This week, the U’s take a break from their charge towards the League 2 title for a less than tantalizing first round tie against Shrewsbury Town. The merits of a cup run are there to be discussed – should we just be concentrating on the league, especially in an already congested fixture schedule? Is there a benefit to keeping as much of the squad fresh for crucial league games? Or is the feeling of cup ties against ‘the big boys’ simply irreplaceable, regardless of fans’ attendance or not?
That’s one for another time. One thing that is undoubtable is we have had some fantastic times in this competition. Read UTAS’ favourites below.
The cup draw is always much-anticipated, and more often than not it throws up bland, beige ties such as this. In truth, it’s actually the worst of both worlds: there’s nothing glamorous about playing Shrewsbury (no offence), but they’re also going to provide a relatively stern test if we really hope to progress.
I say ‘tough test’… Shrewsbury currently find themselves sitting 22nd in League 2, with just the 1 win and 7 goals scored. For context, as I’m sure you’ll have realised, that’s 6 less than Paul Mullin alone, and only 1 more than Joe Ironside.
Regardless, they are still opposition from the league above. And despite two seasons finishing in the bottom half, three seasons ago they finished 3rd and only lost out in the play-off final. Their last foray at our level, they finished 2nd and went straight back up. And as we know, we often see teams over perform their lowly league positions in the cup, uninhibited by pressures of relegation and the like.
Expected U’s line-up: Mitov; Knoyle, Cundy, Darling, Dunk; Hannant, Taylor, Boateng, Iredale; Mullin, Ironside
The second half performance against Salford on Tuesday was a completely different team from the first, and we’re expected Bonz to try and latch onto that performance and run with it on Saturday. In that vein, we’re expecting Mullin back into the side to partner Ironside and prove a real physical threat to what league form has shown is a shaky defence.
In the middle, with May and Digby still being nursed, we’d expect Taylor to continue as a holding midfielder alongside Boateng, who is just getting better and better. On the whole, we’re expecting Bonner to go by the adage that a settled team is a winning team.
Who’s their player to watch? Charlie Daniels
In the league – get this – not a single Shrewsbury player has scored more than one goal so far this season. So maybe ex-Hibs forward Jason Cummings or ex-pretty much every club striker Leon Clarke could be threatening, but we’re going to go with Daniels, of Bournemouth Premier League fame just last season. Granted, he only made two appearances last season, but this is still a player most will remember for that screamer against City and part of a solid back line for the Cherries. At 34, this could be a bit below his level, and we might see that class on Saturday.
Who’s in the dugout? Sam Ricketts
At 39, for most clubs Sam Ricketts would be considered young. But he’s ancient by our standards. Once a player at Wolves and Hull, after a decent but short spell at Wrexham, Ricketts took the job at Shrewsbury and is yet to make a real impression. His win rate is just under 29%, and his biggest success is that cup comeback against Liverpool last season. Maybe this is just his competition?
What’s their recent form like? Last 5: Won 0, Drawn 1, Lost 4. Scored 3, Conceded 10.
Any ex-United players?
Short-term loanee Aaron Pierre is best remembered at United for scoring a last-minute winner at St Albans in the FA Trophy, back in our 13/14 promotion winning season. After a spell at Wycombe and returning to haunt The Abbey many times, he has become a bit of a player.
Last time out:
7th March 2015: Shrewsbury Town 1-1 Cambridge United (Kaikai)
It took a last minute Sullay Kaikai equaliser to take a point at the New Meadow in our first season back in League 2. Jordan Slew and Mendez-Laing both feature, with Chris Dunn selected against now Premier League Will Norris. Not a bad point for the 17th placed U’s.
From the archives:
18th April 1991: Shrewsbury Town 1-2 Cambridge United (Claridge 2)
Dropping Dion Dublin must have been like dropping Paul Mullin, but his replacement Steve Claridge ensured the U’s left with the points during this classic encounter.
UTAS Moosenet Tip: United 2-0, Ironside