Tag Archives: Cambridge United

The Sort Of Corner I Hate (AFC Wimbledon 3 Cambridge United 0)

Crack open the champagne, break out the cigars, The Anonymous Don has correctly predicted a Dons line-up; albeit at the nth time of asking. Probability suggests it was bound to happen sooner or later, there are only so many combinations of players to positions. Put it this way, give a thousand monkeys a thousand typewriters and you’ll probably get more of them agreeing with Terry than I do in any given preview. Don’t try this experiment with Bromley supporters though… their closed neandethal fists are unable to produce intelligible responses on a standard qwerty keyboard, and in frustration they’ll just end up hurting themselves or those around them. Having said that – i just had to think twice over the spelling of ‘qwerty’…

Before I get onto the game itself, I signed up for the Minithon before the game. Three miles is just about the shortest distance you can run without prospective sponsorees saying ‘Hang on, thats a piece of piss, I do that every morning/lunch/evening before work/school/pub’, and is yet achievable even by those in the advanced stages of pie addiction like myself. I’ve been looking to shed a few pounds prior to my ‘big event’ next year, maybe this will kick start my fitness push. If not it’ll help raise a few quid for the ground fund at very least. And therein lies the point – I would never, ever have dreamt of signing up for something like this if I wasn’t accutely aware I will no longer be a resident of the United Kingdom in six months, and time is running out to Do My Bit. While my impending emigration weighs heavily on my mind, competing in events such as this means I can be assured that wherever in the world I end up I can kick back with a beer, look at the night sky, and know somewhere in this endless Universe of ours, somewhere out there at this very moment, there will be a Wimbledon supporter moaning that they received an unsolicited email publicising the pre-match carvery…

After a quick pint I headed into the KRE, not quite as full as it was for last Thursdays Crawley game but not exactly deserted either… In fact the attendance stood up pretty well considering the deluge we saw in the hours leading up to kick off. I wonder how many got out of work, saw the state of the skies and though ‘Nah, not tonight…’. Mind you. the crowd was comfortably over 3K on an awful evening weatherwise, especially impressive as Cambridge only brought two-hundred odd with them – decent in terms of the division as a whole, but for a so called big club it was a bit ‘meh…’; you’re York’s and your Grimsby’s would do better given the same circumstances. I can only presume the U’s shocking away form had something to do with it.

Still, forced to bunch together under the small section of the away enclosure in the JSS that actually features a roof, they sounded pretty strong and added to a half decent atmosphere in the ground, especially given the decibels were dampened by the heavy downpour. Either that or I’ll have to redraw the graph I created correlating distance from London with ability to talk proper… ‘Martin Lings Tobleroney’? Is he??? And why do they dislike Barrow so much???

Sadly for the visiting supporters, their team could at best be described as ordinary. They worked hard – but thats the bare minimum you should expect of a Conference side. There was no sign of any quality, man for man they were workmanlike but failed to stand out. Normally you get one or two who show a few decent touches and make you think ‘he looks a bit handy…’, but in this Cambridge side there was no-one. I am reluctant to write off a team based on one viewing, but Cambridge’s performance made them look mere mid-table fodder. Having said that, the slickness of the surface placed a strong demand on technical ability, which on the night put a different bias on the differences between the two sides. Presumably this encoraged the Dons to redouble their efforts when picking out passes, as despite the conditions it was pretty much the first time this season I’ve left a game without thinking ‘They were good, but they gave the ball away too easily…’.

