Ipswich 'should be getting promoted automatically': Cambridge boss

A general view of Cambridge United branding at the Abbey Stadium, Cambridge. Picture date: Saturday

Town entertain Cambridge United today. - Credit: PA

Ipswich Town entertain Cambridge United at Portman Road this afternoon. MIKE BACON takes a look at Town's opponents.

The story so far

Promoted from League Two last season, Cambridge United made a good start to life back in League One. 

Indeed, they lost just once in their first five League outings, before Lincoln came to the Abbey Stadium and thrashed Mark Bonner's side 1-5.

However, it didn't deter the U's who bounced back with victory at Portsmouth, as well as holding the likes of Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday to score draws.

Cambridge beat both Northampton and Exeter in the first two rounds of the FA Cup, before causing an almighty upset at Newcastle, where they beat the Premier League team 0-1 at St James' Park, Joe Ironside netting the winner.

The U's were beaten in round four by Luton Town but were winning enough League One games here and there to keep themselves above the relegation zone, including a fine 2-0 win over play-off chasing Plymouth.

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Heavy recent defeats against Oxford (2-4), Sheffield Wednesday (0-6) and Wycombe (0-3) have seen the U's have a wobble, but last Saturday's 0-1 win at AFC Wimbledon has all but sealed their place in League One for next season.

File photo dated 05-02-2022 of Cambridge United manager Mark Bonner who will assess his “walking wou

Cambridge United manager Mark Bonner. - Credit: PA

Bonner on Blues

Cambridge United boss Mark Bonner joined the U's in June 2011, working in a number of positions in the club's academy.

He's had various spells as caretaker boss, before being handed the keys to the door as first-team manager in March 2020. Since then, he hasn't looked back.

After a Covid-hit 2019/20 season, Bonner secured promotion for Cambridge last season, as well as scooping manager-of-the-month awards.

But he is under no illusions of the task his side face today.

“Ipswich have kept an incredible number of clean sheets, as well as picking up an impressive number of wins since Kieran McKenna came in," he said this week.

"Let’s be honest, they should be getting promoted automatically with their team, so there’s no surprise that they are fighting for the play-offs, the only surprise really was that they were so far off the play-offs at one point.

“We know how tough the task is, as the pattern of the entire season has gone, we know we have to be at our very best if we are going to get anything from the game on Saturday.

“It’s a league of two league’s really, we know that, and we’re almost going up against a team in the league above us on Saturday."

Newcastle United's Joelinton makes a tackle on Cambridge United's Paul Digby (left) during the Emira

Newcastle United's Joelinton makes a tackle on Cambridge United's Paul Digby (left) during the Emirates FA Cup third round match at St. James' Park earlier in the season. - Credit: PA

Former Town man is captain

Paul Digby is the current U's skipper. Club captain Greg Taylor is out injured. Digby was on loan at Ipswich Town for the 2015/16 season from Barnsley.

Then Town boss Mick McCarthy stated when Digby joined: "This fella (Paul Digby) has got a bit of a pedigree in terms of him coming through the England youth ranks and he's come here and impressed."

Indeed he impressed so much, Digby was handed a one-year deal at Portman Road the season afterwards.

However, Digby never really broke into the Town side and ended up making just 12 appearances for the Blues.

After moving to Mansfield, Forest Green and Stevenage, Digby has now settled in well at the Abbey Stadium and he helped the U's to promotion last season.

Last summer the 27-year-old signed a new two-year contract with Cambridge.

Head to head

Despite being very near neighbours, Cambridge United and Ipswich Town have only met six times in competitive fixtures.

And it's two wins apiece, with two draws.

It was back in 1986 the two teams first met at the Abbey Stadium, the U's winning a League Cup clash 1-0.

During the 1991/92 season when Town won Division Two to gain promotion to the inaugural Premiership, Cambridge beat and drew with the Blues in their two league meetings.

What the bookies say

As you would expect, Town are hot favourites with the bookies for this one. In fact, and rather incredibly, you can get up to 8/1 for Cambridge to pull off a shock win at Portman Road today. Quite some odds in a two-horse race.


Did you know?

Cambridge could be called the birthplace of football as we know it. The “Cambridge Rules” were drawn up at the University in 1863, and influenced the Football Association’s original rules. For instance, they banned carrying the ball as well as “hacking” (kicking in the shins) for the first time. The rule that “no player is allowed to loiter between the ball and the adversaries’ goal” formalised the offside rule.