Cambridge United v Stevenage: Our hosts are on the verge of promotion to the third tier for the first time since 2002. Let's make them wait a little longer...
Photo: "Abbey Stadium, Cambridge United's home" by Hugh Venables is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Our hosts are on the cusp of promotion to the third tier for the first time since 2002. The Us know that a win against us will see them over that line. But could we make them wait a little longer? It’d be quite nice to leave them hanging for a bit – if our recent form didn’t make it so unlikely. After a third straight defeat during the week, it makes you wonder if Boro’ lads are already making a beeline for the beach. It’s not like we can go to Magaluf this summer…

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The Details: Cambridge United v Stevenage

Where’s the game?

Up to the Abbey we go; a short hop up the A1 and A10. The away end there is, of course, much closer to us than it is to the pitch.

Can I watch Cambridge United v Stevenage?

iFollow, you follow, we all follow. You don’t have to sit in the dark, wondering what’s going on up at the Abbey this weekend. Well, you can sit in the dark. But you can beam the live action direct onto your screen with an iFollow Match Pass. It’s a tenner and it’ll be terribly worthwhile if Boro’ can delay the Us’ promotion party. If we can’t, then sorry – no refunds.

How is Boro’s form looking at the moment?

So, what’s the craic with our recent run lads? It’s now three straight defeats – including a couple indoors in which we looked as if we were back to our cows-arse-and-banjo phase. It’s looking unlikely that we’ll reach 40 goals for the season, with our goal difference back in the red after a rare venture into positive numbers. But we do at least go into this match with a better defensive record than our hosts. And we should come out of it that way too.

… and how are the Us doing right now?

Look, the bottom line is that our hosts are up if they win this. And that should tell you what you need to know about the shape they’re in; 19 points from a possible 24 bringing ’em to within an inch of League One. No team has a better record on the road. It’s not relevant – although it’s nice to know. At home, 38 points from 21 games is only three points off where the league’s best (Morecambe) currently sit.

It’s not all doom and gloom. The Us have scored in each of their last 10 matches. At the same time, however, most of their guests this season have managed to find the back of the net. And we did it four times there last season, so how hard can it be?

Our story with Cambridge United so far

From almost nowhere, our recent record against the Us has become impeccable – despite faffing around at the wrong end of the league. We can look back on two wins from two; the first of which came at the Abbey last January when we inexplicably put four goals past out hosts without reply. Add our narrow win at home just after Christmas and it means that we now sit level-pegging on 11 wins each from 27 past encounters.

The Us did a lot of damage to our side of that head-to-head record before our 1-1 draw at the Lamex in September 2019. Up until that point, we were on a very bad run; five games without a goal and four successive defeats for good measure. It’d become a real long time since we recorded back-to-back wins against them; a 4-1 win at home on New Year’s Day 2010 and a 3-2 win nearly five years later in December 2014 the last time it happened.

Can we make up for lost time with a third straight win against them?

Last Time Out: Stevenage 1-0 Cambridge United, 29 December 2020

Who’s the referee in charge?

Ross Joyce.

You know – we’ve always loved that Mr Joyce. He commands the pitch with real panache; the man in the middle you’d grow up wanting to be. And our verdict has nothing to do with the fact that, last time we met, he oversaw our 4-0 win at the Abbey last season. And that more than made up for the previous five encounters in which we lost three, then drew the two that followed. We must invite him back to the Lamex sometime soon…

It’s also total poppycock that we were going to pan Mr Joyce for his record this campaign. This being his 31st game of the season in itself is a measure of the man. The 126 yellows handed out, however, is just a reflection of his watertight application of the laws. Come on – 4.2 bookings per game is totally reasonable. He’s more than welcome to add to his four red cards too… as long as he’s waving it in the direction of a home player.

That’d make up for the red the Us bought in our 2009 playoff semi-final first leg.

Last Time Out: Cambridge United 0-4 Stevenage, 18 January 2020

Cambridge United v Stevenage: Our verdict?

Can you keep a secret? Good – here it is. We think the Us will get the points they need to be promoted this weekend. You can’t predict shock results. But you can go with what your form is telling you. And ours ain’t telling us anything we want to hear: 2-0 home win.

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