Bank Holiday Weekend Double Header: A Preview

EASTER BANK HOLIDAY FIXTURES PREVIEW

Ah yes, the Easter bank holiday weekend – that magical time of the season during where dreams of promotion can be crushed and nightmares of relegation can be realised. Luckily, if you’re a Cambridge United fan, you won’t need to worry about that, as the U’s currently sit about as mid-table as can be.

Although this year’s double header won’t quite have the glitz and glamour of 2016, when we were able to spend a sun-kissed weekend in a Bristolian beer garden before returning to the Abbey for a ‘varsity derby’ with Oxford as (then) U’s manager Shaun Derry looked to continue an unlikely charge towards the play-offs, it’s always a laugh, isn’t it? So join UTAS as we take you through the upcoming fixtures against Crawley and Morecambe.

THE TEAM NEWS

Joe Dunne revealed in his Thursday press conference that Piero Mingoia and Barry Corr would be available again for selection, having played their part in a friendly match with some team from up the A1 during the week. Dunne also confirmed that it was nothing more sinister than tactical reasons which saw Billy Waters and Medy Elito omitted from the starting line-up, and so the U’s will have a clean bill of health for the first time under the interim charge of the bobble-hat wearing Irishman.

Having our little midfield maestro and talismanic centre-forward back in action will be a welcome boost for the U’s boss, who hinted that he was ready to make a series of changes in order to develop some of those members of the squad who have been on the fringes in recent weeks and months. Perhaps a change in personnel could also see a change in shape, as the midfield diamond formation, which has been employed for huge parts of the season to date, has come in for increasing levels of criticism, especially following the recent home defeat at the hands of Phil Brown’s Swindon Town.

THE OPPOSITION

CRAWLEY TOWN

Harry Kewell’s Crawley Town will come into Good Friday’s match at The Abbey on poor recent form, having not won in five, and conceded thirteen goals since they last tasted victory, including shipping five last time out against a Mo Eisa inspired Cheltenham Town side.

Despite recent results going against the Red Devils, there won’t be many fans of the Sussex club who will be unhappy with how their side has fared overall this season. A torrid start to the season saw Crawley rock bottom of the Football League, before steady improvement in the winter months left them among the chasing pack for a League Two play-off place, although the amorementioned recent slump has seen them fall out of contention.

Town currently sit in 13th place in the league – just one place, and two points above ourselves. They’re currently ten points outside the top seven, having played a game more than big-spending Mansfield Town, who have played a game less, but like ourselves, are well away from any fears of relegation which, at the start of the season, looked like a realistic prospect for Kewell’s men. Unsurprisingly, they’ve scored more goals this season than we have (who hasn’t?), and they largely have the impact of Karlan Ahearne-Grant to thank for this, who has hit eight goals since joining on loan from Charlton in January. U’s fans may remember that Ahearne-Grant had a rather more unsuccessful, albeit brief, spell in CB5 back in the 2015/16, typical, eh?

MORECAMBE

Perennial fourth tier strugglers Morecambe look to be clinging on again for yet another season in the Football League. Jim Bentley is consistently provided with the lowest budget in the league, below even Accrington, yet since his appointment as manager in 2011 he has managed to keep the Lancashire outfit largely safe from fears of the drop, although this season has perhaps been slightly more uncomfortable than previous campaigns in that regard. The Shrimps’ tend to come out of the blocks early in the season, and usually find themselves among the front runners throughout August and September, before a slump sees them dragged into the lower reaches of the table, with an upturn in fortunes just after Christmas seeing them over the line. However, during 2017/18, that mid-season slump lasted perhaps a few weeks too long, and it is only since an unbelievable 4-2 victory away at Wycombe, combined with an unbeaten run of four matches in recent weeks, that Morecambe and Bentley appear to have repeated the trick and against all odds will live to fight another day, so to speak.

Our trip to the Globe Arena on Easter Monday will provide an entirely different test to the one posed by Crawley Town on Good Friday. For one, they’ve been far more solid at the back in recent weeks, having conceded only three goals throughout March so far, with two of those coming against Accrington and Exeter sides who find themselves in the thick of an automatic promotion hunt. In fact, Bentley’s men boast the best defensive record in the bottom half of the division, and so it is largely due to their rearguard action that they don’t find themselves planning trips to Barrow and Guiseley next season, especially given they’ve only found the net on thirty-seven occasions, fewer than once a match.

By now, we’ve played Morecambe more than enough times since our return to the Football League in 2014 to know the man we have to look out for in our encounters with them: the wily old fox that is Kevin Ellison.  He really is Morecambe’s talisman, and their go-to man for goals, having bulged the onion bag ten times this season so far, including an absolute thunderbolt of a volley in the previously mentioned triumph over Wycombe, and you can bet that this particular pantomime villain will be desperate to add another one to his tally against a club he’s enjoyed, let’s say, some ‘friendly’ banter with over the years.

THE BETTING

It’s been a while since we’ve provided you with some #ShitTips, bet you’ve missed them, haven’t you? Well, no better place to start again than on such an action packed weekend. But this time, we’ll only be looking to the U’s fixtures to turn our cash into some extra beer tokens to celebrate the bank holiday in style.

It’s also been a little while since we’ve won a game. Fear not, though, the U’s are good at home (mostly), and although Crawley are reasonable on their travels, we fancy the U’s to take advantage of their horrendous recent defensive record and take all three points in this one, so we’ll be backing CAMBRIDGE UNITED TO WIN in the MATCH RESULT market, which is currently priced up at a very inviting looking 11/10. In fact, we’re really pretty confident for this one, our recent form against Crawley has been excellent, and we’ve won all of our last three encounters with them, so we’ll make this our NAP for the weekend.

The curse of the former player is one that seems to strike us all too often, and it seems especially likely when we face one in as red-hot form as the previously discussed Karlan Ahearne-Grant. He’s currently priced at 9/5 to come back to haunt the U’s and SCORE AT ANY TIME during the match, which is surely worth a punt for anyone who, like us, tends to be a bit pessimistic when it comes to these things.

We mentioned about Morecambe’s awful goal-scoring record, and having seen David Forde’s outstanding performance in the U’s goal away at Carlisle, we’re pretty confident we’ll be able to keep Ellison & co out on Easter Monday. Therefore, we’ll be going with CAMBRIDGE TO KEEP A CLEAN SHEET, currently priced up at 2/1 with SkyBet, which is worth a tenner of anybody’s money.

Tell you what, how’s this for a bit of Easter cheer? The U’s to complete a bank-holiday double, and prevail over both Crawley AND Morecambe is nearly 5/1, meaning that a £10 stake would give you nearly £50 profit. You know what they say about wins, don’t you? They’re like London buses. You wait fucking ages for one, then two come along at once. GET. ON.

UNDER THE ABBEY STAND #4

We’ll be releasing UTAS #4 on Wednesday 4th April. During the show, as usual, we’ll be discussing the recent fixture against Carlisle, as well as the goings on over the Easter weekend, and also look ahead to a couple of tasty looking match-ups against Exeter City and Stevenage. Got a question or a talking point you’d love us to discuss? We love hearing from you, our listeners, and you can get in touch with us on twitter or Instagram (@AbbeyStandPod for both), by email (abbeystandpod@gmail.com), or you can post on the UTAS thread on the Cambridge United message board (http://cambridgeunitedfc.proboards.com/board/6/cambridge-united).

You can listen to our first three episodes and subscribe to the pod at: https://audioboom.com/channels/4947056

We can’t thank you enough for all your support so far. We’re really enjoying making UTAS for you. Do us a favour, if you like the show, drop us a review and share us with your pals. UP THE U’S x

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