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🔎 The Opposition: Cambridge United (H)

Joe Glanville takes an in-depth look at Saturday's opponents

24 January 2019

Exeter City will be looking to get back to winning ways when they face a resurgent Cambridge United side on Saturday, buoyed by three consecutive victories.

While the Grecians remain firmly in the hunt for a play-off berth, Cambridge have alleviated their regelation fears with nine points in January giving them a five-point berth between themselves and 23rd placed Macclesfield Town.

Here’s everything you need to know about Exeter’s opponents...

  • Founded: 1912
  • Nickname: The U’s
  • Honours: Football League One champions: 1990/92. Football League Two champions: 1976/77. FA Trophy: 2013/14

Cambridge spent their formative years outside the Football League and it was not until 1970 that the club finally emerged from dark into the fourth tier of English football.

That fateful year of promotion earmarked a fruitful and sustained period in the Football League, consolidating their position for the preceding thirty-five seasons before relegation in 2005.

In that time period the U’s won the Third Division in 1990/91 and then went so close to promotion to the Premier League, before coming up short in the play-off semi-finals.

The late 80’s and early 90’s were the most exciting times in the club’s history as they reached back-to-back FA Cup quarter-finals in 1989/90 and 1990/91, as well as the quarter-finals of the League Cup in 1992/93.

Cambridge bounced back from a nine year hiatus in the Conference in 2014 and have since retained their position in League Two.

The manager

Colin Calderwood

Having accrued over an astonishing 600 appearances during his playing days, the level of pedigree Colin Calderwood possesses in undeniable.

The Scot’s remarkable career includes over 300 games for Swindon Town, while he has also represented English giants Tottenham Hotspur and turned out for country on 36 occasions.

Calderwood’s pedigree on the pitch has been replicated off it, with managerial stints at Northampton Town, Nottingham Forest and Hibernian. The defender’s also been an adept number two at Newcastle United, Birmingham City, Norwich City, Brighton and Aston Villa.

Calderwood only took the reigns at Cambridge in late December with the club embroiled in the relegation mire, but have moved a further four points clear of the drop zone since then.

The ground

  • Name: Abbey Stadium
  • Capacity: 8,127
  • Year opened: 1932
  • Address: Cambridge United, The Abbey Stadium, Newmarket Road, Cambridge, CB5 8LN

After playing at several stadiums for the first twenty years of their history, Cambridge United moved into the Abbey Stadium in 1932, christening their first ever match with a victory against Cambridge University Press in a friendly.

Coincidentally, their record attendance also came in a friendly when 14,000 converged to watch the visit of Chelsea in 1970.

Despite the club enjoying deep cup runs in the late 80’s and early 90’s, as well as marginally missing out on the promise land of the Premier League in 1992, that record attendance remains intact to this day.

One to watch

George Maris

George Maris continues to step up the gears at Cambridge United after netting ten goals last season, the attack-minded midfielder has built on that attacking prowess this season with six goals to date.


At the tender age of 22, the former Barnsley man has plenty of scope for improvement and could be a decisive figure in a Cambridge attacking unit that have scored six in their last three.

Recent form guide

With three wins from three and six goals in the process, it is safe to say the U’s are riding the crest of a wave.

Calderwood’s arrival in the dugout has heralded four wins from six with their relegation fears diminishing week on week.

Backline frailties still exist for Calderwood’s men who suffered a 6-0 annihilation at the hands of MK Dons on New Years Day.

2017/18 season in review

  • Position: League Two - 12th
  • Top goalscorer: Uche Ikpeazu - 13 goals
  • Average attendance: 4,283

The first game of the season was a repeat of Saturday’s showdown, with Cambridge suffering a 1-0 defeat at St James Park.

But the U’s soon enjoyed an upturn of form, winning four games in September and propelling themselves up to 12th.

However, fluctuating and inconsistent form ensured mostly midtable meandering throughout the season. But while safety was never in question, a disappointing January with no wins on the board resulted in the departure of manager Shaun Derry.

The rest of the season was a case in consolidation as Cambridge enjoyed an immediate upturn in fortunes with three consecutive wins in a row.

Safety was guaranteed and a 12th place finish only meant marginally worse seasons than the two prior.

Key stats

Most recent meetings

Cambridge United 0-2 Exeter City (League Two – August 21, 2018)

Quickfire first-half goals from Jonathan Forte and Jayden Stockley ensured Exeter City still set the pace at the top of the table, while consigning Cambridge to their second league defeat of the season.

The victory was not as straightforward as the scoreline suggested, as the host enjoyed the bulk of possession, but paid for their prolificacy in front of goal.

Cambridge United 2-3 Exeter City (League Two – April 7, 2018)

Exeter staged an exceptional comeback with two late goals, stoking the fires of a final promotion surge at the tail-end of the season.

The U’s had taken the lead heading into the interval through Jabo Ibehre, but deadly marksmen Stockley equalised at the hour mark. Maris then put the hosts ahead once more, before Matt Jay and Jake Taylor kept alive their automatic promotion hopes with goals in the 84th and 87th minute respectively.

Exeter City 1-0 Cambridge United (League Two – August, 5, 2017)

Despite missing a 5th minute penalty, Reuben Reid promptly made amends by turning home the rebound with his goal proving the decisive difference in the league’s season opener.

Chances came at both ends, but Reid’s early strike ensured Exeter rebounded from their chastening defeat in the League Two play-off final of the season prior.

Ticket news:

Tickets are on sale at advance prices until 5pm in person and midnight online, on Friday, January 11 so, why not save money and time queuing by buying in advance!

You can book online via Mobile, tablet or desktop by visiting: tickets.ecfc.co.uk or by calling: 01392 411 243 or by visiting the club shop/reception at St James Park.


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