Cambridge United points off another leading side in draw with Wycombe Wanderers
Paul Lewis strikes to earn U's a point
Accusations have been continually levelled about Cambridge United’s ability to take points from the leading sides in Sky Bet League Two.
In recent weeks, however, Joe Dunne’s team have done a large amount to dispel those criticisms.
Paul Lewis struck late to earn a 1-1 draw at Wycombe last Saturday, adding to the 1-1 draw against then leaders Luton Town and a 1-0 win over Notts County, while they gave a good performance in a 1-0 defeat to new leaders Accrington Stanley.
All the sides are in the top seven, while play-off hopefuls Swindon are the visitors to the Abbey Stadium this Saturday.
“I think what you have to do is play the game as a one-off and play against the top teams as a one-off game; that’s what we’ve done in this run,” said interim head coach Dunne.
“Every game is like a one-off game where it’s intense for that day only and then we worry about the next one. Once we got away from Luton it was Wycombe and then the next one [Swindon] is another team going for promotion.
“I don’t want to be thinking about the next and the next because it’s dealing with the now, and that’s how we work it.”
It may have seemed a daunting prospect to face Notts County, Accrington Stanley, Luton Town, Wycombe Wanderers and Swindon Town in quick succession.
But Dunne said: “It’s that catastrophic negative thinking that I think affects a lot of people.
“I don’t live there, and my team doesn’t live there. You can’t because you’ve lost before you’ve entered the game; you’re beaten before you step onto the pitch.
“I don’t feel we need to feel that way, we just need to go out and play on the day. Things will be good on the day, things will go wrong on the day.
“As long as we can minimise what goes wrong we will give ourselves a chance in any game.
“If we can give ourselves a chance in every game, against top or bottom, why not win all those games, or do well in all those games or pick up points in all those games.
“The flip side to a negative mindset is a positive mindset and that’s what we’ve tried to get into the players. Attitude plays a huge role in that and how they approach the game.
“That’s my job, and that’s all I’m trying to do, steer them in the right direction to how they think.”
So while the U’s may have struggled against the leading sides in recent seasons, no doubt there would be complaints if they were beating the leading teams but were defeated by the strugglers.
“It’s a trend that exists in team sports,” said Dunne. “We’re so diverse in football, top can beat bottom, bottom can beat top – then you’ll look at it and go they can’t beat them and they can’t beat them.
“Sometimes you can’t beat the top because the quality is better. We see that at every level of sport. But have a go, have a go at them.”
He added: “We’ve got 10 games left so let’s have a right go between now and the end of the season. Let’s play every game as if we have something to play for.”