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Club News

Match Preview: U's vs Pompey

2 March 2023

Club News

Match Preview: U's vs Pompey

2 March 2023

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Cambridge United look to use the Abbey Stadium to their advantage when they take on Portsmouth in Saturday afternoon’s Sky Bet League One tussle...

Following back-to-back defeats on the road, Mark Bonner’s men will deem their home form a consolation and look to utilise that by gaining some points towards their survival ambitions. In their way, John Mousinho’s in-form Pompey side who are unbeaten in four and full of momentum after scoring seven goals in their previous two matches.

How to Watch

Saturday afternoon’s clash kicks off at 3pm and tickets available for fans to buy online at Another bumper CB5 crowd awaits, with seats in the Main Stand extremely limited and space in the Newmarket Road End and North Habbin filling up fast.

By securing your ticket well in advance, you’ll avoid disappointment and save money, as all prices increase by £2 when buying in-person on the day of the game.

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.

Opposition Focus

A renowned giant of the English game, Pompey make the journey from the coast with fire in their belly and optimism in the air following a spirited recent run, where the trusted XI look settled under the up-and-coming Mousinho. In his first managerial stint, he hopes to continue the two-time FA Cup winners’ steady incline over the years, as they sunk from the Premier League to the fourth tier in the space of three years, but are now working their way up and will want to ensure a sixth successive top 10 finish in League One.

A consistent start to the season rightly earned the visitors with a promotion-chasing tag as they went unbeaten in their opening nine clashes – in that run, they picked up a point apiece against Sheffield Wednesday with a 3-3 opening day thriller and a dramatic 2-2 draw against Plymouth Argyle. In between that, they won six on the bounce, notably dispatching the U’s 4-1 in the reverse. The form drastically switched from here – from October towards mid-January, they tasted maximum points on one occasion in their next 14, that coming away at Forest Green Rovers. In that time, they drew seven matches and were convincingly overpowered 3-0 to Charlton Athletic and Bolton Wanderers. A change in management allowed a momentum shift, where back-to-back successes against Exeter City and Fleetwood Town ignited a play-off push, but picking up the single point in their following three was a blow. Most recently, they’ve embarked on a four-game unbeaten run, keeping three consecutive clean sheets and securing their biggest romp of the season last week as Cheltenham Town were dismantled 4-0, before backing it up with late delirium against Bolton Wanderers in midweek to climb them to 10th.

Tinkering with their setup of late, the 4-4-2 and occasional 3-4-2-1 looks to be a thing of the past, with the recent implementation of the 4-3-3 proving fruitful. Loanee Matt Macey has immediately shored up the defence, the shot stopper has helped the clean sheets flow, with the promising Ryley Towler developing a great understanding with Sean Raggett. Connor Ogilvie remains a critical figure on the left and has an eye for goal, whilst Ryan Tunnicliffe and Joe Morrell are excellent midfielders for this level. In the final third, Irishman Ronan Curtis is rejuvenated and Colby Bishop is the main source of goals. With the talented Paddy Lane and Dane Scarlett utilised as impact outlets, the travellers look well-drilled and are enjoying their fortunes in front of goal.

Form Guide

Cambridge United: LLWLL

Portsmouth: LWDWW

United’s Approach

The U’s approach the Abbey encounter determined to persevere and keep plugging away for points after leaving Devon empty-handed last weekend following a fair 2-0 defeat to Exeter City.

Struggling to match the intensity of the mid-table hosts throughout spells, they were punished by Archie Collins’ well-taken header in the first half and Kevin McDonald’s long-range curler in the second and were made to dig deep to keep out a wave of attacks throughout.

Dissecting the performance, Bonner stated: “I was quite pleased with how we started, I thought we started both halves quite well and the goals have killed us… It’s a game too many in some respects but at the same time there was enough in the game, certainly early on and before the second goal, that we needed to make more from and not let the game run away from us.”

Although the form reads the solitary success since Boxing Day, United’s gap from safety is a mere two points and with 11 points separating 21st to 11th, there’s every chance teams can be dragged into a scrap as the season reaches its conclusion. Conjuring 21 points on home soil in comparison to eight on the road, it’s evident the U’s have been stronger when playing in front of their own. A seventh win in CB5 could very well rise them from the bottom four and kick-start an upwards trend.

Regarding team news, the Head Coach revealed in Thursday’s press conference that George Thomas will miss the remainder of the season with an ankle injury – as a result of this, Kai Yearn is set to be recalled from Chelmsford City. Elsewhere, Harvey Knibbs’ recovery has been strong, he could be back next week, whilst left-backs Steve Seddon and Harrison Dunk are in full training, so their returns are imminent.

On the task that awaits his group, Bonner said: “It’s set up for a bit of a grandstand finish, and it’s going to be there for someone to take it, so I want it to be us, and I want us to go and play like we’re chasing it. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”


Cambridge United Wins: 3

Portsmouth Wins: 15

Draws: 4

Down Memory Lane

The last time the outfits took to the field, Portsmouth secured a come-from-behind 4-1 success on a warm August evening thanks to a convincing second-half performance.

United fans were in bedlam on the half an hour mark when Joe Ironside converted at the near post to open the scoring on his 100th appearance, but Colby Bishop’s strike on the verge of the break gave the hosts the impetus to gain maximum points via Ronan Curtis, Michael Jacobs and Connor Ogilvie.

Analysing the defeat, Bonner stated: “I thought up until the 60th minute, we were great. From that point the game ran away from us because we didn’t stay in it in that first little period. For a large part of that game, that should never end 4-1, not in a million years.”

From 1983 to 2017, the U’s failed to beat the Blues in 16 attempts – drawing on two occasions. The first ever meeting at the Abbey, in March 1978, is still to this day the only league win when Steve Fallon’s faller helped ground out a 1-0 success.


Referee: Andrew Kitchen

Assistant Referee: Stephen Wade

Assistant Referee: Kevin Howick

Fourth Official: Stephen Finch

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