Sky Bet League 2, Abbey Stadium, Saturday 9th August, 3:00pm kick-off
The Abbey Stadium will be full of anticipation on Saturday as Cambridge United host their first Football League fixture in nine years. This is the day U’s fans have been looking forward to all summer, and the atmosphere is sure to be electric. Argyle will be cursing their luck to be playing the newly promoted side so early in the season, when spirits are bound to be high, but will be trying their hardest to be party-poopers. Pilgrims’ manager John Sheridan has set very high expectations for the year ahead and will be looking to the season off to a good start here.
Cambridge last time out vs Tottenham Hotspur (W 2-1)
Chris Dunn, Richard Tait, Josh Coulson, Tom Bonner, Greg Taylor, Tom Champion, Issaga Diallo, Ryan Donaldson, Harrison Dunk, Adam Cunnington, Kwesi Appiah
Argyle last time out vs Weston Super Mare (W 1-2)
James Bittner, Jake Miller, Curtis Nelson (captain), Carl McHugh, Ben Purrington, River Allen, Tyler Harvey, Ollie Norburn, Nathan Thomas, Reuben Reid, Marvin Morgan.
Cambridge – 7/5
Draw – 9/4
Argyle – 19/10
This is the first time the two teams have met in any competition since 1999
A closer look at Cambridge…
Richard Money’s side have had a strong pre-season, with victories over MK Dons and a young Tottenham side during the summer. They shouldn’t find the step up to League 2 that difficult as the gulf in class between the two leagues seems to be getting smaller all the time. The loss of Luke Berry will be hard to replace for Cambridge, with the goal scoring midfielder moving on to pastures new in the summer.
Money likes his sides to be well well-drilled, and they will be looking to get into the visitors’ faces from the start. The U’s look to be capable of doing well in this league and will be chomping at the bit to get a good start to their first Football League season in nine years. Last season their home form was a big part to their promotion push – going 12 home league games unbeaten from the start of the campaign. If they can make the Abbey Stadium the fortress it was last season victory could be achievable here.
Keep an eye on…
Appiah makes a return to Cambridge on loan this season after a prolific spell in 2013. With 10 goals in 14 games from September to December he helped the club secure their lead at the top of the table at the time. The striker’s pace will be a real threat, not just to Argyle on Saturday but to many defences throughout the season. The 23 year old has made quite a name for himself in Non-League circles, netting frequently in previous loan spells. A strong pre-season will have boosted the striker’s confidence (including an impressive overhead kick as you can see below) and he will be looking to continue this into the League 2 season, starting this weekend. Appiah may only be at the club until January but he will be looking to prove himself in League 2 before returning to Crystal Palace.
A Closer look at Argyle…
John Sheridan has said that promotion is the aim this season, and the Pilgrims will need to come out of the traps fast to get the momentum going. Pre-season brought with it mixed results; victories over lower league opponents were marred by defeats to both Yeovil and Swansea, but there were definite positives in the performances. If they can just add a little more cutting edge to their game they would be the finished article.
Argyle will be boosted by the news that both Dominic Blizzard and Deane Smalley have been passed fit for the weekend. Both players have had very limited game time in pre-season but are now likely to be included here. With Smalley passed fit Argyle could potentially have eight players making their debut after a busy summer of comings and goings. The new look backline that includes new signings Kelvin Mellor, Carl McHugh and Peter Hartley should see a more defensively frugal Argyle side this campaign. Captain Conor Hourihane was sold to Barnsley over the summer but the overall squad certainly looks stronger on paper this campaign, if the team can perform to it’s potential the playoffs should be within reach.
Keep an eye on…
It took just two games for Lewis Alessandra to make a name for himself in a green shirt last year after his move from Morecambe; a screamer in the Capital One Cup against Birmingham really made people take notice of the frontman. From there he went from strength to strength and formed a strong partnership with fellow striker Reuben Reid. He is most effective used as an out and out striker rather than in the wide positions, where he has been used previously on occasion. The added freedom of a central role really helps the ex-Oldham man to excel with his movement and skill. His combination play with both Reuben Reid and Jason Banton could be crucial if the visitors are to get anything from this one.
With Cambridge fans sure to be in high spirits and over 1000 Green Army rumoured to be making the trip the Abbey Stadium should be rocking on Saturday afternoon. With both teams looking to play good flowing football it could be one of the better matches in League 2 this weekend. The two frontmen will want to make their mark on this one and a goal apiece from both Reuben Reid and Kwesi Appiah will see a stalemate here.
Cambridge United 1 – 1 Plymouth Argyle