In a first period the Dons dominated (despite what the BBC website will have you believe…), there were minus points. In a way it’s a nice ‘negative’ to have, but you would really expect given the number of chances the Dons created that at least one of them would have been taken. Christian Jolley seemed to be at the centre of the better chances, and boy-oh-boy you Tempest-Enders probably don’t realise what a gilt-edged chance he spurned when one on one he blasted straight at Cambrige keeper Brown. I said it was a nice negative because I have absolute faith that the next time Jolley finds himself in that position he will have learnt from this experience. During a half when Wimbledon did everything but score, the performances of our young wide players was a joy to behold. Jolley, Ryan Jackson and Andre Blackman were destroying Cambridge, who had no answer to the pace and close control that accompanied their rampaging runs foward. All three of them floated around the field, while their opponents struggled simply to stay upright. In fact the most effective manner of stopping them (especially Jackson) seemed to be a series of cynical fouls that the referee was quick to clamp down on – no waiting for the second half to show cards here. The visiting supporters chanted they had ‘another crap ref’, high irony to the Dons fans on the one accasion we seemed to ahve found a decent one…

Probably the best chance of the half fell to Sammy Moore. Ricky Wellard drifted forward into a shooting opportunity, yet spurned the opportunity with a sideways ball into Moore, who looked like he might have been crowded out and the chance gone. Presumably to Wellard great relief, Moore was able to spin a shot that bounced off the inside of the post and away, yet so close the Tempest was in full celebration mode while the KRE wondered what the fuss was all about. So good were the Dons I began to doubt they would be able to produce more of the same in the second period… and my mood wasn’t helped when Cambridge came out and created a few chances of their own. Their best effort owed a great deal to the conditions – a shot the otherwise unflappable Sebb Brown got nearly everything behind, only to see it squirm under his body and thankfully stop short of passing over the line.

The Dons quicky got the measure of this more positive approach from the visitors, by now shorn of Yakubu at the back, Fraser Franks replacing him. Franks would go on to be the two goal hero of the night, of course (and for those who have avoided the result prior to reading this match report, I’m sorry for the spoiler…), yet it was the defensive side of the game that most impressed me. One of the pleasant surprises of the season so far is that Franks is fourth choice centre half behind Johnson, Yakubu and Harris – and I’m not sure there is much doubt about that (that isn’t the pleasant surprise by the way… I’m getting to the point, don’t worry…). Yet Franks would walk in to half of the teams in this division, I would imagine Martin Ling would have been extremely envious that he ended the game blanked out by a side playing their second-string defensive partnership. You wonder why Brentford let him go to start with – given game time and full time training, if he applies himself as he has done in the last few months at Wimbledon he looks nailed on to make a decent career for himself in the professional game – yet hindsight is a wonderful tool, there must be an enormous amount of pressure to release anyone who passes through the youth ranks at lower League clubs such as Brentford that isn’t going to make an immediate impact on the first team. And their loss is very much our gain…

Franks first goal was beautiful, firstly because it came at a point when I started to convince myself that despite the continued chances, Cambridge might just escape for a draw. Secondly, it came from a corner, and we all know how ineffective we have been at this particular set piece over the past few years. Sam Hatton drifted the sort of corner I hate into the near post (I much prefer balls hit at pace inswinging across the six yard box as per his delivery for Yakubu;s effort against Bath, but variety is the spice of life and all that…). Kedwell won his header, flicking back towards Franks, unmarked. At this stage you could have forgiven him for panicking and planting his effort into Brown’s midriff, but Franks has a head on him that keeps ticking in the attacking third as well as his defensive home, guiding beyond the stricken keeper and giving the Dons the lead they more than deserved.

A sigh of relief from The Anonymous Don, and before I even had the chance to develop a complex that Cambridge might come back, it was 2-0 and game over. Jackson delivered the ball to the far post, Kedwell came crashing in to bury the ball across the Cambridge goal and into the net – OR SO I THOUGHT – as it turns out Jolley got a much deserved goal by knocking it over the line, yet I only because aware of this after the game had finished. Still, plenty of praise for Keds, who seems to be doing as good a job of laying on strikes for his team mates as scoring himself. Still I’m sure he’ll make it into double figured before too long. The crowd didn’t have too long to settle down before Cambridge hit the bar, a minor moment of threat when the game was all but won.

