Newport County AFC will be looking to continue their superior recent record against Cambridge United when they travel to The Abbey Stadium on Saturday. The Exiles have won each of the last six previous meetings by an aggregate score of 17-5, with the U’s hoping to improve upon both that record and their home form which only yielded 28 points last campaign.
Here, you can find all the facts and statistics ahead of this League Two encounter…
How Cambridge United fared on opening day
Cambridge United held their nerve against one of the bookies favourites for the League Two title as they held on for half an hour with 10 men to secure a spirited 0-0 draw at Bradford City.
A bumper crowd of 14,810 were in attendance to see midfielder Liam O’Neil dismissed on the hour for tripping Bantams striker Clayton Donaldson, but the home side couldn’t make the numerical advantage count in the only League Two goalless draw on opening day.
Bradford dominated in terms of possession and vastly trumped Cambridge in terms of chances created, however the visitors were the happier at full time having battled to an unlikely point.
Cambridge United team vs Bradford City (4-4-2): Mitov, Jones (Dunk 68’), Taft, Taylor (C), Knoyle, Hannant, Lewis, O’Neil, Lambe (Maris 68’), Ibehre, Dallas (Smith 63’)
Cambridge United will have a few selection headaches to contend with ahead of welcoming Newport County AFC to The Abbey Stadium on Saturday.
In terms of injury absentees, Harvey Knibbs (heel) and defender Louis John (shoulder) have both returned to training on grass but this weekend will come too early for their matchday return.
Manager Colin Calderwood said: “Everyone [else] seems okay. Normally after the first game one or two are a bit leggy, but we can have no complaints about how we came out of the game [against Bradford City].”
Cambridge will also have to cope without midfielder Liam O’Neil who is suspended following his dismissal last weekend. Manager Calderwood confirmed the U’s may change shape to manage his absence.
One to Watch – Marc Richards
Signed to a short-term contract on Monday, highly experienced striker Marc Richards will add further depth to Cambridge United’s forward line, and he could be thrown straight in for his debut on Saturday.
The 37-year old is closing on 600 Football League appearances, having made 638 in total across all competitions, scoring 191 goals.
A perennial promotion winner, Richards has been involved in successful league campaigns at three of his former employers, triumphing in the League One play-offs with Barnsley in 2005/06, while also getting out of League Two with Chesterfield (2014) and Northampton Town (2016).
Clubs including Blackburn Rovers, Barnsley and Swansea City also feature on Richards’ impressive CV, which has seen him play his entire career in the Football League right the way through from Championship to League Two.
Manager – Colin Calderwood
Vastly experienced as both a manager and assistant manager, Colin Calderwood was brought into Cambridge United midway through last season and he successfully fulfilled the first challenge which was to ensure the U’s remained part of the Football League for the current campaign.
Taking to the hotseat on 19th December 2018 with Cambridge dangling perilously over the drop zone, some vital results in the ensuing months ensured the side finished six points clear of the relegation zone in 21st position.
Calderwood will welcome County with a 28%-win ratio as Cambridge manager, having won seven of his 25 matches in charge. The U’s have drawn seven and lost a further eleven.
This current position is Calderwood’s fourth as a manager and he’s had relative success at his previous clubs. He knows how to get teams out of League Two having secured promotion with Northampton Town in 2006, before getting Nottingham Forest into the Championship two years later.
Alongside a further managerial position at Hibernian, Calderwood has been assistant manager to Chris Hughton on four occasions – at Newcastle United, Birmingham City, Norwich City and Brighton & Hove Albion.
Stadium – The Abbey Stadium
A stadium often frequented by the Exiles, Cambridge United’s Abbey Stadium has been their home since 1932 and has a mixture of seating and terracing.
The official attendance is 8,127, although crowds from yesteryear were higher than that with the record standing at 14,000 when Chelsea were the visitors for a friendly to mark the club’s new floodlights in May 1970.
On matchday, away supporters will be housed in the Marston’s Smooth South Stand which is directly behind one of the goals. This is an all-seater stand and up to 1,500 travelling Exiles could be housed on Saturday.
