Cheltenham Town 3-4 Exeter City: Five things we learned at Whaddon Road

Cheltenham Town lost for the third time in League Two this season as Exeter City emerged victorious in a seven goal thriller at Whaddon Road.

Kevin Dawson put the hosts 2-0 up but Exeter fought back through goals from Jordan Moore-Taylor, Jake Taylor and a double from Ruben Reid.

Dan Holman pulled one back for Cheltenham but it wasn’t enough to stop the Grecians topping League Two after four games.

Here are five things learned as Cheltenham slipped into the bottom two.

If Oxford away was seven goal heaven then this was seven goal hell for Cheltenham

The Robins staged a stunning second half comeback to win 4-3 at Oxford United in the Carabao Cup first round earlier on this month, but it was a case of the complete opposite against Exeter City.

Cheltenham flew out of the blocks and stifled the visitors, using lessons learnt from West Ham in how to move the ball quickly and effectively switch the play.

Many would have expected the hammering that would ensue to happen against the Premier League outfit that Gary Johnson’s side faced midweek, rather than against League Two opposition the following weekend.



Exeter led 4-2 after going 2-0 down before Holman netted a late consolation for CTFC


But Exeter fought back well, living up to their billings as one of the fourth division’s top teams with some well taken goals.

The Grecians admirably stuck to their guns and rather than playing route one in an attempt to get back into the game, they kept the ball down and played some tidy football.

In Ruben Reid and Liam McAlinden, the 2016/17 League Two play-off finalists  have a pair of savvy strikers and a very well drilled team who will undoubtedly challenge for promotion once again this season.

The Exeter City curse continues

Cheltenham have not beaten Exeter City in any of their last six competitive meetings.

The Grecians’ comeback victory means that they have now won five in a row against Cheltenham and have subsequently been labelled as a bogey team for the Robins, despite having never beaten them before 2013.

Paul Tisdale’s side are no doubt the benchmark for a Cheltenham squad who face an uphill battle to avoid a campaign of struggle, much like last season.

That being said there were many positives including the attacking potential that was shown by scoring three goals, including a much needed confidence boost for Dan Holman.

But the individual errors have to be cut out first and foremost and that will go a long way in stopping the flurry of goals that have been conceded in a busy first month of the 2017/18 season for Gary Johnson’s men.

Double delight for Kevin Dawson despite being short lived

For half an hour, Cheltenham Town were in complete control against Paul Tisdale’s Exeter City.

Kevin Dawson showed exactly why Gary Johnson swooped to sign him all the way back in May with two goals in the opening 12 minutes.

It was a dream full debut for the 27-year-old, who along with Carl Winchester, gave Exeter no end of trouble down the right hand side.

Cheltenham capitulated before half time but the overall performance of Dawson will give supporters encouragement that the Irishman will surely be a key asset in future matches.

Dawson was part of Johnson’s Yeovil revolution, helping the Glovers reach the Championship at one stage, and that brace already leaves him one off of his whole goal tally for last season.

Back under the management of Johnson, Dawson could thrive as one of the few natural wide players at the club.

Everything went flat for the Robins after 39 minutes

The LCI Rail Stadium was bouncing after Kevin Dawson had put Cheltenham 2-0 up.

But that jubilation soon turned to nervous silence as Jordan Moore-Taylor curled a free-kick beyond the reach of Cheltenham keeper Jon Flatt and into the top corner.

Flatt could have perhaps done better with the first two Exeter goals, but Cheltenham’s defensive problems don’t just lie with the Wolves loanee, as the third and fourth goals proved.



The dejected Cheltenham players applaud the home fans after the full time whistle


The 22-year-old made some good saves during the second half but has been subject to criticism from home supporters over the last few weeks.

Perhaps we have been spoiled with top goalkeepers at Whaddon Road recently but what was more concerning was how easily Cheltenham fell apart after surrendering their early lead.

The defence was not an area that was anticipated to need tightening up after Jamie Grimes and Jordan Forster joined Will Boyle and Daniel O’Shaughnessy as first choice centre back options in the summer.