Still time yet for Fraser Franks to finish the night with a brace, thanks to a piece of instinctive finishing. Sammy Moore laid the ball across to him, with a little too much weight. Certain unnamed strikers who are yet to get on the scoresheet this term might have panicked and blazed wide/over/into next week, but Franks simply slid it into the corner with little fuss – just a really composed piece of finishing. It was icing on the cake, but it wouldn’t have flattered the Dons, even if Sammy Moore had connected properly with a chance in injury time.

It wasn’t enough to return the Dons to the summit of the Conference, Crawley managed to defeat Tamworth on the night, but the Dons stand just a point adrift… Forest Green to come at the weekend and if any of the lads are reading this – no pressure, but more of the same please!

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Second Thoughts… Cambridge United 12.9.09

First off, there will be no further mention by me of Sebb Brown. At least as far as Saturdays performance is concerned. It appears that I am in the minority relating to my opinion of Browns reliability and potential, but hey, I’m not going to apologise for speaking my mind. It was an opinion, thats all, and its good to know I can disagree with the majority of the fanbase… I was starting to think we had developed some kind of mass shared conscience for a second…

The question I should really be dwelling on is whether this was a point gained or two points dropped? We obviously had a few hairy moments, but my overall feeling was Cambridge were there for the taking. Plus after playing Luton and Oxford at home, with Wrexham to come, I wonder how we will fare in the reverse fixtures. Plus we must also take into account (and this is purely my opinion) that we have been playing just as well away as we have at home.

Yes we have only conceded three goals at home in our four games, but going to places like Kettering and Altrincham and coming away with the points may sound simple but in practice is a whole lot harder. Plus coming from two down at Tamworth was no cakewalk. I think we will learn a lot more about our side over the next couple of weeks, where all the games seem winnable (even that Tuesday night trip to Rushden).

Anyway, some match ratings…

Brown    5

Conroy    6

Hussey    6

Gregory    5

Lorraine    7

Johnson    8

Hatton    5

Wellard    5

Kedwell    5

Moore    5

Duncan    5

SUBS

Main    6

Taylor    5

Montague    6

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AFC Wimbledon 0 Cambridge United 0 – A Match Report

I made the mistake of reading the report Sam Elliott wrote in todays NLP before writing this. I normally avoid all reports of the game until I have completed mine, but as the NLP has a wider audience it has to cater for I thought, what the heck! And it was a good job I did, as it appears Sam had read my mind and gone for the ‘Two Leading Scorers Involved In Goalless Draw Shocker’ angle. So I best steer clear of that…

The other angle I was looking at that does deserve comment in this little introduction is the performance of our rookie backup keeper Sebb Brown. As those of you who stuck with me through pre-season will know, I had little faith in Brown during his trial period, and was amazed Terry signed him on a contract. Yet despite having three excellent goalkeepers at the club we did need someone to act as cover, as big Andy Little won’t be fit until December at the earliest and Brown T has made it clear that our promising reserve keeper Jack Turner needs another season or two in the reserves until he gets thrown in at the deep end.

Naturally I was worried about Brown S being trusted with his first start, although there was little choice in the decision. Turner really doesn’t have the experience, and Sebb was presumably signed on a short term contract until Little is back. I would imagine that Brown T saw him as the best available with the money he had left in the budget, after all there were much better keepers who would have been prepared to sit on our bench, albeit for a price…

cambridgeh 002So how did young Sebb get on? He must have done ok, as he kept a clean sheet right? I will answer this question at the end of this match report, which is coming up… well, now.

The visitors created the first opportunity of the game as Robbie Willmott found space in the left channel and fired over from twenty yards. The Dons responded with some crisp passing football which lead to Chris Hussey finding Ricky Wellard in space, and once the promising midfielder had got the ball from under his feet he blasted just over the top corner.

