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EYE ON THE OPPOSITION | Cambridge United (A)

21 October 2022

Club News

EYE ON THE OPPOSITION | Cambridge United (A)

21 October 2022

The Vale are back on the road this weekend as we face Cambridge United at the Abbey Stadium in Sky Bet League One action.

A city known for its famous university, its football club, Cambridge United, have grown in stature, currently sitting 18th in their second consecutive season back in the third tier.

The U’s have lost four league games in a row, with the last being a 2-0 loss at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

However, this weekend’s hosts did return to winning ways on Tuesday against ten-man Ipswich Town in the Papa Johns Trophy.

Vale will be travelling down to Cambridgeshire hoping to replicate the result of our last away match in the league, a 2-1 win at Derby County.

The Valiants have put together a three-match unbeaten run after a late comeback saw us earn a point against Forest Green Rovers last Saturday, and two second-half goals completed a 2-0 victory over Wolves Under-21s in the Papa Johns Trophy on Tuesday.

Saturday’s match will be an interesting clash, so here is what you need to know about United before we lock horns with them at the weekend.

ONE TO WATCH: Sam Smith

The U’s top scorer last season, Sam Smith, no… not that one, will be leading the line for the hosts this Saturday and with his goalscoring record, he will be one we hope to keep quiet.

Smith is enduring his second spell at United after he initially joined on loan from Reading for the 2019/20 season, scoring a total of eight times.

The striker went on loan six times during his time at reading with the final one being very successful as he played a part in Cheltenham Town’s League Two title-winning side in 2021.

After his success in Gloucestershire the 24-year-old returned to Cambridge, but this time on a permanent basis, signing a two-year contract.

Cambridge reaped the rewards from the signing as the Smith went on to score 15 league goals last campaign, whilst scoring a total of 21 in all competitions, a fantastic return for his first season back at the club.

The Manchester-born has been involved in six goals so far this campaign, netting four and assisting two, so it looks like he has started the current calendar in a similar fashion to how he finished the last.

THE MAN AT THE HELM: Mark Bonner

A man that knows the club extremely well, Mark Bonner has been the man in the dugout for the U’s since 2020, but his coaching career at the club has lasted a lot longer.

Bonner joined Cambridge over a decade ago in 2011, starting in a coaching role at the academy before moving up the ranks in their youth teams.

The 36-year-old worked his way up through the ranks at United before securing a First Team coaching role at the club in Shaun Derry’s backroom staff.

Born in Cambridge, Bonner’s passion for the club has never wavered, and whenever called upon he took over the senior side on a caretaker basis whenever a new manager was being recruited.

Nine years after joining the club, and after many different roles in his time with the U’s, the young boss finally got the managerial role on a permanent basis in March 2020.

Covid meant Bonner had to wait until the next season to oversee his first match for United as the permanent gaffer.

His first season at the Cambridgeshire side was extremely successful, he led them to promotion to the third tier for the first time since 2002.

After signing a new contract with the club in the summer of 2021, Bonner’s second season was also a good one, overseeing a 14th-place finish in their return to League One, and a fantastic FA Cup run which include a third-round victory over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park.

STADIUM: The Abbey Stadium

Cambridge’s history with the Abbey Stadium is a fascinating one, the home of the club since 1932, the club recently purchased the stadium permanently after having to sell the ground to survive in 2004.

Regaining full control of the stadium in September 2022 was a massive moment for the club after all the troubles they went through earlier in the century.

The ground has a capacity of 8,127, and you Vale fans will be situated in a sector of the Habbin Stand, an all-terraced single-tier stand.

HEAD-TO-HEAD LAST FIVE:

Vale wins: 2

Draws: 0

Cambridge wins: 3

Matches between us and the U’s have been tight in the last five meetings, and unfortunately, it’s this weekend’s hosts that just edge us out by three wins to two.

 


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