Rejoice! Fans are back at the Abbey for League football after almost nine months. Who will Bonner pick to entertain us, and will Mansfield put up much of a fight? Read on…
Two matches ago a draw felt like a defeat. Last time out a draw felt like a victory (kind of). Football’s got a funny way of playing with your emotions like that. For most of us, the fact we’ve only been able to watch the U’s from the comfort of our living rooms has been one of the toughest things about this lockdown. Even though the match day experience is going to be quite different from what it was previously, most of us are itching to get back to the Abbey and watch some live football. Plus, plus, we get to see Wes Hoolahan, in our black & amber shirt, on the Abbey pitch. A genuine international class footballer, playing for us, in person.
There’ll be 2,000 fans at the Abbey tomorrow night, the maximum number allowed at any sporting event. United have planned and prepared for this, having successfully hosted a test event against Fulham in the EFL Trophy earlier in the season. The remaining 500 or so tickets available after season ticket holders took theirs sold out in just 45 minutes on Monday morning. There’s an excitement about the Abbey unseen since perhaps the visit of Man United in 2015.
One thing that will be different for sure, is the chirpy call of ‘fanzine! get yer fanzine!‘ won’t be heard along the wall on Newmarket Road, the UTAS sellers safely confined to their respective positions in the Habbin, NRE and Main Stand. But –
you can order Issue 5 of UTAS online below, and we’ll ship one out to you as soon as they’re back from the printers.
Bonner has a pretty much full-strength side to choose from, Liam O’Neil the only long-term exception. We don’t expect to see too many changes from how we started at Cheltenham (although Tom Knowles won’t be on the bench following his move to Yeovil), the main headache for Bonz as always being one up top with Wes in the hole, or Ironside as part of a front two alongside Mullin.
Expected U’s Line-Up: Mitov, Knoyle, Taylor, Cundy, Dunk, Hannant, Boateng, Digby, Iredale, Hoolahan, Mullin
The usual suspects for United then, you can’t say any of the back four should be dropped and the midfield picks itself. Obviously Dunk and Iredale could swap positions at any time (and likely will), and Ironside can feel aggrieved at being left out, but should feature at some point.
Who’s Their Player to Watch? George Lapslie – a recent signing from Charlton on loan, he’s made 40 appearances for the London side but aged 23 finds himself heading North in search of a regular spot.
Who’s In The Dugout? Son of a legendary gaffer, bit of a twat. Sound familiar? No it’s not Darren Ferguson but Nigel Clough, the former Liverpool, Man City and Burton midfielder now trying to emulate his father by leading a Midlands team to European Cup glory. He’s got a way to go, mind. Clough’s been in charge at Field Mill for a month now, replacing Graham Coughlan and our old mate Joe Dunne. We’ve had run ins with him before, notably during his time as Burton manager in our Conference days.
What’s Their Recent Form Like? P5, W1, D3, L1, Scored 5, Conceded 5
Any Ex-United Players? George Maris. Not the Luke Berry replacement we hoped for, Maris showed promise for about half a season and was courted by Rotherham in the Championship. Sadly the move fell through after a medical, and George returned to United where he moped his way through last season with all the verve of a condemned prisoner.
Last Time Out: Cambridge United 2-3 Mansfield, 1 January 2020
Goals from Harvey Knibbs and Greg Taylor gave the U’s a 2-1 lead at half-time, before Nicky Maynard completed his hat-trick to ensure another defeat for the U’s. Boss Colin Calderwood wouldn’t last the month.
From The Archives: Cambridge United 7-2 Mansfield 20 March 1999.
Those of you who’ve been reading us for a while now will know just how highly we regard Roy McFarland’s 98/99 promotion team, and this was them at their scintillating finest, demolishing Mansfield at The Abbey. John Taylor equalled Alan Biley’s scoring record, Martin Butler scored a hat-trick, Trevor Benjamin finished with a delightful chip, Neil Mustoe added a long-range wonder-goal and Villa loanee Richard Walker completed the rout. (As an aside, we were five points clear of eventual champions Brentford at this point, with a game in hand. Even at our best, we’re still Cambridge United and we’ll still conspire to fuck things up somehow).
UTAS Moosenet Tip: United 7-2, Mullin hat-trick.