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Match Previews

Match Preview: U's vs Bolton

5 February 2024

Match Previews

Match Preview: U's vs Bolton

5 February 2024

Cambridge United will be required to dig in to preserve their unbeaten streak on Tuesday evening when they welcome promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers to the Cledara Abbey Stadium…

Accumulating a four-game run without defeat for the first time this season in Sky Bet League One, Neil Harris’ men continue to climb the division and build up steam. They’ll be quietly optimistic against the Trotters, who have been hot on the heels of the front-runners all throughout – with consistently sound form of one defeat in eight behind them, an action-packed night under the floodlights awaits.

How to Watch

Impressive attendances look set to continue at CB5, with the midweek fixture – which kicks off at 7:45pm – poised to be played out in front of another bumper crowd.

Secure your place online at cufctickets.com, over the phone on 01223 566500 (option 1) or by visiting the Stadium Ticket Office ahead of kick-off.

As part of the Club’s recent partnership with the University of Cambridge, the Club are offering students in the city to take advantage by getting behind the U’s at the discounted price of £5 – a valid Student Card will be required upon entry.

Fans in the UK and abroad who are unable to attend can ensure that they don’t miss a kick of the action by purchasing an iFollow Match Pass. Passes cost £10 and can be purchased by clicking here.

Opposition Focus

Formed in 1874, the four-time FA Cup winners and EFL Trophy holders have had a topsy-turvy couple of decades under their belt, from the highs of a UEFA Cup run to sliding to the pits of the fourth tier. Since the appointment of Ian Evatt in July 2020, the Trotters’ faithful have been accustomed to an impressive incline, which has consisted of one promotion, stabilisation and the awakening of a giant. The aim of playing Championship football for the first time since 2019 looms closer, particularly after last campaign’s play-off finish, with progression looking inevitable this time around.

Deploying a penetrable, modern-day 3-1-4-2 formation, Evatt likes to suffocate and attack from the get-go, whilst remaining resolute at the back too. So far, it’s paying off – Wanderers have conceded the joint-least in the league with a mere 27. At just 25, former Chelsea keeper Nathan Baxter has been a revelation, as has Eoin Toal ahead of him, who could be partnered by loanee Caleb Taylor and former U Jack Iredale following a recent injury to colossus Ricardo Santos. Josh Sheehan plays the all-important holding role, with Kyle Dempsey and Paris Maghoma just ahead enjoying the freedom and dictating for wide options Josh Cogley and Zac Ashworth. In the final third, powerhouses Dion Charles and Victor Adeboyejo have developed a superb partnership, combining for 21 goals in total, with heaps of options on the bench in the form of experienced Cameron Jerome and Jon Dabi Bodvarsson, as well as the recent addition of 2022/23 League One Player of the Season Aaron Collins.

An imperious introduction to the campaign saw the Trotters ease to comfortable victories against Lincoln City, Cheltenham Town and Fleetwood Town, scoring nine in the process to flex their attacking prowess. A surprise 0-4 hammering to Wigan Athletic followed, but they responded with a run of three wins, two draws and the sole defeat in their next six. A surprise defeat to newly-relegated Carlisle United signalled an upturn where they secured six wins on the bounce, including a 7-0 hammering at home to Exeter City to briefly rise them towards the summit. A three-match winless run followed, but since the Christmas period they’ve rekindled their front-footed approach by registering 19 points from a possible 24. A top six spot looks to be the worst case scenario for Bolton, who have a five-point gap from top of the table to bridge with three games in hand, which starts this evening.

Form Guide

Cambridge United: LWDDW

Bolton Wanderers: LWWLD

United’s Approach

Buoyed, the U’s will fancy their chances of another positive result to continue their ascension as they come into this tie off the back of a clinical 1-2 comeback success against Shrewsbury Town.

Although they lost their streak without conceding early on in the encounter through Daniel Udoh’s close-range finish, Lyle Taylor responded with two instinctive finishes to conclude two excellent counters to secure their first three points away from home since August.

Cutting a jubilant figure, Harris stated post-match: “It’s been a long time coming. I can’t praise the players enough – to come from behind in any game is difficult but the way we did it was very impressive. Shrewsbury had a lot of the possession; it was in the wrong areas for me. We dictated where they had the ball, and we looked a threat and could have scored more goals.”

Onto 35 points for the campaign - something which took them until 7th April to claim last season – on a weekend where many around them failed to clinch anything, a gap of seven points has now formed for United. They won’t get ahead of themselves, but progress is there for all to see. With an upcoming fixture schedule that sees them take on the Trotters again and three other promotion-chasers in their next seven, an excellent test of calibre awaits.

Head-to-Head

Cambridge United Wins: 4

Bolton Wanderers Wins: 7

Draws: 8

Down Memory Lane

A memorable meeting as recently as April 2023 saw the U’s claim what proved to be a crucial point in their fight towards safety as they snatched a last-gasp 1-1 draw against the high-flyers in Lancashire.

In front of a bumper 24,377, the U’s played with sheer confidence and pushed the hosts all the way. Despite falling behind on the 67th minute through Declan John, Mark Bonner’s side remained upbeat and earned their way back into the game via Sam Smith’s deft header at the conclusion to deservedly ensure a share of the spoils.

It was a similar story in the reverse fixture in November 2022 as a spirited United were forced to settle for a point against the ten-man Trotters after they were unable to capitalise on any of the gilt-edged chances they created during a thoroughly-improved performance.

All in all, the head-to-head reads at one win from the seven meetings between the sides stretching back to the turn of the millennium, so the hosts will be hoping for a similar result to the 1-0 victory on this soil back in August 2021.

Match Officials

Referee: David Rock

Assistant Referee: Daniel Robinson

Assistant Referee: Alistair Nelson

Fourth Official: Jacob Lehane


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