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Match Previews

Match Preview: U's vs Portsmouth

23 October 2023

Match Previews

Match Preview: U's vs Portsmouth

23 October 2023

Cambridge United are looking to produce a Sky Bet League One scalp under the floodlights on Tuesday evening when unbeaten Portsmouth make the trip to the Abbey Stadium...

The U’s, who have endured a testing period which has seen them fail to register a victory in their last seven league outings, will need to rip up the form book when they entertain a Pompey outfit who are runaway leaders at the top and boast the meanest defence in the division.

How to Watch

The midweek clash, which gets underway at 7:45pm, is expected to be fought out in front of another bumper crowd.

Tickets are available online at, but be aware that space in the Main Stand and Newmarket Road End is extremely limited. A decent amount is still on offer in the Intelligent Membranes North and South Habbin terraces, however. Secure your place well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Not able to attend? Be sure to pick up your iFollow Match Pass so you can follow the U’s from all over the globe. Passes cost £10 and are available to purchase by clicking here.

Alternatively, you can tune into BBC Radio Cambridgeshire’s live coverage of the proceedings.

Opposition Focus

Enriched with a past packed to the brim with triumphant eras, Pompey were founded in 1898, were promoted to the top-flight for the first time in their history 29 years later and went on to reach two FA Cup finals before finally lifting the prestigious trophy in 1939. A decade later, they kick-started their golden era, winning Division One in consecutive campaigns – only four other clubs have achieved this since. From the late 1950s, they started to fluctuate between the divisions, but made a return in 1987 and would soon establish themselves once more. A second FA Cup triumph ensured European football for the first time in 2008, but crippling financial crisis ensued as, just five years later, they were languishing in the fourth tier. Building up steam since, a League Two title success, EFL Trophy euphoria and six successive top 10 finishes in League One has been welcoming, but they’re hungry for more this time out. As far as starts go, a euphoric campaign is brewing.

That’s credit to up-and-coming gaffer John Mousinho, who has galvanised the club since his January appointment. Making his side hard to beat, possessing bite and creativity in the middle and with a clinical edge up top, his 4-2-3-1 setup encapsulates that. Familiar face Will Norris has kept six clean sheets so far and has a watertight back four ahead of him which includes a no-nonsense pairing of Conor Shaughnessy and Regan Poole, with Joe Rafferty and creative spark Jack Sparkes as full-backs. Welsh and Australian international Joe Morrell and Alex Robertson sit ahead and break things down, with the youthful Paddy Lane and Abu Kamara supplying ammunition on the wing for exciting Chelsea loanee Faustino Anjorin and battering ram Colby Bishop, who has plummeted eight goals so far.

An opening day 1-1 tussle with Bristol Rovers showcased their never-say-die attitude, before they humbled Leyton Orient with a devastating 0-4 thrashing. A slender 1-0 victory against Exeter City followed, before stalemates were played out against Cheltenham Town and Stevenage. A return to winning ways occurred against Peterborough United, before a draw away at Derby County in mid-September was the catalyst in registering six successive wins in League One, scoring 12 goals in the process as they catapulted into pole position. Conceding just eight, the least in the division, Pompey have a current eight-point gap from 3rd – it’ll take some doing to knock them off their mantle.

Form Guide

Cambridge United: LLDLL

Portsmouth: WWWWW

United’s Approach

The U’s difficult spell continued on Saturday as they succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to Cheltenham at the Completely-Suzuki Stadium.

A sublime chipped attempt from Liam Sercombe within the opening minutes proved enough to separate the sides on an afternoon where the hosts claimed their first win of the campaign and added further frustration for United.

Dissecting the display, Mark Bonner stated: “Our performance level hasn’t been where it was at the start, there’s lots for us to do to get better.

“The next games come very quick at the moment. We need to have some courage and step up and I’ve got to find some solutions in terms of team selection and making the right decisions with preparing the team well.”

The defeat stretched their streak to seven without a win in the league, which in turn has regressed the side to 18th in the standings. Nonetheless, the gap from the drop to fifth is the same (seven), so a quick change in fortunes and results would ensure they’re looking up rather than down. Home form could be pivotal for that - the U’s have lost just once in their previous five and may pinpoint that in their efforts to return to the win column.


Cambridge United Wins: 3

Portsmouth Wins: 16

Draws: 4

Down Memory Lane

In our last meeting back in March, Cambridge were made to rue their cutting edge in front of goal as Portsmouth secured a slender 0-1 victory at CB5.

In an authoritative opening hour, the U’s looked destined to break the deadlock, with all of the main opportunities falling their way. Ultimately, they couldn’t convert them as a clinical Pompey claimed maximum points thanks to Bishop’s close-range header.

In spite of defeat, the Head Coach was encouraged, saying: “Statistically the win probability for us is 98%. Put the ball in the net and that’s a winning performance for us. That’s a really good level… 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 wins that we need.”

From the 23 previous encounters, United have been unable to record a triumph on 20 occasions against a Blues side who remarkably went unbeaten in 16 between 1983 and 2021.

Pompey recorded the double in 2022/23, but the previous season the U’s recorded a win in the Football League Trophy and clinched four points, which included a first-ever success at the famous Fratton Park. As far as home comforts go, the hosts’ only league win at the Abbey was back in March 1978 – a streak they hope will be shattered on Tuesday.


Referee: Declan Bourne

Assistant Referee: Marc Wilson

Assistant Referee: Stuart Butler

Fourth Official: Daniel Bonneywell

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