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Cambridge United 2 v 2 Ipswich Town
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 16th October 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Cook: It’s a Big Game, There’s Big Bragging Rights That Go With It
Friday, 15th Oct 2021 12:30

Town make the relatively short trip to Cambridge United on Saturday looking to win back-to-back league matches for the first time under Paul Cook and record three victories on the trot in all competitions.

The Blues beat Shrewsbury 2-1 last weekend having defeated Gillingham 2-0 away in the Papa John’s Trophy on the preceding Tuesday.

Town have won only once on the road in League One this season, 1-0 at Lincoln a month ago, with all their other three league away games having all ended in 2-1 defeats with the Blues having taken the lead in two of them, at Cheltenham and Accrington.

Cambridge, promoted having finished second in League Two last season, are currently in 16th place behind the Blues, who are two slots above them, on goal difference alone.

They are without a win in their last three and have won once in their previous five, during which time they have lost two - among them a 5-1 hammering by the Imps - and drawn one at home. Last Saturday their game at Morecambe was postponed due to international calls with their most recent fixture the 2-2 at Crewe Alexandra a fortnight ago.

Their standout results so far this season are a 3-0 home win against Burton and a 4-1 victory at the Abbey against Oxford United.

Having been promoted back to the third tier for the first time since 2002, the U’s will be happy enough with the way they have settled into the division.

Blues manager Paul Cook has been impressed by his Cambridge counterpart Mark Bonner, who has been in charge since January 2020 when he was put in caretaker charge before being handed the role on a permanent basis two months later.

“He’s done a great job Mark, hasn’t he?” the Town boss said. “He’s done a really good job from getting that promotion last year to coming into a new league that offers totally different challenges.

“I’m sure they’ll have learnt a lot in their short period in the league, they’ve had some outstanding results, some really good wins, they’ve travelled away from home. I’m sure Mark will be really pleased.

“I think it’s a game that the whole area of the country will be looking forward to, the game’s sold out. We take great travelling support and it’s a fixture that even for managers, myself and our players, it’s one that excites us, it very much does.

“It’s one that we look forward to and think ‘Come on!’. The hairs on your body stand up because it’s a derby match as such, it’s a big game, there’s big bragging rights that go with it and it’s a game we desperately want to do well in.”

The visit to Cambridge is the first of four of the next five away from home. The Blues are at Cook’s old club Portsmouth on Tuesday, then host Fleetwood before further trips to current leaders Plymouth and then Wycombe, who are second.

Cook says he’s not looking too far forward at present: “You guys tell me every game that the next game’s a big one and the next one coming up after that’s a big one. I just keep going in my world, I don’t get too far ahead.

“I’m looking to Cambridge tomorrow, we’ve prepared really well. We are preparing really well.

“The Accrington result [where Town lost 2-1] brought us all down to earth a little bit because we’d travelled to Accrington probably with an aura about us that we were getting better.

“Accrington brought us down to earth with a bump. We travel across to Cambridge tomorrow with a similar aura, but we need to produce more, so we’ll know tomorrow at 5pm if the messages from Accrington have been good.”

Cook is unlikely to make too many changes from the team which beat Shrewsbury with his big decision whether to start Conor Chaplin, who has scored in each of the last two matches in all competitions, or Bersant Celina, who was away on international duty with Kosovo last week, in the number 10 role.

Given his goals, Chaplin may well get the nod with Celina playing a part from the bench in the second half, either as a direct replacement or in a wide role.

Vaclav Hladky looks set to continue in goal, although Christian Walton is likely to be close to a return from his adductor injury with Cook having remained tightlipped on injuries at his press conference.

Janoi Donacien will be at right-back, while Hayden Coulson is similarly likely to be near to being back on the left after his thigh problem. If fit, the on-loan Middlesbrough man will take over from Matt Penney, who otherwise will keep his place. George Edmundson and Cameron Burgess will continue as the centre-halves.

In midfield, skipper Sam Morsy will again probably be partnered by Lee Evans, while Scott Fraser will be on the left and Wes Burns on the right. Macauley Bonne will be out to grab his 10th goal of the season as the lone striker.

The game is set to be a 7,944 sell-out with 2,500 Town supporters officially present but with a fair few more expected to be in home areas of the ground. It will be the first full house at the Abbey since an FA Cup tie against Leeds United in January 2017. The U’s host Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday with that match also close to a sell-out.

“We have had no games in 13 days and now we are likely to have nine in the next 29 days. To start this busy period with those games is great, and we are really looking forward to Saturday,” Bonner told his club’s official website.

“I think the fact that it's a sell-out is a bit of a sign of the size of the opposition, but also how far we have come as a club. I do not remember too many sell-outs over my last 10 years here, excluding the FA Cup.

