Pompey v Cambridge United: The Insider

Ryan LedsonRyan Ledson
Ryan Ledson
Cambridge United are three points adrift of the play-offs, which reflects the positive impact of Shaun Derry.

With Richard Money at the helm, the whole picture wasn’t too great, stretching back to last season.

Since drawing against Manchester United in the FA Cup last season they won around eight out of the next 40 matches, so the rut was there for all to see.

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The club felt its squad was not fulfilling their potential and something needed to be done.

Derry arrived in November and the team is playing with more attacking confidence, certainly they suggest more than one goal will be scored in a game.

The squad has been altered quite dramatically since Pompey last faced the U’s back in September, with Derry freshening things up.

Ben Williamson has provided the biggest impact with seven goals since recruited by the manager, with his loan spell from Gillingham soon turned permanent.

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Another is Ryan Ledson – a teenage midfielder on loan from Everton who is all-action, runs himself into the ground, makes tackles and also has an eye for a pass.

In goal, Sam Beasant and Chris Dunn had enjoyed good games but largely struggled for consistency, so Will Norris was recalled from his loan spell at Braintee in January.

The 22-year-old was still training with Cambridge at the time so Derry knew all about him, and since returning has played seven straight matches.

Another Derry recruit has been James Dunne from Pompey, giving them more bite in midfield and extra protection in front of the back four.

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Overall, he has done really well and it is a shame a gentleman’s agreement means he cannot face his former club on Saturday.

Regardless, Dunne’s arrival has been beneficial.

He has done well, and Ryan Donaldson could replace him against Pompey.

At the start of the season the club line didn’t centre on going for promotion – more like building a team capable of challenging for promotion.

Yet this is the second season back in the Football League and this is not a club happy to come 15/16 in the league. They remain ambitious.

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There has been development off the field, with improvements to the stadium and money invested into training facilities.

Back in January 2015 they took Manchester United to a replay in the FA Cup, playing at Old Trafford, and a third of that has been put to one side for the future development of the club.