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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 December 2007, 16:10 GMT
Quinn targets Football League return
By Pete Oliver

Jimmy Quinn
Quinn's side recorded a sequence of 12 games unbeaten

Since the days of Championship football, FA Cup quarter-finals and maverick manager John Beck, Cambridge United have quietly slipped off the football map.

The U's have fallen so far from grace over the past 15 years that their status as the county's number-one football team had even been called into question.

Cambridge City and Histon had both threatened to overhaul their former Football League neighbours as the prospect of relegation from the Blue Square Premier loomed less than 12 months ago.

But now thanks to a Jimmy Quinn-led revival, the U's are bouncing back with a promotion challenge going hand-in-hand with a run to the third round of the FA Cup.

A club record sequence of 12 games unbeaten marked the start of their league campaign and the win that earned Cambridge a Cup trip to Wolves was their sixth on the trot.

"We have played 24 games with one defeat, you can't get much better than that," said Quinn, whose belief in the club he joined last September is now being realised.

We've probably got the best goalkeeper at our level and Scott Rendell can't stop scoring

Jimmy Quinn

"It is one of the teams in this division that is a former League club with great support," Quinn told BBC Sport.

"It was just a matter of getting the right personnel, which we didn't have when I first came. It's not rocket science.

"If you have decent players you will win more games, although there is a bit more to it than that. You are dealing with individuals and you have to suss out what makes them tick.

"You've also got to be organised and it's all a lot better than when I got here."

It was not an overnight fix for Quinn, whose own jacket was on a shaky peg at the turn of the year following a run of six straight defeats.

But the former Reading, Swindon, Shrewsbury and Northwich manager held his nerve and after a strong finish kept Cambridge up before re-building his squad over the summer.

"We have got a good blend now," Quinn added. "We have kept it tight at the back, we've probably got the best goalkeeper at our level and Scott Rendell can't stop scoring."

Scott Rendell
Rendell has scored 15 goals this season

Rendell, who has 15 goals this season, had previously scored at Blue Square level during loan spells from Reading before becoming one of a dozen new signings Quinn made in the close season.

Homegrown players like Michael Morrison, Darren Quinton and Daniel Gleeson now sit comfortably alongside seasoned ex-League pros in Mark Peters, Mark Albrighton and Leo Fortune-West.

Rob Wolleaston, Courtney Pitt, Mark Convery and Lee Boylan fall somewhere in between, while latest loan recruit Paul Carden is a former Blue Square winner.

That strength in depth has helped Quinn's side overcome some fairly major injury problems while barely breaking stride in racking up their long unbeaten runs.

Despite those, and with the league about to break until after Christmas for FA Trophy and Setanta Shield action, the U's still remain among those chasing the one automatic promotion place.

Quinn, though, is happy to be on the shoulder of the leaders until they hit the finishing straight.

"We have drawn eight games and should have won six of them but there is still a long way to go," said the former Northern Ireland international.

"Aldershot are out in front at the moment but the telling time will be what positions we are in at the end of February, start of March.

"There is an added pressure at the top of the league. You can lose one then you sometimes lose a few. Aldershot are doing very well but it's about whether they have got the experience to keep going right to the end."

606: DEBATE
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Cambridge's progress has revived interest in the city with the U's second-round cup tie against Weymouth attracting a crowd of 4,600 and forcing a delayed kick-off at the Abbey Stadium to get them all in.

Many will now head off to Molineux with Quinn, manager of the month for November, delighted to have the prospect of a big tie against Championship opposition on the horizon in January.

"It's great because the players want to play on that stage so they have got to keep performing. They know they can't drop their levels," said the former Blackburn, Reading, West Ham and Swindon striker, 48.

"I have played there many times and it's a great stadium. But Wolverhampton Wanderers is just a name. It will be 11 versus 11, we have some experienced players in the right areas and I don't see why we can't nick a result there and get them back to our place.

"It's the first time we've had a run for a while and everybody is excited about it. We will be taking a few thousand and it will be great for everyone."

Cambridge, who dropped out of the League in 2005 and went through a period in administration, have much to look forward to and Quinn is determined to make sure it stays that way.

"That's the important thing. There's a lot of hard work has gone in to getting us into this position," he said.

"It would be a travesty if we let that slip and took our foot off the gas."

SEE ALSO
Cambridge 1-0 Weymouth
01 Dec 07 |  FA Cup
Cambridge boss Quinn wins award
30 Nov 07 |  Cambridge Utd
Quinn signs new Cambridge deal
08 Nov 07 |  Cambridge Utd


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