“I am expecting a really good atmosphere and we have to make sure that brings the best out of us.

“We have really enjoyed playing at home this year, due to the atmosphere and I think with a really full Abbey with a sold-out away following brings the best out of our supporters as well, and in turn, hopefully brings the best out in the team. Two challenging games that we are really looking forward to getting back with.”

Regarding Town, he added: “They could put two or three XIs on the pitch that would be very competitive in this league.

“Obviously the new ownership in the summer has taken them to that new level, however with that comes a pressure and expectation, and sometimes it takes a bit of time to get going.

“They’ve got a very experienced manager in Paul Cook, who’s been successful wherever he has been at.

“No doubt last weekend they would have seen Shrewsbury as a winnable game and this is another one that they will expect to come and win as well, so we have to handle that and make sure we can make it as difficult afternoon for them as we can.

“Paul Cook's teams have always had a fairly consistent way of playing over the years and we need to be ready for it.

“Individually, their players have got very good qualities throughout the team, and we have to try and find some areas that we feel we can exploit. We have got to make sure that defensively we are at our best.

“Our responsibility is to be best we can and we have shown so far that we can be competitive in the league. We are to look forward to the challenge of competing against a superpower of this league this weekend.”

Cambridge are likely to be without former Blues forward Jack Lankester, who picked up a knock in training but otherwise have a full-strength squad.

Former Norwich forward Wes Hoolahan is fine to face the Blues after recovering from knee and chest injuries.

Town have only met Cambridge competitively on five occasions with the Blues winning twice, the U’s twice and with one game ending in a draw.

Town’s wins both came in the Coca-Cola Cup in 1993/94 when goals from Steve Whitton and Simon Milton saw John Lyall’s men to a 2-1 victory at Portman Road in the first leg.

In the second at the Abbey Stadium, the most recent competitive match between the sides, Ian Marshall and Chris Kiwomya netted in a 2-0 win.

The only league meetings between the teams came in Town’s 1991/92 Second Division title season in which the U’s won 2-1 at Portman Road, Mick Stockwell scoring for Town.

The game at the Abbey ended in a controversial 1-1 draw with the home side’s goal having come from Mick Heathcote after a clear foul on Craig Forrest, Milton having given the Blues the lead three minutes earlier.

The first meeting between the clubs was in the Littlewoods Cup in 1986 when Bobby Ferguson’s side were beaten 1-0 at the Abbey Stadium.

The teams have also met regularly in pre-season at the Abbey over the years with the most recent fixture in August 2020 when a goal from former Blue Paul Digby saw Cambridge to a 1-0 victory.

The Cambridge squad includes ex-Blue Lankester, who joined them in the summer from Town.

Lankester came through the academy ranks at Playford Road and went on to make 13 first-team starts and 17 sub appearances, scoring three goals.

Centre-half or midfielder Digby moved to Town from Barnsley in January 2016 before making the switch permanent the following summer. He made a total of seven starts and five sub appearances without scoring.

Cambridge midfielder Shilow Tracey, who moved to the Abbey after being released by Spurs in the summer, had a trial at Town in 2015 when a 17-year-old with Ebbsfleet United's academy and featured for the Blues’ U21s.

Town striker Joe Pigott spent 2016/17 on loan with the U’s, scoring once in nine starts and eight sub appearances.

Midfielder Idris El Mizouni has had two spells on loan at Cambridge, the first more successful stint in the second half of the curtailed 2019/20 season and the second in the first half of last season. In total, the Tunisian international made 12 starts and 10 sub appearances for the U’s, scoring one goal.

Saturday’s referee is Leigh Doughty from Lancashire, who has shown 38 yellow cards and one red in nine games so far this season. Doughty will be taking charge of his first Town match.

Squad from: Holy, Hladky, Walton, Donacien, Vincent-Young, Penney, Coulson, Edmundson, Burgess, Woolfenden, Nsiala, Morsy, Evans, Harper, El Mizouni, Fraser, Burns, Chaplin, Celina, Aluko, Edwards, Bonne, Pigott, Barry, Norwood, Jackson.

Photo: TWTD

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markchips added 13:20 - Oct 15
Evans missing from the squad- Phil ?

Orraman added 13:54 - Oct 15
Love watching these old clips. Johnny Wark and Simon Milton with hair!! One of my old favourites Mickey Stockwell scoring. The old North Stand and Churchmans and forgotten how much space between the goal and the North Stand. Two old Cambridge stalwarts as well in Claridge and Dublin but something that has not changed after 20 years was watching Ipswich desperately trying to cling on to a point but succumbing in the last 5 minutes to shambolic defending and failing to clear the ball

Orraman added 13:57 - Oct 15
Re above - make that 30 years. Hope they get it right tomorrow

keighleyblue added 14:08 - Oct 15
Although getting 3 pts is vital, it's not really a big derby game is it? Hardly Everton vs Liverpool, eh Paul. FFS Cambridge have been in the Conference or Division 4 since 2004!!!

