Cambridge United return home on Saturday to face local rivals Stevenage, in a match which could see the U’s win promotion to League One…
A win for Mark Bonner’s men would be enough to finish the job and seal promotion into League One, but face a tricky Stevenage side who will be eager to spoil the party.
Alex Revell’s Hertfordshire charges have been on an impressive run of form since Christmas, moving themselves comfortably away from relegation trouble.
The U’s head into the game off the back of two straight wins, following crucial results against Newport and Leyton Orient over the past seven days. Going back further, Cambridge have won six, drawn one and lost one of their past eight league fixtures – a record which only Port Vale can boast as better.
Although Stevenage are a much improved outfit since the first half of the season, Boro have lost their last three games, against Salford, Mansfield and Cheltenham respectively.
There is no shortage of history between Cambridge and Stevenage, with the first meeting all the way back in 1997/98, in a two legged FA Cup Second Round tie. It was Boro who prevailed on that occasion, following up a 1-1 draw at the Abbey with a 2-1 win at Broadhall Way, but it wasn’t until the 2005/06 season when the rivalry really got underway.
Following the U’s relegation from the Football League the previous year, the two sides would regularly butt heads in the Conference Premier, and then Sky Bet League Two over the course of the next decade and a half.
One of the most memorable clashes came in the Conference Play-Off Semi-Finals in 2009, when the U’s overturned a 3-1 away defeat by blitzing Boro 3-0 in the return leg at the Abbey. A defeat against Torquay in the Final soured the taste somewhat, and Stevenage learned their lesson the following season when they won promotion into the EFL for the first time, this time as Champions.
It took the U’s another four years before they joined Stevenage in the EFL, following Play-Off success in 2013/14 and it’s Cambridge who have had the better of things in the EFL, with six wins to Stevenage’s four. Let’s not mention the last two meetings.
In total, the overall record stands all square with 11 wins apiece and 5 draws.
Speaking ahead of the game, U’s Head Coach Mark Bonner said, “The reality of the game is that Stevenage aren’t going to roll over. We have got a big game to prepare for and we know it is in our hands, which is good because we want the responsibility, and it doesn’t look like it has been a burden on us, so we know we have to find the level we have been finding.
“We know Stevenage have transformed in the second half of the season but our form since our last game against them is outstanding too. There is certainly a real motivation knowing what a positive result could bring us.”
Stevenage boss Alex Revell said, “It is an important game for everyone. We obviously had a fantastic result against them here so we want to replicate that performance and result. We have to get back to winning ways because we have set targets and we don’t want to finish on losses because it would deflate the run we have been on.”
Ross Joyce has been appointed Match Referee for Saturday’s match, with Hristo Karaivanov and Darren Blunden down as Fourth Officials. His last Cambridge game was the goalless draw at home to Southend in February, where three yellow cards were awarded. In total this season across 30 games, Joyce has handed out 126 yellow cards and four red cards.
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Make sure to stay across the club's website and social media channels in the build up to kick-off, as the Matchday Live Team will once again be on the scene to take you closer to the action from the Abbey.