Yeovil Town 0-0 Cheltenham Town: Five things we learned (on and off the pitch) at Huish Park

Cheltenham Town picked up their first away point of the season despite dominating Yeovil Town at Huish Park.

Danny Wright and Mo Eisa in particular had chances to win the game but were unable to break the deadlock.

Here are five things we learned from the stalemate in Sky Bet League Two.

Cheltenham Town should have won in hindsight

When Freddie Hinds broke away from the Yeovil defence to go one on one with Artur Krysiak in the 90th minute, the travelling Robins fans thought that they would see their team win on the road for the first time since February.

But as the Bristol City loanee hit the side netting, the resulting sigh of disbelief summed up what could have been for a Cheltenham side who deserved nothing less than all three points.

Gary Johnson’s team carried on from their encouraging display in the 1-0 defeat against Stevenage the previous week and comfortably enjoyed more possession than their hosts.

Five of the 10 shots Cheltenham had on goal were on target but a lack of clinical edge meant that they failed to score for a second week in a row, prompting Johnson to reflect on what he believed was “two points dropped” in Somerset.

The draw moves the Robins up to 21st place but ahead of another away trip on Tuesday, they really should have emerged victorious.

A change in shape hints at a change in fortune for the Robins

There was just one change to the starting 11 as Jamie Grimes replaced Will Boyle in defence but a small tactical alteration saw Cheltenham line up 4-3-3 instead of 4-4-2 at Huish Park.

It immediately became apparent that the tweak in system suited the visitors. Harry Pell impressed in a more central role that he is renowned for thriving in, dictating play alongside Kyle Storer and the lively Joe Morrell, who shone on his second appearance for the club.

Pell’s driving runs reminded supporters of what the 25-year-old is capable of having struggled to make an impact out wide in recent matches.

The extra man in the middle also aided Cheltenham in having more of the ball. The interchangeable front line made a few positive runs as the pace of Eisa, Hinds, Jaanai Gordon and former Yeovil winger Kevin Dawson had the Glovers’ backline retreating but after Danny Wright was replaced early on all that was missing was a target man for the wide men to pick out.

Nonetheless there were plenty of positives to take into what is sure to be a tougher test at Newport on Tuesday, and the return of Jerell Sellars will give the squad another lift.

Both sides earned an unexpected clean sheet

For two teams who have shipped nearly 30 goals between them during their first five League Two matches, a 0-0 draw was the last result anyone would have expected.

But a second clean sheet of the campaign for both of the south western clubs provides optimism that their defensive woes are steadily improving, especially for Cheltenham.

Goalkeeper Scott Flinders did not have a serious save to make and was not troubled until midway through the second half when Otis Khan had Yeovil’s one and only attempt on target.

Fullbacks Jordan Cranston and Carl Winchester were superb, Cranston especially continued to prove his doubters wrong with another fine display on the left flank.

Cranko OX

Jamie Grimes and Taylor Moore dealt with 99% of what they were faced with and stifled all five of the attacking players that Darren Way used in an attempt to try and break through the stubborn Cheltenham back four.

Even though Gary Johnson’s side could not score, the gaffer will surely be pleased with how well his side shut his former club out.

The Glovers have a safe pair of hands between the sticks

Yeovil goalkeeper Artur Krysiak was deservedly awarded with the man of the match accolade after making a string of fine saves on a sunny afternoon in Somerset.

At times the Polish stopper almost single handily kept his team in the match.

The 28-year-old denied Cranston who surged forward and unleashed a rasping shot that was pushed over, before parrying a long range effort from Jaanai Gordon in what was an even busier second half for the former Exeter City number one.

Krysiak then pulled off a superb double save to block Eisa when the Sudan-born striker raced into the six yard box unchallenged, then tipping Gordon’s rebound over the bar with the ball destined for the top corner.

Clearly the arrival of a new goalkeeping coach has benefitted his display.

There was plenty of action off the pitch too

It was an afternoon of frustration for Cheltenham striker Danny Wright.

The much travelled forward missed two great opportunities to give his side the lead, heading wide early on before squandering a great chance when Mohamed Eisa hit the post.

The 32-year-old was substituted half way through the first half and appeared to smash a hole into the dugout in anger. Despite the damage this shows the passion of a someone who is eager to make an impact in what could be his final Football League season.

Rest assured Wright’s professionalism will shine through and he will come back stronger for the Robins.

There was an altercation in the stands too as a noise complaint from Yeovil supporters prompted stewards to remove the visiting Cheltenham fans’ drum, despite the fact permission had been given to use it.

All credit must be given to the 220 away fans who continued to make most of the noise despite having their instrument removed.

Improving poor away form is key to a better season for Cheltenham Town this year

With just one victory from their opening five games, Cheltenham Town sit bottom of League Two with just three points and they now face the daunting task of back to back away trips at Yeovil Town and Newport County.

