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Match Previews

🔎 The Opposition: Cambridge United | Emirates FA Cup Second Round

Refresher on our FA Cup opponents

3 December 2021

It’s the eagerly anticipated Emirates FA Cup Second Round clash this weekend as Exeter City travel to the Abbey Stadium to face Cambridge United.

Ahead of the game, here’s an overview from our League One hosts.

  • Founded: 1912
  • Nicknames: The U’s
  • Honours: Division Three (1990/91), Division Four (1976/77), FA Trophy 2013/14
  • Home Kit: HUMMEL Amber and black striped shirt, black shorts and socks
  • Away Kit: HUMMEL Light blue and black halved shirts light blue shorts and socks
  • Form: WLDLW (16th in League One)

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.

Last season the U’s hit their stride and set the pace at the top of the League all campaign. It was been a record-breaking season for United, spearheaded by Paul Mullin. Though this year hasn’t been as smooth and currently lounge in 16th in League One going into Saturday’s fixture.

Manager

Mark Bonner

36-year-old Mark Bonner has been in charge at the Abbey Stadium since Colin Calderwood left the League Two club on 29 January, winning four of their seven matches.

Mark Bonner.JPG

Bonner has been academy manager, first-team coach and assistant boss with the U's. He joined the Abbey Stadium in 2011 working in a number of positions in the club’s academies and just seven years down the line found himself working around the first team.

Stadium

  • Name: The Abbey Stadium
  • Capacity: 8,127
  • Year opened: 1932
  • Record Attendance: 14,000 (v Chelsea, Friendly, 1st May 1970)
  • Address: Newmarket Road, Cambridge, CB5 8LN

The Abbey Stadium was built in 1923, following demand for a new stadium as then Abbey United couldn’t fit enough fans in their old stadium, Parker’s Piece.

abbey-stadium-min.jpg

The land for the Abbey Stadium was purchased in 1931 by then Club President Henry Francis, who kindly donated the land to the club following their desperation to move to a bigger stadium. After decades of intense development, the final stand in the stadium was constructed in 1954, where the west stand was constructed.

There were large developments in 2002, when the South Stand was opened. A structure familiar with away supporters, it also houses medical facilities and a police control box.

One To Watch

Sam Smith

With the daunting task of trying to emulate Paul Mullin’s record breaking season for the U’s, Sam Smith has slowly settled into the new role up top for his new club. The 23-year-old signed from Reading in the summer and has bagged eight goals so far for the amber and blacks.

Cambridge smith.jpg

A product of the Royals’ youth set up, Smith has impressed in loan spells for Cheltenham, Tranmere and Cambridge before signing permanently for the latter. With 38 goals in just 151 games, his efficiency in front of goal is what inspired Bonner to sign him upon his release from Berkshire and he will be looking to extend his form on Saturday.   

Head to Head

City were in tremdous form when they achieved the double over Cambridge last season. The Grecians are on a decent run against Saturday’s adversaries with eight wins in the last ten in all competitions.

The one loss through, was Cambridge’s 4-0 demolitions of Matt Taylor’s men at the Abbey Stadium in the 2019/20 season.

But who can forget our most famous encounter with the U’s as Rob Edwards headed Exeter back into the Football League in 2008? Would have been rude not to bring it up.

Cambridge wins: 28

Draws: 12

Exeter wins: 20

Recent encounters

Cambridge United 1 Exeter City 4 | Sky Bet League Two | Abbey Stadium | April 10, 2021

There were four different goal scorers against the league leaders in an impressive afternoon in Cambridgeshire.

Exeter City 2 Cambridge United 0 | League Two | St James Park | October 3, 2020

Matt Jay and Joel Randall combined to give City all three points earlier this season.

Exeter City 2 Cambridge United 0 | League Two | St James Park | January 11, 2020

City made it nine unbeaten as Randell Williams and Ryan Bowman found the target.

And Finally

In 1962/63 season Cambridge United and City were battling it out for the Southern League title. Cambridge City pipped the U’s to the title that year after winning a crucial derby 2-1 in front of 11,574 fans, almost 13x the average attendance of Southern League games as of pre-covid numbers.


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