With Barnet, Rushden or even Hitchin now just dots in our rear-view mirror, it’s up to the Us to be our festive derby partners. They’re not our first choice, you realise. To be honest, though, it’s a long time since the days of those Boxing Day/New Year Day double-headers that used to get us excited. In fact, the last one may well actually be our Christmas battles against Cambridge United during the 2009-10 season. Now, the EFL seems less content than the Conference to throw in a ‘local’ clash at this time of year.
Of course, we might get our festive double-headers back next season if we don’t buck up our ideas fast. Who said relegation from the Football League was all bad, eh? And, you’d think we’ll all be back in the ground this time next year. But, on balance, we’d prefer to be still a League side too. A point at Cheltenham Town on Boxing Day isn’t such a bad effort with that in mind. As ever, the spotlight is now on Alex Revell’s Boro’ to build on that. The problem is we never seem to do that after a positive result.
The Details: Stevenage v Cambridge United
Where’s the game?
It’s at the Lamex.
Can I watch Stevenage v Cambridge United?
If Santa stuck a cheeky little tenner in your stocking this Christmas, you can use it to get an iFollow Match Pass. After all, Tier 4 restrictions mean you can’t turn up at the stadium and get behind the team sadly. It’s part of the reason why kick-off time is now 5pm – and not 7pm or whatever it would’ve been. You won’t want to tune in two hours late. Unless it doesn’t go our way. In which case you might like the idea of seeing nothing happening…
How is Boro’s form looking at the moment?
Take out the 4-0 shambles at Carlisle United and our recent form isn’t exactly rubbish. It’s three draws and a win from the last five. Mind you, expand our form out over the last eight games and it looks a lot less positive; seven points from a possible 24 giving you a superb reason why we’re at risk of propping up the Football League for a second new year on the trot. We’ve learned our lessons, don’t you know.
And it doesn’t help when you fail to score in nearly two-thirds of your home matches.
… and how are the Us doing right now?
For the Us, the 2020-1 campaign started with a bang. But they come into this meeting with just one more point that us from their last eight outings. In fact, their 2-1 Boxing Day win at home to Leyton Orient lifted them above us in the form table. In the last month, the Us lost to Oldham at home and Bradford on the road; drawing at home with Barrow too. You don’t need a calculator to work out that all three sides are down in the lower reaches with us.
If we can’t match any of those three, it’s going to be a long second half of the season.
In terms of the finer points, we’re up against a Us side with the third best attack and third best defence in the division. Even so, they’ve conceded at least one goal in each of their last 10 matches and just a third of their total points have come on the road. So, there’s a little bit of light. The first goal is as important as ever, though. The Us have taken the lead 13 times in the league this season. Just four times have they conceded an equaliser.
Our story with Cambridge United so far
We won’t bore you with the full details. After all, we go way back with the Us and we can both say we’ve landed some heavy blows. In all, there have been 26 meetings: 10 wins for Boro’ and 11 for them. Our 4-0 win at their gaff back in January actually ended a run of seven without a win for us against them. And that’s a run that also included five games in a row where we didn’t even score.
So, let’s take a quick look at the festive meetings between us. The Us came to the Lamex on Boxing Day 2016 and won 2-1. Before that, there’s the 2009-10 double-header; one in which Boro’ scored seven goals in two games to leave the Us in no doubt about how we’d felt about our playoff semi-final disaster earlier that year. There was also a double-header way back in 2005-6, with both sides recording a home win. We’d say, therefore, we’re due three points this time around. If only it worked like that…
Who’s the referee in charge?
The EFL are keeping their cards close to their chest on ref appointments this Christmas. So, by the time we find out, we’ll have long smashed the ‘Publish’ button and gone
to the pub to see our mates out looking for the left-over Christmas beers.
Stevenage v Cambridge United: Our verdict?
After our freak win at their place last season, we reckon the Us are going to be so pumped for this one. Looking back over the history of our encounters, too, it always seems to show that – for each big result – there is an equal and opposite one. While it’s unlikely that we’re going to be on the wrong end of a hiding, just the idea of three points will exorcise some of last season’s demons for them.
Away win. 1-2.