Away form is a real problem for Gary Johnson’s side, who have struggled to get positive results at other grounds since their promotion back to the Football League two years ago.

Despite entertaining triumphs in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup over the last 12 months, picking up points in the league has proved to be a banana skin for a team who tend to struggle outside of Gloucestershire.

They have won just four out of their last 24 league matches on the road, with the last victory coming 10 matches ago at Leyton Orient in February.

That baron run stretches right back to the start of last season and it’s a statistic that simply has to improve if Cheltenham are to avoid another battle for survival come May.

Cheltenham would have been relegated back to the National League had it not been for the three key home victories against Morecambe, Grimsby Town and Hartlepool United in April.

Home form made all the difference on what was described by Johnson as their “cabbage patch” due to the worn state of the Whaddon Road turf last season.

But with a pristine playing surface for the 2017/18 campaign, it will take more than just relying on home comforts this time around.

 

 

IMG_2305

The Carabao Cup win at Oxford was a rare treat for fans

 

 

It took until late October for the Robins to register their first away victory at Grimsby in 2016/17 but the need for maximum points at an earlier stage is required as six precious points are up for grabs in the next five days.  

First up is this Saturday’s relatively short trip to Somerset where Yeovil Town will provide stern opposition after winning both of their home fixtures so far this term.

Huish Park has not been a happy hunting ground for Cheltenham in recent years, where they last emerged with all three points courtesy of a 1-0 win in 2006.

darren way

Darren Way’s Yeovil Town stand in the way of Cheltenham Town this weekend

 

Last September the Glovers ran out 4-2 winners there and despite defensive fragilities, Darren Way’s outfit are very sharp going forward. Keeping a clean sheet may therefore be very difficult for a CTFC side who have shipped  a total of eight goals in their three competitive away games this season.

High flying Newport is another tough away trip for the players on Tuesday evening, but Cheltenham have never lost an EFL meeting there and Robins’ fans can look forward to two of their shortest journeys in the coming week.

Despite the disappointing start, the closeness of Huish Park and Rodney Parade in comparison to most other stadiums in the division is likely to attract a larger than usual away support at both fixtures.

IMG_1210

Over 400 away supporters watched Cheltenham draw 2-2 with Newport last season

 

The supporters will travel and do their part, but the players must also now start to perform and put a winning run together.

Despite losing two home games out of three, it is inevitable that Cheltenham will start winning at home so improving away form has to be a priority if the Robins are to start pushing up the League Two table.

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.

 

IMG_2375

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.

 

IMG_2376

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

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.

IMG_2304

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.

IMG_2306.JPG

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.

Transfers

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.

Vadaine_Oliver_15-08-2015_1

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.

History

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.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

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

Fancy a bet on Cheltenham Town next season? Here are all of the latest odds for the outcome of their League Two campaign

The Sky Bet League Two season is just a fortnight away as Cheltenham Town will travel to the Globe Arena to face Morecambe in their opening fixture on August 5.

Plenty of bets will be being placed on the Robins’ fate ahead of the upcoming campaign, which is their 14th season in English Football’s fourth tier.

Here is a collation of the best odds on the outcome of Cheltenham’s 2017/18 season.

The dreaded dotted line

Last season Cheltenham Town finished in 21st in the table, just two places above the relegation zone.

Gary Johnson’s side avoided a return to the National League by the skin of their teeth and despite reinforcements arriving this summer, the departure of 16 goal striker Billy Waters could lead them towards another season of struggle.

Despite the fact we don’t want to face a similar situation come May 2018, if you fancy us for the drop and want to offset the unthinkable, then the best odds you can get on Cheltenham getting relegated at the moment is 8/1 at Bet365, William Hill and PaddyPower.

A playoff push?

On the other hand, if you are quietly confident of our chances and believe that a playoff push is possible, then 5/1 is the longest odds you can get on a top seven finish with William Hill.

IMG_1958

Gary Johnson is no stranger to success, the 61-year-old has taken Yeovil Town all the way to the Championship in the past and was one game away from taking Bristol City to the Premier League.

Under Mark Yates in 2011/12 and 2012/13 Cheltenham lost out in the playoffs, first in the final to Crewe and then to Northampton in the semi-final a year later. If you think that we can go one further than five years ago, then 28/1 with SkyBet is your most profitable choice if you feel we can win the playoffs.

Champions elect?

League Two is arguably tougher than ever this time around as many big clubs with impressive budgets battle to earn a place in the third tier.

Cheltenham may not have the financial clout to compete with the likes of Luton, Mansfield, Lincoln and Coventry but stranger things have happened in regards to underdogs winning promotion.

Burton Albion and Fleetwood have managed it before and if you are optimistic on a top three finish and automatic promotion then 14/1 is currently the best price according to oddschecker.

