The U's are back in the Football League after a nine-year absence
Cambridge United secured their passage back to the Football League, ending a nine year absence, by beating Gateshead 2-1 at Wembley in the Conference play-off final. The U’s did a Wembley double as they beat Gosport Borough 4-0 in the FA Trophy final. They began the season with a record-breaking 16 games unbeaten. Luton Town proved too strong as they ran away with the Conference title, but the U’s kept up their promotion push, eventually finishing in second place on 82 points. That set up a play-off semi-final against Halifax Town, whom they beat 2-1 on aggregate to head back to Wembley for a second time. Luke Berry finished as the club’s top scorer, grabbing 16 goals from midfield. It was their excellent defensive record which proved to be a big factor in the U’s promotion – conceding just 35 goals in their 46 league games.
Richard Money arrived at Cambridge United in October 2012, with Jez George, the current manager, returning to his role as Director of Football. They would finish Money’s first season in charge in 14th, but in his first full season he has guided the U’s back to the Football League. After a playing career in which he featured heavily for Scunthorpe United, Money began his managerial career with the Iron, as their player/manager. He later took the role of Youth Coach at Aston Villa before returning to Scunthorpe again to take the manager’s role. He was then a coach at Nottingham Forest before moving to Manchester City. After managerial roles abroad, he returned to England with Walsall, and then Luton Town, before taking the U’s job in 2012.
MEN TO WATCH
Youngster Luke Berry came through the club’s youth development scheme under the tutelage of Director of Football Jez George, and finished the season as the club’s top goalscorer. At just 22, he is close to 150 appearances for the club and has played for England’s C team. He scored 16 times for the club in all competitions.
Adam Cunnington, a proven goalscorer at Conference level, will be looking to enjoy a crack at the Football League, like much of the squad. Cunnington scored nine times during the season.
Ryan Donaldson scored what proved to be the winner in the Wembley final, as the U’s won 2-1. The former Newcastle trainee had loan spells at Hartlepool and Tranmere, making just six appearances for his parent club, before signing a permanent deal with Gateshead. From there he moved to United, and would score against his former club to seal the U’s promotion.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED THIS SUMMER
Not a lot has happened at this stage for Cambridge United, but manager Richard Money has urged the club not to stand still following their promotion.
Speaking to the Cambridge News, Money said: “I think the most important thing is that everybody at this club has to realise very quickly that this isn’t the end of the journey, it’s the beginning and we can’t stand still or stop now.
“The club has got to grow immediately in all areas on and off the pitch.
“Jez (George, director of football) has (spoken to finance director Robert Smith) about budgets and I’ve got no doubt that there will be an appropriate amount of money available for us to do what we need to do.
“Everything we’ve done all the way through on and off the pitch is an attempt to try to ensure the budget increases year on year because we have to keep growing.”
Blues and Cambridge have met 32 times in their history, and it’s Blues who have come out on top up to now. Blues have won 16 of the 32 meetings, with nine draws and seven defeats. The last meeting between the sides was in March 2005, the year Blues won promotion from League 2 via the play-offs. That 2-0 win at Cambridge came after a 0-0 draw at Roots Hall. Blues haven’t lost against the U’s in the previous seven meetings, winning five of those.
Cambridge United are 25/1 to win League 2 outright next season, while they are 13/2 to win promotion. The U’s are 8/1 to be relegated back to the Conference at the first time.
These odds are with Sky Bet, our betting partner.