Cambridge United may have been out of the EFL altogether in 2014, but head coach Mark Bonner’s style and tactics seem to be reaping positive results for the U’s of late.
Despite having the bulk of the country’s media attention firmly upon the club last week – following the stunning 1-0 win over Newcastle United in the third-round tie of the Emirates FA Cup at St. James Park - Cambridge United has never looked further than the next opponent on the club’s fixture list. After earning automatic promotion to Sky Bet League One in May 2021 – the first time they’ve participated in the third tier of the EFL pyramid in more than a decade – Cambridge United has seen results fluctuate throughout the 2021/22 season.
The U’s seemed to have turned a corner though and have won seven of their last 15 games across all competitions, while losing six games and collecting two draws during that span. In the league, Cambridge enter Tuesday evening’s game sitting 16th in the league table on 30 points, behind on goal difference but level on points with Shrewsbury Town and Charlton Athletic.
In the league, the U’s have seven wins, nine losses and nine draws. However, they have won three, lost five and drawn two in their last 10 league fixtures.
Despite his team’s recent league form, Bonner and his staff will look at January results to bolster supporter and player enthusiasm and morale, as the U’s have won three of their last four games on the spin, mixed with just a single 0-0 draw to begin the 2022 calendar year at home to Portsmouth.
Meanwhile, Bonner’s defensive talents have now re-emerged with Cambridge United keeping three clean sheets over the last four games. In fact, dating back to November, four of the U’s last six wins across all competitions have come by way of a clean sheet, including a 1-0 win over Lincoln City last time out..
The January transfer window is open, and Cambridge United has already made quick work of the signing period, bringing in defender Sam Sherring on loan from AFC Bournemouth just over a week ago. Mixed with the veteran leadership skills of Jack Iredale in defence for the U’s, as well as scoring prowess of Sam Smith and Joe Ironside, and Bonner seems to have found a good balance.
Ironside and Smith have combined for 20 of the team’s 37 goals this season, while Ironside is the club’s top goal scorer with 13 to his credit. This is good enough to place him tied for third in League One.
Midfielder Wes Hoolihan leads all performers with six assists, having played in just 16 matches this season, and speculation is swirling about a possible move away from Abbey Stadium back to Shelbourne before the January transfer window closes.
Since Cambridge United’s arrival back to the EFL at the start of the 2014/15 season, the club has met Rovers just four times, including once in the Emirates FA Cup. Rovers have won three of those prior meeting, while the teams shared the spoils courtesy a 1-1 draw earlier this season at Eco-Power Stadium.