But with Forster now facing a long term absence through injury and Grimes banned after receiving a straight red card, Johnson faces a defensive crisis and could be forced to sign cover on loan before the transfer window slams shut on Thursday.

Next week is crucial for Cheltenham Town with the transfer deadline looming

The Cheltenham squad is small enough as it is but after the Exeter game reinforcements can’t come soon enough for Gary Johnson.

As mentioned before a defender is likely to come in due to the absence of at least two centre backs ahead of the clash with Stevenage next weekend, in what is certain to be busy few days for the management team.

The cash generated from the money spinning West Ham tie will help find what fans hope will be good quality players to add to the thin number of playing staff currently available.

Last January the recruitment had to be spot on in order to turn the season around and fortunately led the Robins to safety.

But with no emergency loans this season, there has to be enough cover to get the team through the hectic schedule of League Two and Checkatrade Trophy fixtures.

Whether they are loans or permanent additions, there is no doubt that an influx of at least two or three new signings are needed if Cheltenham are to start climbing the table.



Cheltenham Town v West Ham United: Five other times that the Robins have faced Premier League opponents in cup competitions

Cheltenham Town’s reward for their Carabao Cup victory at Oxford United is a lucrative home tie against Premier League West Ham.

Gary Johnson’s side will play the Hammers at Whaddon Road in just a couple of weeks after coming from behind to beat the U’s 4-3 in the first round.

It’s a dream fixture for supporters and everyone at the club due to the injection of extra-finances, a bumper crowd and potentially even the prospect of being on TV.

Cheltenham have come up against the East London outfit before and it won’t be the first time that they have faced top flight opposition.

Here are five other times where the Robins have rubbed shoulders with some of the best clubs in the country.

Fulham 2-1 Cheltenham Town- 2003/04

Back in January 2004, Cheltenham Town earned the right to face Premiership side Fulham in the FA Cup third round.

John Ward’s Cheltenham saw off both Hull City and Leyton Orient 3-1 at home to set up a trip to Loftus Road, and after a gutsy display, very nearly forced a replay.

The Robins, who were in League One at the time, took a shock lead courtesy of a fine strike from Grant McCann.

But Louis Saha scored a brace to turn the game on its head and seal the win for Fulham against a team 83 places below them.


Louis Saha eventually left Fulham for Manchester United

Nonetheless Cheltenham left West London with their heads held high after narrowly losing out to the eventual FA Cup quarter-finalists.

Cheltenham Town 0-2 Newcastle United- 2005/06

A fantastic FA Cup run led Cheltenham to the fourth round where they faced top flight giants Newcastle United at Whaddon Road.

7022 fans packed into the stadium to see the Magpies emerge victorious thanks to goals from Michael Chopra and Scott Parker.


The tie was broadcast live on BBC One and the stands were full of inflatables and balloons to see the Robins bow out respectfully after beating Carlisle, Chester and Oxford in the earlier rounds.

However it was to be a successful season overall for the Robins as they secured promotion via the League Two play-off final, defeating Grimsby Town 1-0 in Cardiff.

Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 Cheltenham Town- 2011/12

A thrilling 4-2 second round win at Luton Town set Cheltenham Town up with a trip to Tottenham in round three.

5000 Robins fans made the long trip to White Hart Lane to witness an exciting fixture where England international Jermain Defoe netted alongside Roman Pavlyuchenko and Giovani dos Santos.

Spurs CTFC

The squad of 2011/12 were very highly regarded and included players such as Marlon Pack, Jack Butland and Luke Garbutt.

Mark Yates’ men returned to North London at the end of the season and lost again, this time to Crewe in the League Two play-off final.

Cheltenham Town 1-5 Everton- 2012/13

Just one year after their meeting with Spurs, Cheltenham struck gold again, this time drawing Everton in the FA Cup third round after a dramatic replay win over Hereford.

Live on BT Sport, the Robins were put to the sword by a very strong Toffees line-up selected by manager David Moyes.