The game was only four minutes old at this stage, and seemed likely to pan out as the script had suggested. Yet an example of the brilliant defending that kept the Dons clean sheet in tact was about to occur. A Cambridge forward to a shot that was blocked, however Brown had reacted to the shot and found himself lying helpless on the floor. Another (unidentified) Cambridge player found the ball at his feet with the whole of the near post to aim at on the right side of the area, yet delayed slightly. As supporters in the John Smiths stand prepared to take a sharp intake of breathe as the ball hit the Dons net, Brett Johnson came out of nowhere to divert the effort away for a corner.

Johnson went on to claim the sponsors Man of the Match award, and rightly so despite some stiff competition from the rest of the back line. I have been very impressed with Johnson since his summer move from Brentford. He complements Paul Lorraine well, and although Lorraine may take the plaudits for being pretty much unbeatable both in the air and on the ground, Johnson is also a rock at the back yet combines this with an excellent football brain that puts him almost in optimum position to clear any danger with minimal fuss time and again.

Cambridge obviously came with a game plan that involved putting pressure on the young keeper, especially at set plays. Unfortunately this also involved a number of occasions when free-kicks were, erm, ‘earned’ by the visitors who had a number of players displaying great fondness for the Kingsmeadow turf. While these came in dangerous positions they were expertly dealt with by a Dons back line intent on protecting their vulnerable custodian.

There was nothing the Dons defence could do seventeen minutes into the half, however, as Brown attacked an overhit long ball before realising it would sail over his head. Danny Crow had the jump on both the retreating Brown and Paul Lorraine, yet after deciding to control the ball before slotting home from an angle he somehow contrived to allow Lorraine back in to challenge, not even winning a corner for his troubles.

cambridgeh 003For the second time in the game the Dons were able to breathe a sigh of relief after Cambridge fluffed their lines, yet both chances came with an element of luck rather than intensive Cambridge pressure (professionally won free kicks disregarded). The Dons showed they wouldn’t be allowing their playoff rivals the run of the game (lets face it, Oxford should ease away with their headstart…) with some consistent pressure for the remainder of the half.

Hussey in particular was causing Cambridge some concern down the left. Yet it was fellow survivor of the Ryman days Sam Hatton who created the next opportunity from this flank, whipping over a deep ball from a freekick that found Kedwell at the far post. Yet the Dons top scorer was given too much to do with a defender in close attendance and could only guide his header over the bar.

A moment later Luke Moore floated a dangerous looking ball towards Derek Duncan that was well intercepted by a Cambridge man and sent out for a corner. The eventual flag kick was part cleared only as far as Wellard, who scuffed a shot that trundled through a crowd of players before bobbling wide of the right post.

The Dons were really turning the screw on the visitors as just seconds later Luke Moore brilliantly blocked an attempted clearance allowing him a run on goal from the left touchline. Moore squared for Hatton waiting at the far post for a simple finish, yet somehow a Cambridge defender was on hand to turn the ball away.

Sam Hatton drifted a freekick right-of-centre wide of the left post later in the half, but it was still the diving ways of certain Cambridge players that was upsetting Terry Brown the most, at one point during injury time he yelled ‘Your just giving them the game!’ towards the official after yet another tame freekick was given the visitors way.

At half time we were treated to the spectacle of a Womble and a Moose firing penalties at each other. I couldn’t tell if it was a European Moose or one of the Eastern Moose that I’m used to seeing on my regular trips to New Hampshire, but either way I didn’t realise they were also natives of Cambridgeshire… I’ll be sure to check out the ‘Brake For Moose’ signs that undoubtedly surround the roads heading towards the Abbey Stadium. Having said that, back in June I wrote this…

As well as this they have something called Marvin The Moose as their mascot, who according to their website wears ‘oversized antlers and preposterously large boots’ – make sure they bring him to Kingsmeadow then as it sounds as though he could be someone Haydon could actually beat in a penalty shootout!

