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Ipswich Town provide another 'headline-grabbing' fixture for Cambridge United

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Cambridge United boss Mark Bonner is looking forward to seeing his side pit themselves against in-form Ipswich Town at Portman Road on Saturday (3pm).

The play-off hunting Tractor Boys are one of Sky Bet League One's top performing teams at present having lost none of their last 11 outings, six of which have ended in victories.

The U’s supporters have sold out their allocation of 2,007, and more than 23,500 tickets have been purchased in total for what is shaping up to be an intriguing East Anglian derby.

Cambridge United head coach Mark Bonner. Picture: Simon Lankester
Cambridge United head coach Mark Bonner. Picture: Simon Lankester

“I think when you look at the fixtures at the start, there was certainly a batch at the end of the season that you looked at as headline-grabbing fixtures,” said United head coach Bonner.

“They’re ones that, firstly, players have probably been looking for from the start of the fixture list when they came out, but certainly supporters have been.

“We get a couple of games towards the end of the season where we get to go against some really top teams, some iconic grounds, and it’s certainly one to really look forward to.

“I hope the players thrive in that atmosphere against such a good side that have done so well since Kieran (McKenna) has gone in and taken over the team, and have still got a chance of the play-offs, and that we go and give the best account of ourselves, and enjoy the atmosphere and the intensity of what the game will look like.

“We know when we play the top teams what these games can be, so it’s certainly one to be at the top of our game for and to be really focused for, and one that I know over 2,000 Cambridge fans are going to, so I’m sure it’s one that they’re looking forward to as well.”

Paul Cook was sacked as Ipswich manager in December, after a goalless draw with League Two side Barrow in the FA Cup.

Kieran McKenna was appointed to the role on December 16, having previously been the first-team coach at Manchester United.

Their last defeat was on January 29 to Sheffield Wednesday, and that was only one of two defeats since McKenna has been at the helm.

“They’ve had an incredible number of clean sheets, results and wins, and they’ve made huge progress in the way that they’re playing, and the results that they’ve got,” said Bonner.

“They are still in contention for the places, which, let’s be honest, they should be getting promoted automatically.

“There’s no surprise that they are in the fight for the promotion places. The surprise probably was that they were so far away from that earlier in the season, but they’ve recovered that brilliantly, as you’d expect.

“They’ve got a lot of options in the squad, and the way in which they’re playing is very good to watch in fairness. It’s been good watching them in the last week and really trying to study them.

“We watched them play recently against Plymouth, who were six clean sheets on the bounce going into the game. We watched them play against Portsmouth, we watched them play against Oxford, in recent games they’ve played, and they’ve done very well against those.

“We know how tough the task is for the game, but I think not only this game signifies that but probably the pattern of the season when we’ve played the top teams.

“We’ve got to be at our very best and be a competitive team in the game to give ourselves a chance of taking something from it.

“They are chasing something and have got their eyes on trying to get in those play-off positions, and they’ve certainly got the talent and the team to do that at the moment.”

Bonner added: “It’s a really challenging afternoon for us, but one we have to make the most of and try to hit the best level that we can.”