Shaun Derry looks for Cambridge United to show ruthless edge
It will be one of the division's meanest defences against the top scorers in Sky Bet League Two when Cambridge United travel to Luton Town tomorrow.
The U’s defensive record is the third best with only 16 goals conceded – and only Coventry City and Lincoln City have let in fewer – while Luton have scored 36.
But while United are hoping to improve their cutting edge, no-one can doubt their ability to create chances, which have been plentiful so far.
“It’s that final, final ball or that final finishing that has just caught us short this year,” said U’s head coach Shaun Derry.
“The games are so tight at this moment in time. We’ve spoken about Luton putting seven past one team and eight past another, I think they’re the only team that has actually done it.
“If you look at the results throughout this season, there have been a lot of one goal swings and I think that highlights the tightness of League Two.
“I suppose they are the key moments in the games. If we were to be self-critical, which we are, it would be not demonstrating our ruthlessness at the right times.
“I think if we can start to show that, we can start to be on the end of those 0-0s perhaps becoming 1-0s to our advantage.”
Getting a few more goals from attacking midfielders George Maris, Jevani Brown, Piero Mingoia, Medy Elito and Harrison Dunk will be one of the aims for the final two-thirds of the campaign as well.
“We’re expecting them all to contribute more than they are at this moment in time,” said Derry.
“And we’re working on it, day in, day out and we’re just over a third of the way through the season and where we are at this moment is a pretty decent position.
“Can we improve? Of course we can, we can always improve.”
The U’s defensive record of eight clean sheets from 17 games shows just how hard they are to break down though, and the difficulties they will cause to Luton.
But it should not be overlooked that the U’s have looked slick going forward; just without that finishing touch at times.
“Luton will be backing their chances because of how powerful they can be at certain times, but I think they realise and recognise our strengths as well,” said Derry.
“Yes, we’ve got a fantastic goals against column but we can take the game to the opposition as well and it’s just that final ball or that final chance where we’ve let ourselves down.
“I don’t want us to be stood back on our own 18-yard box on Saturday, I know that.”
He added: “I fully respect Nathan [Jones, Luton’s manager] and his team, I think they’ve got some brilliant players at our level, some really good players.
“Nathan and his coaches there work really hard for what they want to achieve, but I back us as well; I think we’ve got some good players as well.”