Whether Haydon did in fact win the shootout I don’t know, largely because, for the second game running, the John Smith Stand regulars were treated to a shower as the pitch watering hose thingy came off its attachment and sprayed water over a large group, shooting upwards like a geyser. Still, it washed away the lingering smell of piss… and its been a while since I had a shower myself…

Back on the pitch, Martin Ling must have emphasised the need to keep the pressure on young Brown. Whether the Cambridge players took this a little too literally or the instruction came from the manager himself we will never know, yet directly from kickoff the ball was rolled to Danny Crow who fired an effort that dropped out of the sky towards te top corner. Sebb looked like a small animal in the glare of a trucks headlights as he positioned himself under it, requiring a last minute lung to the right to tip it over, colliding with the post as he did so.

My first comment about this is why Crow required a rolling ball to strike rather than just hitting it from a dead position. Its been a few years since the rules have changed and I can’t think of anyone who as scored direct from a restart since then, so you would think Crow might have tried his luck at that record while trying. Surely its easier to hit a dead ball anyway?

cambridgeh 004Secondly it led to a spell of pressure by Cambridge straight from the off. A couple of corners had to be cleared before the Dons could get in the game. Perhaps if you had a couple of players who could consistently hit a ball on or around the crossbar it might not ba a bad way of starting a half. It certainly beats whacking the ball out for a throw as far into opposition territory as you can…

Wimbledon struck back as a Sam Hatton flick-on sent Jay Conroy behind on the right flank. Conroy laid an intelligent ball across the six yard box which was just missed by a sliding Luke Moore, who could only get his studs on the ball and divert it wide.

It took another ten minutes or so until we saw the games next chance as the chance ratio went quiet for a little while. It took Cambridge centre-half Wayne Hatswell to shake the game from its slumbers, as he moved forward and hit one from distance. Unfortunately for the visitors the ball ended up high in the Tempest, but it did spur the visitors into action to actually get the ball in the net a couple of minutes later.

Well, I say put the ball in the net, but the effort barely deserved the tag ‘disallowed goal’ as the linesman had his flag up well in advance, and the Dons defence seemed to have stopped such was the extent of the offside. Still, the referee seemed to run towards the half way line vaguely pointing towards the centre circle (or was it for a free kick to the Dons). Eventually he ran to his assistant, strangely doing so backwards and not looking at his colleague until he was next to him.

cambridgeh 008It was at this stage that experienced Dons watchers such as myself started to worry. Despite the obvious illegitimacy of the effort, it wouldn’t have been beyond belief that this particular refereewould award the goal. He eventually signalled for a free kick in a manner that suggested he was trying to let us know the delay wasn’t caused by him losing the plot, he just did things like this sloooowwwwwlyyyyyy.

He was back up to speed before too long, and the Dons management team were getting frustrated by Danny Kedwell. They were under the belief that the official would start giving fouls the Dons way sooner rather than later to redress the balance. The problem was the big forward wasn’t getting into positions to receive the ball in order to be fouled. It was a different Kedwell we saw in the second half, making us wonder whether someone had dropped something into his tea during the break.

It could have been substitute Ross Montgomery, the most likely player to replace Kedwell. Either way Terry Browns regular sixtieth minute substitution involved Wellard being removed for Lewis Taylor to add some width down the right. In the sixty-seventh minute came the dons hallelujah moment, a free-kick awarded in a good position on the right flank.

Hussey delivered an inswinger deep towards the far post. U’s keeper Danny Potter strayed towards the ball before deciding against it, and found himself out of position as Lorraine got round the back and nodded the ball over him. With no keeper between the sticks Johnson got up to meet the ball from six yards out but under pressure, and with players on the line, could only direct it over the bar.

It probably counted as Wimbledon’s best chance of the game so far, but more chances were to follow. Another Hussey free-kick found its way to Johnson who could only flick well over the bar. Yet Cambridge were creating as well, a U’s forward seemingly having a clear shot on goal until the King of Blocks himself, Jay Conroy, threw himself in front of the ball.

cambridgeh 009This lead to a bit of a scramble during which Cambridge’s Jai Reason did himself no favours, firstly by throwing himself unconvincingly to the floor, then chasing Derek Duncan after the Dons forward had tried to help him up (admittedly by yanking him by his shirt until it got stuck over Reasons head…) and pushing him with some force. Of course the referee had apparently seen none of this, despite cautioning Johnson and Moore early on for nothing challenges, this assault proved unworthy of the referee’s attention.

