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Match Previews

Preview: Cambridge (H)

12 January 2019

Notts County face Cambridge United on Saturday in a huge game at the bottom of Sky Bet League Two.

Just five points separate the 24th-placed Magpies and the U’s in 21st and a 15,000-strong crowd is expected at Meadow Lane with all tickets priced £2.

Notts come into the match on the back of a 3-3 draw with play-off chasing Colchester, where they were cursing their luck not to have left with maximum points.

It was a similar story for Neal Ardley’s side the last time they played at Meadow Lane. Bury goalkeeper Joe Murphy was in inspired form to deny the Magpies a victory in their final game of 2018 after another positive performance against a promotion candidate.

Cambridge, meanwhile, faced the top two in recent weeks and tasted defeat on both occasions – losing 2-1 at home to Lincoln and 6-0 at MK Dons on New Year’s Day.

The U’s have lost their last six away games in all competitions but won 2-0 at home to Stevenage last week.

New Cambridge boss Colin Calderwood has picked up two victories from his first five matches in charge and will hope for a happy return to Nottingham after managing Forest for 125 games between 2006 and 2008.

Ardley says…

“All footballers want to play in front of big crowds and if there is positivity in the stadium from the first minute to the last it will help drive us on.

“If we are able to use the energy of the supporters in the right way it will be a powerful thing and can help us start to build momentum.

I’m trying to avoid calling it a six-pointer but it’s a natural thing. If they win, the gap increases and it becomes harder for us to close it again.

“It’ll be a tough game but this is an opportunity to make up for lost points in recent weeks."

Calderwood says…

“The biggest surprise in the division is that Notts are where they are and everyone expects a resurgence from them at some point.

“It’s an acid test for us on Saturday but a terrific game that we are looking forward to because it’s about Cambridge United and our performance.

“We need to focus on doing our job. My philosophy involves looking to score goals so we’ll be going there to win the game.

“We have to have more self-belief and confidence. With the way the season has gone that can be difficult so we have to force the issue a bit more.”

Team news

New signings Jim O’Brien and Ryan Schofield are firmly in Ardley’s reckoning after joining Notts this week, while Lewis Alessandra will hope to be more involved after making his long-awaited return to action after coming off the bench against Colchester.

Matt Tootle will again be absent after suffering a tear in his thigh, with Elliott Hewitt, Kane Hemmings and Enzio Boldewijn remaining sidelined.

Calderwood was pleased to see George Taft play 90 minutes of the win against Stevenage and he is set to continue in the heart of the Cambridge defence.

Liam O’Neil and Reggie Lambe both missed out last week but are in contention for a return to the side on Saturday.

Rushian Hepburn-Murphy will also hope to see his name in Cambridge's starting 11 after the forward completed a loan move from Aston Villa on Friday.

We’ve met before

Notts haven’t won any of their last eight meetings with the U’s and suffered a late 3-2 loss at the Abbey Stadium earlier this season courtesy of Barry Corr's stoppage-time header.

Boldewijn scored his first of the season to open the scoring with Richard Duffy also on the scoresheet, while Ade Azeez netted a brace for the hosts.

The Magpies’ last victory over Cambridge came at Meadow Lane in 2004 with Matty Williams and Chris Palmer scoring in the 2-1 win. Shane Tudor got the visitors’ goal.

Elsewhere in League Two

Second-bottom Macclesfield make the trip to in-form Grimsby, who have won six of their last nine league games. Four of those successes have come at Blundell Park.

Yeovil are chasing a first victory since 27 October and face the tough task of earning it away to fourth-placed Mansfield.

Morecambe make the long journey down to Exeter, while Port Vale will hope to end a six-game winless run when they host Colchester.

The afternoon’s officials

Referee: John Busby

Assistants: Craig Taylor and Rob Smith

Fourth official: Duncan Street

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