The Opposition View: Cambridge United

Last updated : 25 February 2016 By Jim Bonner

Let's talk about the reverse fixture first, shall we? A little controversial, wasn't it?

You could say that! We were 1-0 up at half time then there was a bit of a scuffle which resulted in our captain, Mark Roberts, and your coach being sent off. Unfortunately, it was only Roberts who was originally on the pitch so our punishment was more severe - we ended up losing the game 3-1.

The incident happened right in front of me. Roberts was very silly and should know better however I would say that the Portsmouth coaching staff didn't exactly endear themselves to Cambridge fans!

What do you make of Cambridge's season so far and is promotion a realistic target?

It's been underwhelming and disappointing. After the summer of high profile signings, we all expected to be in and around the play offs all season. Richard Money's departure had to happen really although we all recognise him as a legend and that made his downfall more painful for everyone.

Since Shaun Derry came in we've had a mixture of good and bad performances but more good than bad and we've taken 27 points from 16 games which has put us right on the very edge of the play off picture. Is promotion a realistic target? No, not really. But we have an outside shot and while that's still the case, we can still dream, can't we?

Did Richard Money deserve the sack and how has Shaun Derry done since being appointed?

Yes, Money did deserve the sack. After the Man Utd cup game last season, we won 8 games from 41 which is relegation form really. Still very sad and the fact he still had some supporters shows how highly he was regarded by Cambridge fans.

Shaun Derry has done a good job so far. As mentioned, 27 points from 16 games is good in the context of a very even league. He's identified some weak points and made changes, particularly in goal, central defence and central midfield. He's also had to contend with losing Barry Corr to injury and replacing those goals has been tough but he seems to have found a solution with Ben Williamson from Gillingham and Jimmy Spencer from Notts County joining.

How has James Dunne performed since his move to Cambridge?

He has been excellent and exactly what we needed. He actually gives us decent balance and allows the likes of Luke Berry to bomb forward more freely. I understand he's under contract with us until the end of the season and I hope we can pin him down for next season, regardless of which league we find ourselves in.

What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of your team and who are the key players at this stage of the campaign?

I'd say we have one of the best left wingers in the league in Harrison Dunk. His form has been excellent for quite some time now and when he plays well, the whole team tends to play well. Luke Berry is now having a greater impact on us going forward and that's a massive positive for us as he's such a wonderful footballer.

Our defence is very much a work in progress. Only Leon Legge from our back 5 has survived from Richard Money's time to Shaun Derry's team now and therefore they are still finding their way of playing together. This is borne out by the lack of clean sheets we've achieved under Derry. Also we are prone to the odd rotten performance from time to time which does make you question how on earth we ever win any games!

What kind of match can we expect at Fratton Park on Saturday?

I would expect us to line up as we did at Leyton Orient so 4-5-1 with the aim of keeping the score level, hoping to frustrate Portsmouth and get the fans on the team's back. Then maybe we will be a bit more expansive in the second half. We're a reasonable counter attacking side so it suits us to "sit in" and invite the opposition on rather than to take the game to our opponents.

Given Pompey's current form and lack of arch-nemesis Tubbs, how confident are you of getting a result this weekend and would you take a draw?

Thank god Tubbs has gone! Every time we've played against Tubbs (whether at Salisbury, Crawley, Wimbledon or Portsmouth) he has scored goals against us. In fact his last two trips to Cambridge have resulted in two hattricks. So we're delighted he's not playing on Saturday.

That said, Portsmouth are a good side who just happen to be out of form at the moment. I still expect them to finish in the play offs and therefore a draw would be a very good result. Unfortunately I don't think a draw would do either of us much good in our respective play off ambitions. I think we can reasonably confident of "getting a result" as we do tend to travel well.

Predict the outcome of the game.

I'm feeling optimistic so I am going for 1-0 to Cambridge.