Brown T had finally seen enough on seventy-three minutes and decided to introduce Ross Montague. It was Danny Kedwell who found himself withdrawn after seeing himself increasingly cast as an onlooker as the game had progressed. Montague looks a similar type of target man to Kedwell, despite not looking as though he is as good in the air as the Dons top scorer he still gave the impression of being the sort of player who doesn’t mind receiving the ball with his back to goal, feeding team-mates.

He was in the action straight away launching a break, and while his shot was blocked the ball fell nicely for Lewis Taylor on the right, who could only drag his shot across goal and wide of the left post. Luke Moore was the next to come close, as he found space in the left side of the area but could only drill low straight at Potter.

Browns last throw of the dice saw Derek Duncan replaced by Jon Main, looking to exploit the tiring Cambridge defence. With five minutes to go Mains persistance won a corner on the right. Hussey hit his usual inswinger, met at the near post by Sam Hatton whose flicked header flew across the goal and drifted wide of the far post, with no Dons forward on hand to turn the ball in.

Then with about ten minutes to go Montague fed a well weighted ball into the path of Luke Moore, setting him free down the left. Moore’s first touch was heavy, giving Potter the chance to close him down, and in the end Moore had to stretch to reach the ball first, seeing it bobble off the keeper and roll away with Moore still on the deck following his effort.

The Dons final chance came after a scare in their own box, with Hatswell firing over. A free-kick was awarded on the left in prime Sam Hatton territory. Hatton had been the victim of some abuse from a guy standing near me who I identified early on. He had a cap on which I think was hiding ginger hair, a wispy beard and… looked like he had never kicked a ball in his life. So I was all ready to get right up in his face when the ball flew into the top corner (as has previously been discussed on a certain guest book, he pays his money to spout this crap, therefore I have the right as a paying customer to lay into him if I chose to…). 

Unfortunately Sam blazed over. Which kind of summed the game up. And in the very unlikely event that Sam reads this, I can’t really stand up for you when you have had a poor game. However, and bringing the report back to Sebb Brown who I thought looked out of his depth, while critical of the decision to sign him, at no stage did it strike me that it would be a good idea to shout abuse at him. I wasn’t screaming for Terry to haul him off and bring Turner on, as this would have obviously been the wrong decision to make regarding both players.

And thats my opinion. Sebb isn’t a Conference keeper at the moment. Not that it’s really relevant, as Jamie Pullen should be back for the Ebbsfleet game, and with Andy Little returning it could have been his last game for the club. But as for his performance yesterday… ignoring the error, which wasn’t punished, he did as well as he could have been expected to. He made a couple of routine saves, and despite not seeming confident enough to catch the ball he did come and punch a couple of crosses clear. In other words, behind our admittedly strong defence, he didn’t concede for a game and a half. And that if nothing else deserves at least a little credit.

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Conference Score! Saturday 12th September ’09

AFC Wimbledon    (0) 0

Cambridge United    (0) 0

The Dons and The U’s cancelled each other out at Kingsmeadow this afternoon, playing out an entertaining goalless draw. Both sides had chances, Cambridge perhaps had the more clearcut including an excellent intervention from Johnson after Brown allowed a through ball to bounce over him. The visitors failed to test the rookie keeper, who looked less of a liability than Cambridge may have thought thanks to a brilliant display from the Dons back four.

Wimbledon had their opportunities but again failed to properly test the Cambridge goalkeeper despite the introduction of Ross Montague, who maybe would have benefitted from a longer run out after replacing the tiring Kedwell on 75 minutes. Johnson was named the sponsors man of the match in front of an average crowd of 4128 (in that the Dons average for their previous home games stood as 4128… it doesn’t take a genius to work out what the new average is…)

Match report follows, probably tomorrow morning. But I’m heading out drinking now, so who knows!

