Attentions turn to the Papa John's Trophy on Tuesday (11th Jan) following United's FA Cup success on Saturday...
Mark Bonner’s men sealed a historic 1-0 win over Newcastle United in the U’s previous outing on Saturday, with Joe Ironside scoring the game’s only goal in the 52nd minute after Harvey Knibbs’ strike was saved, only for the ball to fall to the striker, who on the turn, fired home to send the 5,000 raiders from Cambridgeshire into raptures at St. James’ Park.
Cambridge United form: WLLDW
Despite the Premier League outfit squandering multiple opportunities either side of the half-time whistle, no thanks to U’s ‘keeper Dimitar Mitov pulling off several impressive saves, Cambridge United were able to hold on, and in turn sealed a Fourth Round tie against Luton Town.
Attentions now turn to the Papa John’s Trophy, and a repeat of the lively Abbey Stadium clash against Portsmouth just over a week ago whereby – despite the game finishing goalless – both sides missed golden chances before Sam Smith’s dismissal midway through the second half.
The U’s sealed their Round of 16 place towards the back end of November after seeing off Walsall thanks to goals from Harvey Knibbs and Shilow Tracey. Tuesday’s visitors however, only learnt their feat in the competition on Friday night.
Portsmouth form: LDWDW
Exeter City can count themselves unlucky not to be facing off against the U’s on Tuesday night having led against Portsmouth up until the 89th minute, however, two goals within four minutes in stoppage time from Irishman Ronan Curtis saw Nicky Cowley’s side dramatically secure their spot in the Round of 16.
Prior to Pompey’s clash with United last week, Marcus Harness and Connor Ogilvie’s goals sealed all three points against Morecambe in the second week of December before COVID-19 halted Pompey’s December, with games against AFC Wimbledon and Exeter City all being postponed before Christmas as well as the Blues’ first two fixtures after the holiday fell to the same feat.
Key Player: Marcus Harness
The Burton Albion academy graduate, who made the switch to the South Coast in July 2019 has been Portsmouth’s main output down the right this campaign. The winger has been enjoying a purple patch throughout November and December, scoring five goals in his last eight games before COVID-19 interrupted Pompey’s festive schedule. The forward sparked what would be a feisty afternoon at the Abbey last week after controversially colliding with U’s right back George Williams.
Down Memory Lane
For the third time this season, United and Pompey go to battle, with memories of last week’s 0-0 draw as well as Cambridge United’s 2-1 victory over Portsmouth living fresh in fans’ minds, as Joe Ironside and Liam O’Neil’s goals either side of the half-time whistle secured the U’s first ever win over Portsmouth at a sunny Fratton Park in September.
Despite failing to beat the U’s in their last two outings, history will certainly be on Portsmouth’s side, with Mark Bonner’s side ending an incredible 43-year winless run over Portsmouth in September, with Cambridge United’s one and only other victory coming back in 1978, as Steve Fallon’s volley proved to be enough for the three points in front of 5,869 spectators at The Abbey. Since then, Pompey have won 14 of 18 encounters against The U’s.
Before this season, the most recent encounter between the two sides came in 2017, with Luke Berry’s late strike only proving to be a consolation as Portsmouth ran out 2-1 winners in front of 18,165 at Fratton Park en route to their eventual promotion as champions out of League Two.
U’s Assistant Head Coach Gary Waddock on preparing United’s squad for Portsmouth following their heroic display at St. James’ Park on Saturday: “Portsmouth are still relatively fresh in our minds. It was only last Monday we played each other, so it makes it a little easier planning for Tuesday evening. We do not know what their team will be, but we know their style of play.
“Obviously, everyone is on a massive high from the weekend, but we have to have our feet firmly on the ground. It was a great result for us, but we must look at the bigger picture going forward.
“We have got a big game on Tuesday and then against Lincoln in the league on Saturday, which is a massive game, so we have to put that to bed. The focus is now on Tuesday night.”
Ben Toner will head up Tuesday’s clash at the Abbey Stadium, alongside Stephen Brown and Lisa Rashid, who have been appointed as his assistants. Sam Purkiss will watch from the side-lines as fourth official.
How to Watch
The match kicks off at 7pm, with tickets available online, over the phone by calling 01223 566500 or by visiting the Abbey Stadium Ticket Office on Matchday.
Only the Main Stand will be open for this fixture, with tickets priced at £12 for Adults, £10 for Concessions and £1 for U18s.
If you can't make it to the game, stream the clash live on iFollow. Match Passes cost just £10 and are available to buy now. The simplest way to do so is by clicking here and selecting the Portsmouth fixture.