From the press box: Cambridge United

Shaun Derry. Photo: Cambridge News

Shaun Derry. Photo: Cambridge News - Credit: Archant

Stevenage host Cambridge United this weekend so the Comet asked Michael Vaughton of the Cambridge News for his opinion of their season so far.

Luke Berry. Photo: Cambridge News

Luke Berry. Photo: Cambridge News - Credit: Archant

Shaun Derry has now had three months in charge. What’s the verdict?

Derry has settled in very quickly at the Abbey, rapidly putting his stamp on the team and recruiting a number of new faces.

He has very high standards and expects a lot from his players, but he also comes across as very rational and realistic, and he always tries to take the positives from every match.

His recent experience of having played in the Premier League seems to have rubbed off on a number of the players, with many of those who were at the club under former manager Richard Money raising their game.

Is the league position a true reflection of how things are going?

I think so, as being in contention for a play-off place is probably what they deserve for their efforts so far.

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They have picked up some excellent results under Derry, including victories on the road at Plymouth and Leyton Orient, and they just need to become a bit more consistent on their home turf and then they will be in with a real chance of hauling themselves into the top seven come the end of the season.

Have Cambridge United changed much since the last time the two sides met back in September, and since Shaun’s arrival?

The team have been playing with more attacking threat since Derry took charge and look far more likely to score two or more goals in a game now.

Also, if they fall behind you don’t always fear the worst, whereas before you didn’t always fancy them to stage a comeback in matches.

Money did a brilliant job at the club, but they never seemed to get over their hangover following the Manchester United games in the FA Cup last winter and the change probably came at the right time.

Former Royston Town goalkeeper Will Norris is now the No.1 after his loan spell at Braintree was cut short, and the full-backs Darnell Furlong and Lewis Page are both promising youngsters on loan from QPR and West Ham respectively.

How are Stevenage’s old boys doing?

Mark Roberts began the season as captain, but he has since been dropped to the bench in favour of Josh Coulson.

The other centre-back Leon Legge has been superb for much of the season, so Roberts has been the one to make way as Derry attempts to tighten up the defence and get a few more clean sheets.

Sam Beasant managed to force his way past Chris Dunn to become the first-choice keeper, but, despite making some good saves and having some solid performances, the odd mistake put his place in doubt and Norris has taken his chance well so far.

James Dunne has been impressive since arriving and added extra steel to the midfield, but Jordan Slew has left the club after failing to make much of an impression.

Who is the United danger man?

Luke Berry has replaced Roberts as the skipper and is probably the one to watch.

The midfielder, who came through the Abbey youth ranks, has really matured since returning to the club in the summer following a one-season stay at Barnsley in League One, and he has become an all-round player, making tackles, being creative and scoring important goals.

Striker Ben Williamson will also need to be watched by the Stevenage defence, while Harrison Dunk is always a threat on the left wing.

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