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AFC Wimbledon v Cambridge United – (The Laziest Ever) Match Preview

OK… I forgot to put together a match preview. Sorry. I found this website with the most pointless waste of time games on the web (which can be found here… http://www.pointlesssites.com/games-and-puzzles.asp) so have spent the last hour pointlessly wasting my time… Yes I am 31, unfotunately so is my IQ… Plus I have dinner with the missus this evening, so might wrote a bit more around midnight – keep ’em peeled!

Until then, heres the O/S preview…

http://www.afcwimbledon.co.uk/news.php?Psection_id=2&Psub_section_id=1&utm_source=rss&utm_medium=xml&Open=4373#tar4373

And heres something I wrote about Cambridge in pre-season, in the short lived Conference Files series… Yes its hopelessly out of date (Cambridge United are geared up for a return to the Football League ha ha!), but hey… its something.

https://anonymousdon.wordpress.com/2009/05/25/the-conference-files-cambridge-united/

Enjoy, and maybe if you check in the morning there will be something else worth reading!

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The Conference Files – Cambridge United

You have to feel a little sorry for Cambridge. After being one of the better sides in the Conference they failed in the playoffs again this season, losing 2-0 to Torquay at Wembley. Here is a club desperate to return to the league. You can see it in every aspect of the organisation, even as I listened to the final on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire the commentator moaned ‘Back to Barrow next season…’. Probably not intended as an insult to all at Holker Street, it was more down to Barrow being seen as a typical Conference club that happens to be quite far away rather than a nasty place to visit, but an example of how geared towards a return to League football they are.

HISTORY

Cambridge United were founded back in 1909, alas not the Cambridge United that went on to greater things as is the tangled web of football history. The current United were formed as Abbey United a few years later in 1912. The club only changed its name in 1951, a couple of years after they had turned professional, and they were promoted from the Eastern Counties League to the Southern League in 1958.

When ailing Bradford Park Avenue were spared of their league place in 1970, Cambridge were there to make the step up. The U’s league positions over the next thirty years when plotted onto a graph resembles an Alpine landscape, after an initial climb to the Second division. The Third Division seemed to have no meaning for Cambridge United as they either passed it on the way up or fell through on the way back.

There seems little point reiterating the John Beck years, as all but the youngest Wimbledon supporters will be aware of them, and in simplest terms it would be fair to compare Beck as a slightly less successful version of Harry Bassett. Unlike Bassett, who relied on knowing his players inside out and giving them licence to bond into a unit that could achieve the impossible, Beck had a system, and took its implementation to almost military levels.

Beck took a small town club to the verge of the first ever Premier League season via back-to-back promotions. Cambridge were a successful playoff campaign away from joining the Dons in the inaugural Premier League, but sadly Leicester had other ideas. Beck was reliant on his game plan, and Cambridge were found out on several occasions in their second season in the second tier, before Beck was fired and Cambridge slumped back to the bottom tier of English professional football.

Cambridge found their 35 year Football League history ended in 2005, and followed the familiar tale of clubs dropping out of the League taking a couple of seasons to find themselves. This was set to a background of saving the club from extinction, as the club plunged into administration. They were only saved from extinction, in football terms, deep, deep into stoppage time by the intervention of Sports Minister Richard Caborn (and after all the moaning from Ryman clubs regarding Jim Sturman QC battling our 18 point deduction its nice to see another club with friends in high places!).

As you could gather by back to back playoff finals, the club are back on a firm footing, and after finishing second over the past two seasons could consider themselves unlucky not to be back in the Football League, pipped the season before last to the title by the side Terry Brown built, Aldershot Town.