It’s a journey well-trodden by County supporters but some recent away followings include 339 on the opening day of the 2015/16 campaign, although it wasn’t the best afternoon as Medi Elito missed a penalty and County lost 3-0 in Terry Butcher’s first game in charge.
A total of 153 away supporters were there for the bizarre game on 18th February 2017 as Mark Roberts netted a stoppage time winner in a 3-2 home victory, while 143 were there last season on 16th December 2017 to see County get their own winner in the added extras during a 2-1 success.
101 fans made the first trip to Cambridge last season as County safely secured their passage through to the Second Round of the Carabao Cup with a 4-1 victory on 14th August 2018. 181 then travelled for the 3-0 league victory in April which made it six successive victories in this fixture for the Exiles.
Meetings between the two sides in 2018/19
As hinted to by Padraig Amond in his post-match interview last Saturday, County have a ‘little hoodoo’ over Cambridge United having won all of the last six meetings between the two sides, spanning the last two campaigns.
The Irishman certainly knows how to find the target against the U’s having scored in all three of last season’s meetings, including netting twice in the 4-1 away success for the Exiles in the first round of the Carabao Cup on 14th August 2018. Jamille Matt and Antoine Semenyo also found the target.
In the first league meeting of 2018/19 on 29th September 2018, it looked as if County might lose their winning streak against Cambridge as the visitors went two-nil up inside twenty minutes through a double from Reggie Lambe.
The Exiles weren’t about to give up, however, and stormed to victory thanks to a penalty from Mickey Demetriou, the usual finish from Amond and two from Matt.
In the reverse league fixture on 13th April 2019, the Exiles again ran riot to win 3-0 in a fixture that really spring boarded the club’s unbelievable end of season run into the League Two play-offs.
Amond and Matt both took their tallies for the season against Cambridge to four, converting crosses from Robbie Willmott and Dan Butler respectively in the first half, before Harry McKirdy made the scoreline more flattering in stoppage time.
Referee: Marc Edwards
Assistant Referee 1: Ian Smedley
Assistant Referee 2: Andrew Williams
Fourth Official: Paul Yates
Marc Edwards will referee his first ever Football League fixture on Saturday when Cambridge and County do battle at The Abbey Stadium.
His only prior connection to the Exiles came in last season’s triumphant Emirates FA Cup campaign – he was fourth official as Matty Dolan struck in stoppage time to secure a draw up at Championship outfit Middlesbrough on 26th January 2019.
Edwards was also fourth official for a few Football League matches in the 2018/19 campaign, but this will be his first opportunity to be the man in the middle for a contest in the top four tiers of English football.
In the past two campaigns, Edwards has refereed in the National League, awarding 50 yellow cards and two red cards from 18 matches in the 2017/18 campaign. Last season, it was 72 yellows and one red from 22 matches.
Other League Two fixtures that day (All 3pm unless stated)
Grimsby Town vs Bradford City (1pm kick-off)
Cheltenham Town vs Scunthorpe United
Crawley Town vs Salford City
Macclesfield Town vs Leyton Orient
Mansfield Town vs Morecambe
Oldham Athletic vs Crewe Alexandra
Plymouth Argyle vs Colchester United
Port Vale vs Northampton Town
Stevenage vs Exeter City
Swindon Town vs Carlisle United
Walsall vs Forest Green Rovers
Can’t make the match?
You can follow along on social media using @NCAFCLive on Twitter, or via the Club’s official Facebook, Snapchat (OfficialExiles) and Instagram pages.
Don’t forget – if you reside outside of the UK, you can watch the game live by subscribing to County’s iFollow service. Commentary by Tim Thraves can also be found at the Match Centre from 2.45pm.
An on-the-whistle match report of this match will be provided on the club website upon the end of the game. Michael Flynn’s post-match analysis will appear on the website the day after the game, while you can watch all of Flynn’s post-match press conference as-well as two County players by subscribing to #iFollowExiles.