Cambridge United prepare to be first opponents of Paul Hurst’s new era at Grimsby Town
Cambridge United will be venturing into a new era at Blundell Park when they visit Grimsby Town in Sky Bet League Two tomorrow (January 2).
The Mariners have appointed Paul Hurst to replace Ian Holloway as manager, in what will be his second spell in charge of the club having led them to promotion from the Conference in 2016 in his first period at the helm.
There has been much upheaval at Grimsby this season and they sit one place outside the relegation places, but earned a draw against away-day specialists Oldham Athletic in midweek.
“It will be a tough game on Saturday against a team that got a decent point on Tuesday, and have since appointed a new manager so there is a little bit of the unknown going into the game as well,” said United head coach Mark Bonner.
“Paul has had some success there over the years. Also, we played against them when we were in the Conference and he was successful there. He's had a really good rise from there.
“He did a brilliant job at Shrewsbury, getting himself the Ipswich job and has clearly been looking to get back in for a while.
“He is back somewhere he is familiar with, and no doubt that will give them a boost because it normally does.
“But being honest, Grimsby’s business is their business, it’s nothing to do with us. We’ve got to be good ourselves and go there and perform properly.”
United are eighth in the table, a place outside the play-off places on goal difference, but just struggling to put together two wins in a row.
They will be hoping to chalk up the first on Saturday, and will have ample opportunity to build on that with eight games in the next 28 days.
“The number of points you can pick up in a short period of time is huge,” said Bonner.
“It just highlights again the importance of consecutive results. We haven’t had those for a while, but it is testament firstly to our good start but secondly to what is going on in the league that no-one has broken away from us.
“I think we still find ourselves six points off the top of the table, and six points off 17th place - the league is ridiculous in that sense.
“The importance of consecutive results is obviously key, and we’ve got to try to do that over the next busy period of time. But the starting point is to make sure we take something out of the game on Saturday.”
United have a clean bill of health, with the exception of Hiram Boateng and Liam O'Neil.
But the latter is edging his way back to full fitness, and was out warming up with the team before the match with Leyton Orient on Boxing Day.
“Liam is training and making nice progress,” said Bonner.
“We will just see over the next couple of weeks how much we’re able to train out on the surface and how much we can get done.
“We don’t really want to put a timeline on when that will be, but it’s looking quite healthy at the moment.
“Hopefully we can have him back at some point in the next month.”