Norwich is a derby, West Ham is a derby (sort of)

ringwoodblue added 14:17 - Oct 15
If fit, I would start with Coulson as he has been more effective than Penney. Think Chaplin should stay in the team and then maybe play Celina against Pompey.

Would like to see Pigott play off Bonne but can’t see that happening.

It would be great to finally beat one of the promoted teams. COYB!

Mediocre_Quick added 14:18 - Oct 15
What bragging rights? I can assure you not one Town fans sees this as a big derby game, it;s a minor game, much like Colchester, Southend, Peterborough, the only derby that matters in these parts is The Old Farm

midastouch added 14:25 - Oct 15
Dion Dublin was a big fan favourite for Man Utd. That's because when he broke his leg they went out and got Eric Cantona instead! :-)

midastouch added 14:27 - Oct 15
I'd swap 100 victories against Cambridge for 1 over Norwich! :-)

ipswichone added 14:38 - Oct 15
Its not our derby match,but might be using to fire up players

Lloyds added 14:44 - Oct 15
Think it has to be
Penney but if not fit then Coulson
I think Hladky and Evans are needing to up their games or I can see change soon.
El Mizouni has probably forced himself into the reckoning over Carroll if he still unfit.
Think the team needs more aggression from midfield when we don’t have the ball.
You won’t get much from the usual 3 behind Bonne. Can see Coulson being of use as a strong left midfielder when needed.
Would love to be there…. If anyone can get one of those tickets that Cambridge are selling today please let me know!😄

ArnieM added 14:51 - Oct 15
PC definitely talking this game up , isn’t he …. Putting pressure on our players deliberately? Hopefully (ell get a positive response. I suspect a number of clubs have taken Cambridge for granted and left with their tails between their legs. Here’s hopim* we4e not the next “ big” Club to go the same way…..

norfolkbluey added 15:15 - Oct 15
If only we had Ian Marshall and Steve Whitton at their best now!! Keeping my fingers firmly crossed because Wes Hoolahan was a great player for Norwich a real pain in the neck at the time. However we are where we are so 'come on you blues' and good luck tomorrow. Tougher games up ahead and we need convincing wins starting tomorrow. Less sloppy defending is the now the target.

legoman added 17:18 - Oct 15
Only Edwards and Celina should occupy the left wing spot, after that I will be happy with what Cooky decides.

stiffy501 added 17:22 - Oct 15
Don't really regard it as a derby game, coming from the west side of the county i take an interest in how they get on, rather like those from the east side take a look at how Colchester do !!!
There is only one derby game for us !!!!!

Oldboy added 18:38 - Oct 15
Every league game is a big game.

TimmyH added 21:14 - Oct 15
Who would have thought!...bragging rights over Cambridge!! oh how times have changed.

miltonmowbray added 21:57 - Oct 15
Bang up for this, fingers crossed we win. The idea this is a grudge match, or about local bragging rights, if true, is not neccessarily wrong, but is genuinely embarrassing.

barrystedmunds added 07:32 - Oct 16
Lets face it, we're hardly going into this match brimming with confidence are we? A nervy win??? is the best we can hope for. We really need to see signs that we are kicking on and to start making inroads into this league. COYB

Saxonblue74 added 07:48 - Oct 16
3 points please, not interested in "bragging rights" for this one. Unsurprisingly for a club that have sold out an 8k capacity stadium for the first time in 4 years despite relative success I don't have to face a single smug U's fan next week should the unthinkable happen! Should we be playing THE Derby game, that would be a very different matter!

Jesney_Havoc added 09:16 - Oct 16
Another manager who doesn’t understand the East Anglian situation. Only punishing Nodge counts round here.

Nobbysnuts added 10:22 - Oct 16
It's not a Derby game paul......dear me does he know nothing

KiwiTractor added 10:33 - Oct 16
Come on lads, another 3 points please.

I think it would be very rough on Chaplin, if he wasn't given a start in this one.

Europablue added 10:46 - Oct 16
A derby game, just like the classic Liverpool Newcastle derby

bobble added 11:36 - Oct 16
its a tiny game in the history of town , just like cook is a tiny 3rd division manager.......buts thats where ,we are so this is who we get,

tractorboybig added 11:38 - Oct 16
How far have we sunk????? bragging rights against cambridge UTD

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