“Smart blue suit and you went to Cambridge too
You miss page three, but The Times is right for you”
- Mr Clean, The Jam (1978)
Having moved house this week @Welsh_Saddler is enjoying a well deserved rest in Spain, so I’ll be taking the match preview reins this week. Apologies.
Currently sitting in 12th, the U’s have had a mixed start to the league season, with a record of P17 W6 D5 L6. Their form at home (12 points from 9 games) and away (11 points from 8 games) has been similarly balanced, but the recent 4-0 defeat of high-flying Exeter proves they can match anyone.
Sam Smith, on loan from Reading, would appear to be their danger man. The 21-year-old forward has 7 goals and one assist to his name so far this season.
Recent League Form
Oct 12 Salford City (A) Lost 1-0
Oct 19 Exeter City (H) Won 4-0
Oct 22 Grimsby Town (H) Drew 0-0
Oct 26 Northampton (A) Lost 2-0
Nov 02 Crawley Town (H) Won 2-1
We last played Cambridge at Bescot on 23rd December 2000, midway through the season that would end with promotion at the Millennium Stadium. Sandwiched by defeats at Millwall and Swansea, the Saddlers won this one 3-1 with a fantastic first half brace from Gabby Bukran and a 90th minute solo effort from Pedro Matias. Paul Connor got the visitors’ goal on 72 minutes.
A multinational affair, the starting line-ups had players from no fewer than 10 different countries represented; England (11), Scotland (2), Spain (2), Antigua and Barbuda (1), France (1), Germany (1), Hungary (1), Jamaica (1), Portugal (1) and Sweden (1),
The game, enjoyed by 5,277, was refereed by the superbly named Mike Pike.
Played for Both
Former Saddler Jabo Ibehre joined Cambridge in 2017 but is sidelined with a long term knee injury that has kept him out since September. Rory Gaffney made his Football League debut with the U’s, scoring two goals in six games before he was signed by then Bristol Rovers manager Darrell Clarke.
Martin Butler left Walsall for the Abbey Stadium in 1997, a move that kick-started his career. He scored 41 goals in 104 appearances for the U’s and struck up a revered partnership with Trevor Benjamin. Both would enjoy successful careers before re-uniting in the second half of Walsall’s 2007 title winning campaign under Richard Money, who went on to manage Cambridge between 2012 and 2015.
Zeli Ismail, Chris Dunn and John Ruddy have also represented both clubs.
The League Two form guide suggests a Walsall loss, but could Tuesday’s 6-0 win in the Mickey Mouse Cup be an unlikely catalyst for an upturn in fortunes?
Probably not. We’ve conceded two goals or more in each of our last seven league games and two against Darlington in the Cup last weekend. The humbling of a young FGR side might show we can score goals but Cambridge will be a far greater test of our defensive capabilities.
Some selection consistency and a front pairing of Gordon and Lavery will help the cause, but a defensive improvement is needed in order to win this or any other league game.
- Walsall Win
- Cambridge Win