Five different scorers helped record a comfortable victory for Everton, as stars such as Nikica Jelavic, Marouane Fellaini, Leighton Baines, Leon Osman and Seamus Coleman all found the net at Whaddon Road.

Russell Penn did manage a deserved consolation for Cheltenham, but they were well beaten on the night.

CTFC Everton

West Ham United 2-1 Cheltenham Town- 2013/14

Perhaps ironically, Cheltenham’s last meeting with a Premier League side was against West Ham.

In what was sure to be their one and only visit to Upton Park, Cheltenham performed admirably in front of 23,440 fans, 1,500 of which travelled from Gloucestershire.

Ricardo Vaz Te and Ravel Morrison scored either side of half time to put the Irons ahead but Matt Richards’ penalty gave the Cheltenham fans something to cheer.

Despite a few late chances, Cheltenham fell to a defeat in the League Cup second round and that is the stage where Gary Johnson’s side will once again showdown with West Ham in a fortnight.

Oxford United 3-4 Cheltenham Town: Five things we learned as the Robins staged a stunning comeback at the Kassam Stadium

Cheltenham Town caused an upset by beating Oxford United 4-3 away from home in the Carabao Cup.

Gary Johnson’s side battled back from 3-1 down to level the tie at three goals each before exciting new signing Mohamed Eisa curled in a beauty to settle the match.

Here are five things we learned as Cheltenham booked their place in round two and secured a first win of the season.

The new look Robins finally give the supporters something to cheer about

Despite what was perceived to be a poor pre-season, Cheltenham Town have shown steady signs of improvement in each of their two competitive fixtures.

After the late defeat at Morecambe in their League Two opener on Saturday, few would have expected a positive result at the home of a team who have hopes of reaching the Championship this season.

3-1 down at the interval, the Robins must have been listening to the Madness record which was booming out of the PA system at half time because they certainly went one step beyond in the second half.

After fighting back to deservedly draw level in 90 minutes, Mohamed Eisa produced a moment of brilliance in extra time to win the game and send his side through to the Carabao Cup second round.

It was a fantastic night for the travelling supporters, who sang their hearts out all game.

With a potential tie against Premier League opposition possible in the next round, the fans may yet have more to shout about after the draw.

Oxford were outfought and outplayed

Cheltenham’s trio of central midfielders had a superb night in Oxford.

Kyle Storer and Nigel Atangana broke up play and tackled hard to retain possession on more than one occasion and Harry Pell helped change the game when he came on for the second 45.

But one man particularly stood out in the middle and that was Jerell Sellars.

The former Aston Villa product was a constant menace to the U’s and drew a number of fouls due to his fancy footwork and ability to squeeze out of tight situations.

Sellars really excelled when playing just behind the front two and was also not afraid to help out with the dirty work when tracking back and making challenges deep inside his own half.

In truth Cheltenham dominated the midfield which was a great achievement against higher placed opposition and surely provides optimism that one area is well stocked for Gary Johnson when he looks to add to his squad before the end of August.

Cheltenham prove that they can go the distance

At Morecambe and in nearly every single friendly this summer Gary Johnson’s side have performed in the first half but not the second.

But a spirited second half performance saved them from defeat against an Oxford team who didn’t really get out of second gear.


The freekick that led to Mohamed Eisa’s opener

Mohamed Eisa, Harry Pell and Jordan Forster all had chances to net when attacking the ‘fence end’ but Danny Wright’s double was enough to force another half an hour of action.

Cheltenham have looked tired in the later stages of recent matches but managed to maintain a steady and consistent level of energy as a unit right the way through until the 120th minute against Pep Clotet’s men.

Gary Johnson looks to have found his double act

The gaffer has made it no secret that he is after another striker this summer.

Dan Holman started instead of Danny Wright but was unable to influence the game and was eventually replaced by the 32-year-old at the Kassam.

With Mo Eisa looking sharp after heading in the opener and already netting prolifically in pre-season as well as on his EFL debut, Wright showed exactly why he is currently the best partner for the former non-league hot shot.

