A crunch Sky Bet League One clash near the basement awaits on Tuesday evening as Cambridge United welcome Morecambe to the Abbey Stadium...
With five points now separating them from safety, it’s a key opportunity for the U’s to capitalise on their game in hand and go level with their Lancashire opponents, who have won once since late January and have recorded just the solitary victory on the road all season.
How to Watch
Tuesday evening’s rearranged clash kicks off at 7:45pm, with tickets available for fans to buy online at cufctickets.com.
Please secure your place in advance. By doing this, you can avoid disappointment and save money, as all prices increase by £2 when buying in-person on the day of the game.
A modern-day success story, the Shrimps’ recent history has seen them punch above their weight and thrive in a division packed with giants. Under the tutelage of Derek Adams, the Lancashire outfit have gone from League Two relegation battlers to a very optimistic, and now acclimatised, League One group, who are just 11 points away from securing their best-ever finish.
Early form certainly suggested that an improvement on 19th could be a big ask after their opening day stalemate against Shrewsbury Town was followed up by a 3-0 defeat at Peterborough United, where they slumped into the relegation zone and would remain for another 23 matchdays. From their opening eight games, they attained four points, before grabbing the breakthrough in mid-September when Farrend Rawson’s last-gasp strike earned a first win as Forest Green Rovers were put to the sword – to date, it’s their only success on the road.
A three-match losing streak followed, although they did enjoy a run of just two defeats in eight, albeit five were a share of the spoils. Narrow defeats to Plymouth Argyle and then Port Vale on Boxing Day put Adams’ men in a precarious situation, but they showcased remarkable adversity to turn on the gas and register three consecutive victories, scoring nine goals in the process. After a two-and-a-half week break, they were trounced by Ipswich Town but responded with a 5-1 battering of Bristol Rovers. In their seven matches since, they’ve won just once, but a stalemate against Bolton Wanderers last weekend puts them in 21st and just four points from 17th in a congested division.
Efficient in the loan market, and in crafting more of a no-nonsense side, Adams has ensured the 2022/23 version of Morecambe suit his 3-5-2, and most recently 4-2-3-1, system to a tee. Penalty king Connor Ripley has already established himself as a fan favourite between the sticks, whilst Rawson and Jacob Bedeau are complimenting each other well of late, keeping two clean sheets in three. In the centre of the park, mainstay Liam Gibson has been joined by promising loanee Liam Shaw, who plug away to provide for former U Jensen Weir, who has popped up with an impressive nine strikes– the trio are energetic and work in unison to break up play and spearhead attacks. January signing Daniel Crowley has excited the Shrimps’ faithful, his creativity could be crucial in the run-in, as could the goals of last season’s hero Cole Stockton, the focal point who will want to add to his three strikes in 2022/23.
Cambridge United: LWLLL
In their latest encounter, United were dealt with a bitter pill to swallow after Portsmouth edged out a slender 0-1 victory in CB5.
Despite dominating the afternoon’s clear-cut chances, the hosts arguably could have been home and dry by the hour mark, but were made to rue that killer instinct as the clinical Pompey secured all the points owing to Colby Bishop’s close-range header.
Agitated that his side were not rewarded for their endeavour, Mark Bonner said: “Statistically the win probability for us is 98%. Put the ball in the back of the net and that’s a winning performance for us… I thought out levels were really good and we’ve got to find that 12 more times if we can because that’s our only chance to turn those into the points and the wins that we need.”
With teams around them picking up points, the gap to being afloat has increased to five points from United’s position of 23rd. The game in hand is deemed by many as a crucial game to pick up a victory – by doing that, it’ll move the side up a place, put them on the verge of overtaking the Shrimps and hopefully galvanise the club going into the final stretch – which sees them play all five of the bottom six. An important evening awaits.
In regards to team news for Tuesday, Kai Yearn is “ready to go”, whilst Harrison Dunk and Knibbs are creeping closer to returning to the fold. For a further update, be sure to tune into Bonner’s full pre-match press conference via the Club's YouTube channel on Monday for all the build-up.
Cambridge United Wins: 10
Morecambe Wins: 8
Down Memory Lane
Last time out, the U’s garnered a 1-2 come-from-behind success in September’s entertaining clash at the Mazuma Stadium.
After falling behind to Weir’s first half goal, United persevered by carving out some pleasing pieces of play, getting their rewards with Jack Lankester’s leveller and Harvey Knibbs’ late winner to rise them to 7th in the league.
Speaking to the press after his side gained their first away victory of the campaign, the Head Coach said: “Overall, we played a really good game… I thought the contribution of everybody today was excellent. Winning games in this league is hard but we’ve made a decent start of that in the first ten games.”
Although fortunes have changed since then, the head-to-head continues to look extremely pleasing. On Tuesday, United look to make it a sixth consecutive success against the Shrimps and extend the unbeaten run to eight. Before that, the group from Lancashire were seen as a bogey team, with the U’s unable to overcome them on six separate occasions, scoring just twice in that time.
Referee: Paul Howard
Assistant Referee: Michael Webb
Assistant Referee: Paul Lister-Flynn
Fourth Official: Adrian Tranter