BIG MATCH PREVIEW – ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
Mansfield Town will try to make it six games unbeaten as they head to face a resurgent Cambridge United side who, after a bad start to the season, are just one point and one place outside the play-offs.
But Stags are in decent form themselves defensively, not having conceded a goal now for 377 minutes of football and Sheffield Wednesday loanee keeper Jake Kean still to let a goal past him after four games between the posts.
However, boss Steve Evans will be looking for a bit more creativity from midfield and better finishing.
Last weekend Stags drew 0-0 in the big derby at Notts County while Cambridge were held by the same scoreline at home to Blackpool.
The U’s are unbeaten in six League Two outings and pushed Leeds United all the way in an FA Cup tie before losing 2-1 on 9th January.
Click HERE to read a Notts County v Mansfield Town match analysis
Click HERE to see video action from Stags’ game at Notts
Click HERE to see video action from Cambridge v Blackpool
STAGS TEAM NEWS
Only defender George Taft is missing from players likely to be in the frame for Saturday’s trip and boss Steve Evans is glued to his phone trying to boost those numbers even further before Saturday.
He has a wealth of possibilities to choose from with nine fringe players all staking a claim in the reserves’ 2-1 win over Notts County on Tuesday.
But there are unlikely to be many changes from the side that drew 0-0 at Notts last weekend.
POSSIBLE STAGS STARTING XI (4-1-3-2)
Kean, White, Pearce, Bennett, Benning, Collins, Whiteman, Byrom, Hamilton, Arquin, Green.
CAMBRIDGE TEAM NEWS
Brad Halliday is likely to return at right-back after missing the last three games with a knee injury.
Greg Taylor filled in at right-back against Blackpool in the goalless draw at home on Saturday, but came off at half time with a groin injury.
Midfielder Paul Lewis could be in contention to make his debut after signing from Macclesfield last Friday – he was an unused substitute in the goalless draw at home to Blackpool on Saturday, but had only had a day of training with the team.
Left-winger Harrison Dunk is likely to be ruled out with injury. He missed the Blackpool game and had played through the pain barrier in the previous few games.
Medy Elito (knee) and Adam McGurk (thigh) will also be out, while Barry Corr has suffered a thigh problem as he tries to come back from a knee injury which has kept him out since last January.
POSSIBLE CAMBRIDGE STARTING XI
Norris (GK), Halliday (RB), Carroll (LB), Legge (CB), Roberts (CB), Dunne (CDM), Newton (CM), Mingoia (LW), Maris (RW), Berry (CAM), Ikpeazu (CF).
KEY BATTLE: UCHE IKPEAZU v KRYSTIAN PEARCE
Striker Uche Ikpeazu is the United player most capable of giving Mansfield a torrid time on Saturday.
After finding full fitness, he has been arguably the catalyst for the turn in fortunes.
Ikpeazu has proved an absolute menace for opposition defences not just with his sheer bulk, but his pace and no lack of skill as well.
So, after a physical afternoon at Notts County last weekend, there will be no let-up for centre halves Krystian Pearce and Rhys Bennett at Cambridge on Saturday.
Click HERE to see 2016 video of the talents of Uche Ikpeazu
CAMBRIDGE ONE TO WATCH: LUKE BERRY
Mansfield will need to keep an eye on Luke Berry, who plays just off Uche Ikpeazu.
He has transformed from being an attacking midfielder to a second striker and has benefited from the time and space Ikpeazu provides from often being marked by at least two defenders at a time.
As a result Berry is United’s top scorer with 15 goals this season, so he will need to be closely monitored.
OPPOSITION MANAGER: SHAUN DERRY
United’s board decided to stick by Shaun Derry after a terrible start to the season and he is now rewarding their faith in him.
There never seemed to be the issue of ‘losing the changing room’ judging from the atmosphere at the training ground and the players are now consequently now repaying his faith in them.
Ex-Notts County boss Derry has got the vast majority of fans back onside after a tough spell and the fact he has been allowed to bring in players on seriously long-term contracts (Paul Lewis, three-and-a-half year deal from Macclesfield; Jake Carroll, two-and-a-half year deal from Hartlepool) during the January transfer window says it all.
CAMBRIDGE SEASON SO FAR
The phrase ‘game of two halves’ is the best way to sum up United’s season so far.
Expectations were reasonably high pre-season after a promising end to the last campaign where United put a good run together before only just missing out on the play-offs.
But they suffered their worst start to a season in the Football League after taking just three points from their first eight games.
However, United’s board kept faith with Shaun Derry and since registering their first league win at Newport at the end of September, they have got their act together and are now up to eighth in the table.
LAST MEETING AT THE ABBEY
Saturday, 19th December 2019: Cambridge United 1, Mansfield Town 1
Back in December 2019 Mansfield Town extended their unbeaten run to three matches after earning a 1-1 draw at Cambridge United and move into the top seven.
Adam Chapman’s first goal since returning to the club in May was cancelled out by a heavily-deflected Ryan Donaldson effort in the first half.
Click HERE to read the match report
GROUND AND TICKETS
To get to the Abbey Stadium (Postcode CB5 8LN), take the A1 and A14 to Cambridge, heading towards Newmarket.
Turn off onto the B1047 sign posted for Cambridge Airport. At the top of the slip road turn right towards Fen Ditton.
Go through Fen Ditton until you reach a T-Junction, where at the traffic lights you turn right into Newmarket Road.
Go straight across the roundabout (there is a McDonalds on one corner) and you will come to Abbey Stadium on your left hand side.
There is no parking available for away fans at the ground, but there is some parking on the streets surrounding the stadium.
Mansfield have been allocated over 600 tickets in the South Stand, available from Stags ticket office on Quarry Lane in person, or over the phone by calling 01623 482 482.
Supporters will also be able to purchase tickets on the day, directly from Cambridge United, but all tickets will be subject to a £2 increase on the day.
Advance ticket prices for the fixture at the Abbey Stadium are Adults £20, Concessions (64+, student, young adult (18-21) £15, U18s £10, and U5s free.
Disabled supporters and their carers are eligible to purchase tickets in the relevant age-related category with a free carer ticket if those supporters receive the middle or higher rate of Disability Living Allowance.
Wheelchair users will be required to pay £15, with a carer free of charge. Wheelchair users will need to purchase tickets in advance from Cambridge United by calling 01223 566 500.
Stags’ fans can arrange to collect their tickets from Cambridge United by informing the ticket office when purchasing.
Tickets will go off-sale at 4pm on Friday.
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