‘Little’ Cambridge United aiming to douse ‘on fire’ Charlton Athletic at The Valley in Sky Bet League One
Mark Bonner has set Cambridge United the task of following up their five-star midweek performance at in-form Charlton Athletic in Sky Bet League One on Saturday (December 11).
The U’s turned in an impressive display in midweek with a 5-0 victory at Cheltenham Town, and the clash at The Valley is between two sides locked together in 14th and 15th place in the table on 26 points.
But it is perhaps not a reflection on the Addicks’ current form.
They had been struggling in the relegation places before sacking manager Nigel Adkins after a 3-2 home defeat to Accrington Stanley on October 19, and since caretaker boss Johnnie Jackson has been in charge, they have lost just once in eight league games.
“It’s never good to see somebody lose their job, but we’re right level with each other in the league and their form since Johnnie Jackson has taken over has been exceptional but unsurprising,” said United head coach Bonner.
“You look at the squad and the experience and the depth, they shouldn’t be mid-table, let alone at the bottom end of the table.
“The expectation there is obvious, 25,000 supporters certainly expect to come to see them beat Cambridge at the weekend, but little Cambridge want to turn up to see if they can do something.
“We will be buoyed by 1,500 fans that will love being there, and I hope those on HMS Ironside get there safely and enjoy their day out.
“In the end, we want to try to be competitive and we want to try to enjoy these games. It’s another example of what we have earned by being here.
“We want to show that we can go toe to toe with the top teams. There is no doubt that Charlton are one of them, and we talk about this often because there are probably 10 teams that should be getting promoted in this league, and we want to keep showing that we can have a go with them.
“We are under no illusions how tough that game is, but we certainly couldn’t be going there in better shape than we are.”
On Jackson, Bonner added: “He has done a brilliant job there and he looks a perfect fit for the job. I think the supporters think that, and it looks like he is well placed to land that position.”
It is a tricky spell that leads into the festive period for the U’s, with two of the top three up next after the trip to the Valley.
“You look at the next three games - Charlton, Rotherham, Wycombe - and you can’t get much harder than that,” said Bonner.
“Certainly we will make changes, certainly we will use the whole squad over that period because it will force us to and it’s a run of games now that we can really go and attack.
“We can go into Charlton, with 25,000+ in the stadium, who are on fire at the moment, and go there with a bit of confidence and try to enjoy that day and that occasion to take something from the game.
“Then the players can have a couple of days off for the first time in I don’t know how long.”