LAST SEASON

The U’s must have watched slightly envious as the side that defeated them in the 2008 Conference playoff final, Exeter City, continued their forward momentum by snatching a promotion place and will find themselves in League 1 next season. Cambridge on the other hand, put together an extremely decent season, chasing down long time leaders Burton to the very last day. They needed a 4-0 victory against Altrincham, but in front of a full house at the Abbey Stadium couldn’t break them down.

Taking a huge amount of momentum into the playoffs they defeated Conference nearly men Stevenage after a second leg home comeback, notching the winner seconds from the end of extra time. This time around another Devon club stood in their way, Torquay. Cambridge were to face more Wembley heartache losing 2-0, and find themselves in an intriguing position entering 09/10.

THE CLUB

Cambridge United are too big for the Conference. Sadly so are Oxford, Luton, and (dare I say it) AFC Wimbledon. Of course the Dons are unlikely to be serious promotion challengers this coming season, but only one of those clubs can win automatic promotion next season. And as Cambridge know, once you get to the playoffs, anything can happen.

As a club, Cambridge are set for the Football League, no problems. They have the stadium (which lets face it, we don’t have yet… although we are waiting for promotion to the Football League to improve it further), the manager and a decent core of players. Boss Gary Brabin had been linked with a move to Blackpool, and the news he is staying must be a massive boost to the club.

Plus of course they have the supporters. The average of 3.500 has barely changed over the past couple of seasons, and the U’s will be one of a handful of clubs who can match the Dons attendances next term. So with big league rivalries and a blossoming local affair with Histon (albeit one that U’s fans probably feel hugely embarrassed about – remember when our local rivals from the village down the road turned up at our place and did us 4-0? Still, who’s in the Conference now, eh?!), our matches with Cambridge next season will be way down the list of who United fans check for when the fixtures come out in June.

As well as this they have something called Marvin The Moose as their mascot, who according to their website wears ‘oversized antlers and preposterously large boots’ – make sure they bring him to Kingsmeadow then as it sounds as though he could be someone Haydon could actually beat in a penalty shootout!

THE GROUND

The Abbey Stadium is the sort of place I’d kind of like to visit for our first game. Like Newport last season we can take a couple of thousand there, wander round the city like we own the place, easily outsing the locals, hopefully catch them on an early season off day and come home with a thumping victory, knowing that we were well and truly back where we belonged.

In reality we’d probably end up there on a cold Tuesday in February with a hardcore few hundred watching a 0-1 defeat. But what a place to go to see us lose! It’s a proper League ground, one that we have been starved of apart from the friendly at Brentford. It’s been probably twenty years since my only visit to the Abbey Stadium for a non-Dons Friday night game that the home team won 4-3 if my memory serves me well. But I know the recently built stand behind the goal at the far end is seated and will be open to Dons fans presuming it’s a Saturday game, if not there’s plenty of space on the adjacent terrace, which apparently holds 1000 away fans.

ADMISSION

2009/10

(Dons home admission in brackets for comparison)

TERRACE – £15 (£12) Conc £11 (£8) U16 £5 (£2)

SEATS – £17/18 (£14/16) Conc £13/12 (£7/8) U16 £9/10 (£3/4)

Higher price tickets for a club that may have hoped to be back in the League by now – however Cambridge have an early bird season ticket price which actually comes in cheaper than the Dons, of which they have apparently shifted nearly 2000 already (more than us!).

PREVIOUS

AFC Era – None

All time Wimbledon – 

CURES

 

 

The first meeting between The Dons and The U’s took place back in December 1964 at Plough Lane in the Eastern Professional Floodlight League, and finished with a 5-1 victory for the home team. The sides met regularly in the Southern League during the late sixties, however haven’t met in the league since, Wimbledon FC’s yo-yo years between the Third and Fourth Divisions coincided with a prolonged Cambridge stay in the Second Division.

The last time a Wimbledon team met Cambridge was in the Littlewoods Cup Second Round 1987, which Cambridge won on away goals following a 2-2 draw at Plough Lane.

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