury Town, they know the perfect retaliation would consist of three points.
Buoyed by the inspired Luke Leahy, who contributed to four of the strikes, the Shrews were three goals to the good going into the hour mark. Joe Ironside’s header on 70 proved a brief consolation as the hosts continued to prove rampant throughout.
Conceding his frustration with the performance, Bonner was under no illusions with the situation, saying, "A poor result, a poor afternoon and another one to add to a bad run of results. We’ve got to sharpen up and do a heck of a lot better because at the minute, the reality is we’re in an absolute fight now and we’ve got 20 games to do it. Hopefully everybody is up for that."
With midweek results falling in their favour, the U’s retain the position of 22nd with the solitary point separating them from 19th. Four successive defeats and the second-worst goal difference means form is shaky, but with 60 points still to play for, they’re determined to fight for every last one.
In regards to team news, Dimitar Mitov is back in training and is very close to being available for selection. Also making good progress is Lloyd Jones and Brandon Haunstrup, who both are now training. Elsewhere, Harrison Dunk and Liam O’Neil are a few weeks from returning.
Lincoln City Wins: 15
Cambridge United Wins: 14
Down Memory Lane
The reverse fixture saw United put in one of their most pleasing performances of the season back in September – retaining their 100% record at the Abbey Stadium after comfortably seeing out a 2-0 win following Ironside’s quickfire brace.
Praising the victory on that day, Bonner pin-pointed, “We’ve spent quite a lot of time recently talking about momentum in games and taking the game when it’s there for us. We got in off some really good attacking situations, and we took the game in a five minute period where I thought we were very ruthless in our attacking play.”
Four months on, the task is to replicate that performance and secure the double.
For U’s fans, the most synonymous meeting with Lincoln City is of course from the 15th August 1970, where the sides played out a 1-1 draw at CB5 in what was the hosts’ first ever Football League match.
The last time they tasted defeat in LN5 was during the back end of the 2013/14 promotion-winning campaign when Ben Tomlinson’s penalty sunk Richard Money’s men in front of 2,535 fans. It was the second of four successive defeats heading into the play-offs – the rest, as they say, is history.
Referee: Peter Wright
Assistant Referee: Stephen Wade
Assistant Referee: Richard Wigglesworth
Fourth Official: Wayne Grunnill