The experienced number nine demonstrated good hold up play and like Eisa, scored a brace, surely cementing his place alongside the 22-year-old for the time being.

The pace and flair of Eisa compliments Wright’s target man stature and it is likely both will start against Crawley at the weekend.

As for Holman, everyone at the club is desperate for the National League title winning hero to rediscover his fine form but with another front man on the way his position could be under threat in the coming weeks.

Cut out the individual errors and this team will thrive

A catalogue of defensive errors saw Cheltenham ship 14 goals in pre-season and poor defending allowed Garry Thompson to steal in and grab the winner for Morecambe last Saturday.

Despite going ahead, a poorly timed challenge from the otherwise excellent Kyle Storer lead to the Oxford equaliser from the spot.


Marvin Johnson prepares to take his penalty which he scores at the second attempt

A weak header back to goalkeeper Jon Flatt was then punished by Jonathan Obika to give the hosts a 2-1 lead within minutes, even without many clear cut chances created by themselves.

The Robins have to cut out these avoidable errors if they are to climb League Two and stop conceding so many goals but the second half display from the back five was encouraging enough.

Jordan Cranston had another good game after an improved cameo versus the Shrimps and delivered an excellent cross to set up Danny Wright’s first goal.


The left back is so far answering his critics and succeeding in his mission to win over some supporters and long may that continue.

Morecambe v Cheltenham Town: A focus on the Shrimps

This coming weekend will see Cheltenham Town travel to Morecambe for their long awaited opening Sky Bet League Two fixture.

The Robins will make the long trip up to Lancashire on Friday ahead of Saturday’s meeting at the Globe Arena.


But what can we expect from their opponents on the opening day of the 2017/18 campaign?

Player to watch

There are a few long serving players still at Morecambe and one of those is 38-year-old forward Kevin Ellison.

Contrary to his age, Ellison has been one the Shrimps’ top performers since joining the club in 2011.

The well travelled winger has played for 12 clubs in his career but is fast becoming a Morecambe legend and netted nine times last season.

He is certainly one to keep an eye on and is also partial to scoring a few special goals with controversial celebrations.


Jim Bentley has brought in eight new players so far this summer, the most recent being defensive pair Steven Old and Scott Lavelle.

Amongst the other signings is vastly experienced striker Garry Thompson who returns to the club from Wycombe. The 36-year-old was on target for the Chairboys against Cheltenham during a thrilling 3-3 draw at Adams Park in April.

Thompson is joined by two other forwards including promising former Newcastle and Notts County youngster Adam Campbell as well as Vadaine Oliver from York City.


Full backs Mitchell Lund and Patrick Brough have also signed from Doncaster and Carlisle respectively.

In terms of high profile departures, highly regarded centre back Ryan Edwards has moved south with Plymouth Argyle and Paul Mullin has left to link up with David Flitcroft at Swindon Town.


The two sides first met in the FA Cup back in 2008 when Cheltenham ran out 3-2 winners in a rearranged second round tie at Christie Park.

Ashley Vincent scored twice and John Finnigan netted from the spot whilst former Robin Barry Hayles was on target for the hosts.

Cheltenham and Morecambe have met a further 15 times since and this will be the Robins’ seventh visit to the Globe Arena since it opened in August 2010.

The most recent encounter in Lancashire was last season when Gary Johnson’s side came from a goal behind to beat a 10-man Morecambe 2-1 in mid-December.

Cheltenham also emerged victorious at Whaddon Road in April, as a 3-1 victory helped stretch their unbeaten run against the Shrimps to eight games.

Harry Pell scored three of the five goals netted against Jim Bentley’s team in 2016/17 and the 27-year-old is likely to start against them once more this weekend.


Morecambe won four out of their opening five League Two fixtures last season and usually start well.

But Cheltenham’s recent form against the Lancashire outfit will give travelling Robins fans some optimism ahead of their Sky Bet League Two curtain raiser, despite a difficult pre-season.

Head to Head:

Morecambe wins- 3

Cheltenham wins- 8

Draws- 5