Scout File: Cambridge United (A)

Credit Graham Burrell

Well what a day, all the highs and lows of deadline day are over and we are off to Cambridge at the weekend, writes Tom Morton.

The U’s have had a mixed start to the season. Away they seem to have struggled, racking up two losses and a draw. But at home, they are three for three making this their best home start for several years. One thing they are doing at home is scoring goals with an xG of 1.88. They’ve put away seven so far, although four of them came in a thrilling encounter with Burton last weekend (7 goals, 6 yellows and a red).

Whatever the fans’ opinion on our transfer window, Cambridge were not up late last night. Club socials have been silent on transfers since the end of July and they have done very little business. Left-back Jack Iredale, who had been a regular for the club for several seasons, turned down a contract and jumped to Bolton. They have brought in Brandon Haunstrup as a like-for-like but seem to instead have opted to reshuffle their existing back line.

It’s worth reminding everyone; Cambridge away was our sixth game last season & their fourth home game, with them also unbeaten at the Abbey stadium. We proceeded to thrash them 5-1 with a clinical performance that saw a brace of goals from Scully as well as contributions from Adelekun, Fiorini and McGrandles. 

In some ways that is a bittersweet thing to write. All of those players are now gone, with Scully being the final out late last night. 

Tactics

cambridge lineup 2022

Cambridge line up 4-2-3-1. Expect them to make strong use of those wingers but also look out for the long ball into the edge of the box. They like to run hard at the line and then loop a cross-field ball from just inside your half right into the box. It’s clearly a move they’ve practised a lot and our centre-back pairing will need to keep a watchful eye on the darting runs.

At the back they look a little disorganised. Yes, the players are all tenured but some are playing in new positions and it is showing, many of their conceded goals this season are coming from basic errors. This is usually where I write that it’s prime territory for Scully to exploit, I assume it will now be for Diamond and Garrick (once he returns). Based on his mid-week performance, Diamond certainly looks like someone who can ease the hurt of losing last season’s top scorer.

Key Players

Credit Graham Burrell

Up front Joe Ironside is their target man, and he scored the only goal in their visit to the bank last season. But for me the danger is Sam Smith on the wing. He looked dangerous last season and has already racked up four goals this season (including a hat-trick last weekend).

At the back keep an eye out for Harrison Dunk. A decent defender (who has switched from CB to LB this season) who has been with the U’s for a ridiculously long time, having joined in 2011 when the club where in what was then the conference premier.

We go into the weekend with some positives and some reservations; this squad has a way to go and Cambridge are solid performers at home so far. On the flip side, that didn’t deter us last year and we have a strong squad (no matter what the detractors say, it’s a lot stronger than last year!) to draw from. I think almost all of the forward positions on the pitch are now competitive with the exception of Hopper and we have some competition across the back four as well. 

Hopefully, Saturday see’s us kick on a bit; I would be happy with a strong performance and comfortable away win, rather than a goal fest like last year. It will be a tough ask but one I think we can rise to.