The Pirelli Stadium hosts Cambridge United’s final journey of the 2022/23 Sky Bet League One season on Wednesday evening as they strive to dispatch Burton Albion and take one step closer towards safety...
Four significant wins from the last seven games has ensured that the U’s are in the charge of their own destiny, with the chance to escape from the bottom four for the first time since mid-January on offer. Like the Brewers, the visitors aim to conclude the campaign in style.
How to Watch
Well over 1,200 U’s fans have already secured their place for Wednesday’s encounter in East Staffordshire, which kicks off at 7:45pm.
Supporters who wish to join us can buy their tickets online at cufctickets.com or over the phone by calling 01223 566500. Fans who buy their tickets from this point forward should collect from Burton on the day - one away credit will be allocated for this fixture.
Founded in 1950, the former non-league outfit rose through the ranks within the decades and have not looked back since reaching the Football League in 2009. Famously, they spent a couple of years in the Championship as recently as five years ago. With a sixth season in the third now confirmed after churning out results consistently under galvaniser Maamria, they look to end the season strong by exceeding back-to-back rankings of 16th and lay the foundations to surprise again.
Considering the side spent just the solitary week outside of the relegation zone up to late January, the turnaround has been an applaudable feat. In their opening eight games, the Brewers suffered seven defeats, picking up just one point in their 4-4 thriller with Accrington Stanley. Two victories in three, 0-2 at Exeter City and 3-2 against Forest Green Rovers, helped fortunes, before they enjoyed a three-game unbeaten streak during October. Following a 4-2 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday in the eve of that month, they registered four consecutive draws, before concluding 2022 with back-to-back victories – their first of the season. All in all, one loss in seven was a handy return. After shrugging off 5-0 and 0-4 demolitions against Morecambe and Shrewsbury Town respectively, four triumphs in five ramped up momentum. Form since has been patchy, but ultimately they’ve ticked along well – notably picking up wins against Wycombe Wanderers, Barnsley and Sheffield Wednesday. Yet to lose consecutive games since the turn of the year, Maamria’s troops are lodged in 17th and still could finish as high as 12th.
Accustomed to a 3-4-2-1 formation, the Brewers have a real mix of up-and-coming talents and experienced heads who help lead the way. One of those is goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray, the 30-year-old has been indispensable since making the move in January. Loanee Jasper Moon has been integral towards the safety pursuit and has benefitted playing alongside the know-how of John Brayford and fierce centre-back Sam Hughes, who has popped up with nine league goal involvements. In the middle of the park, Deji Oshilaja has been transformed into an industrious, no-nonsense midfielder, pulling the strings alongside Joe Powell to ensure the likes of wide threats Jonny Smith, Charlie Kirk and Zac Ashworth can thrive. Blessed with a plethora of attacking options, exciting prospect Mark Helm is growing with minutes, Nottingham Forest loanee Dale Taylor has adapted to third tier life astutely and Gassan Ahadme and Mustapha Carayol wait in the wings hungry to impress.
Burton Albion: WDLWL
Cambridge United: DWLLW
The U’s are in charge of their own fate after they picked up a significant 1-2 victory to leapfrog Accrington Stanley at the Wham Stadium last time out.
Assertively controlling a cagey introduction, the visitors drew first blood through club legend Harrison Dunk on the stroke of the break, before George Thomas opened his United account with a composed finish with an hour on the clock. Aaron Pressley’s late penalty forced a scare, but the men in blue remained firm to ensure three precious points.
Beaming with delight, Mark Bonner said, “Our temperament was excellent. Our discipline was superb and in the first half we were really well controlled. We handled everything that was going to be here today well until the frantic finish.”
Although work still needs to be done, the task doesn’t require too many permutations for United – win their final two and survival is secured. Up to 22nd, the group are a single point away from Morecambe and MK Dons – who both avoided defeat – but can utilise this game to climb to 20th. Enjoying their best form of the season, and scoring in eight successive matches, the U’s are eager to steam to the finish line.
Looking forward to the trip, the Head Coach pleaded, "The message to them (the fans) is come Wednesday if you can. If you can get to Burton, come. If you can tell your mates to come, bring them. And tell them to bring their mates because if we can sell that out we’re going to need everyone. It’s a massive game for us… we’ve got to be outstanding and win the game.”
Burton Albion Wins: 5
Cambridge United Wins: 7
Down Memory Lane
The U’s last meeting against the Brewers dished up undoubtedly their most pulsating victory of the season when a warm Abbey played host to a breath-taking 4-3 success in August.
Although Ahadme prodded home after 14 seconds, the Brewers had work to do when they were reduced to ten men shortly after. Despite needing to battle back on numerous occasions, United secured maximum points courtesy of a delightful Sam Smith hat-trick and Liam O’Neil’s sweet piledriver.
After witnessing his side stretch their early formidable form on home soil, a relieved Bonner said: “I think the analysis of the moments that could be better is probably for another day because, in the end, if you win 4-3, you’re behind three times, and you’ve got a third win on the spin at home in the league, and a lad scores a hat-trick and we have as much good attacking play as we did in that game, I think that’s worth the headlines a lot more.”
All in all, it’s usually an entertaining clash when the sides meet. Following a period of encounters in non-league, the U’s boast the superior record since their 2014 promotion – winning three, drawing once at this weekend’s venue and losing the solitary time. In those five matches, 29 goals have been plummeted, with 18 being from United men.
Referee: Andy Haines
Assistant Referee: Grant Taylor
Assistant Referee: Blake Antrobus
Fourth Official: Robert Lewis