For the Whaddon Road outfit to win promotion by any means then 10/1 is a good shout with Bet Victor, Ladbrokes, 10Bet and Stan James.

The Robins have never won League Two but have won the National League on more than one occasion, most recently in 2014/15. But if you believe that we can make history with a first EFL title then a whopping 56/1 with Betfair Exchange is the best bet with most markets offering 40/1.

The ‘Deadly Dans’ to find their form?

Former Robin John Marquis lead the way alongside Barnet’s John Akinde as top scorers in the division last year with 26 goals each.

Billy Waters’ 16 goal contribution for Cheltenham was the Gloucestershire sides best tally. But with the 22-year-old no longer at the club, former non-league hot shot Mohamed Eisa and Jerell Sellars from Aston Villa have been signed in an attempt to add fire to the frontline.

While no odds can currently be found on Eisa marking his debut season in the EFL with a golden boot, Sellars is priced at a massive 150/1 with Bet365 to scoop the accolade. Danny Wright was CTFC’s second top scorer in 2016/17 with 10, while former National League Golden Boot winner Dan Holman struggled with injury and could only manage two.

However the previously nicknamed ‘Deadly Dans’ managed to rack up over 5o goals between them in non-league two years ago. They are both priced at 80/1 with Bet365 to outscore any other League Two player next season.

Other Cheltenham Town League Two betting odds 2017/18

https://www.oddschecker.com/football/english/league-2/winner

To finish top half

3/2 SkyBet

To finish bottom half

4/7 BetFair

To finish outside of top seven

1/6 SkyBet

Top southwest club

7/1 SkyBet, William Hill

(With Swindon, Yeovil, Forest Green, Exeter and Newport

SkyBet RequestABet

To win their opening three League Two games- 14/1

Lose opening three League Two games- 22/1

At least one goal scored in every League Two game- 28/1

To score the most League Two goals- 33/1

Promoted and Forest Green relegated- 125/1

To be promoted and to win the Checkatrade Trophy 750/1

Bishop’s Cleeve 0-6 Cheltenham Town: Five things we learned at Kayte Lane

Cheltenham Town won for the first time this pre-season as a hat-trick from Mohamed Eisa helped them to a 6-0 victory over Bishop’s Cleeve.

All of the first teamers available to Gary Johnson got a run out at Kayte Lane as Carl Winchester, Harry Pell and trialist Mike Fondop-Talom also netted against the Mitres.

Another trialist also featured in red and white, here are five things we learned from the Robins’ friendly rout.

1- It’s hard not to get excited about Eisa

Undoubtedly the main talking point from the match was the performance of Mohamed Eisa.

The former Greenwich Borough striker scored three first half goals before going off at half time and it looks as though Gary Johnson may have unearthed a non-league gem.

The 22-year-old also scored against Oxford City earlier on in the week and has now netted four in two games for the Robins.

IMG_2244

Easy as you like: Eisa celebrates his first goal of the evening

Of course bigger tests against better opposition are yet to come but the Sudan-born speedster has so far shown real confidence and suave, always looking for the ball and wanting to go forward whilst driving at defenders.

Eisa ensured that it was a tough 45 minutes for Bishop’s Cleeve goalkeeper Paul Tassell, showing great pace and skill to beat a defender and then round the veteran stopper before tapping home after just three minutes.

Number two also involved beating a man before smashing underneath Tassell and the third was a deft touch into the bottom corner after a well timed run that saw him put clean through.

It’s early days, but Eisa has been the stand out man in pre-season so far.

 

2- Josh Thomas is handling the step up to first team football well

Former CTFC youth-team captain Josh Thomas made his second appearance since turning professional at Kayte Lane.

Playing out on the right hand side, the 18-year-old managed to deliver some good crosses in the first half, playing a part in Carl Winchester’s goal.

Thomas also offered more of a goal threat when played further forward after the interval, forcing a good save out of Cleeve’s second half keeper Timmy Griffiths, when his shot looked destined for the top corner.

IMG_2248

We will see more of Thomas in the coming pre-season fixtures and all supporters love to see a home grown player doing well.

Fellow recently turned pro’s Matt Bower and Adam Page also featured along with current under-18’s pair Jamie Kilkenny and George Lloyd.

Lloyd is certainly someone to keep an eye out for this coming season, the forward is a regular scorer for Antoine Thompson and Pete Haynes’ Academy side.

3- It was third time lucky for Fondop-Talom

Johnson made seven changes with the half time score at 4-0 and two of those coming on were trialists Elliott Kebbie and Mike Fondop-Talom.

With the Robins seemingly on the hunt for one more striker, likely to be a target man, the athletic looking Fondop-Talom certainly looked physical enough to fit the bill.

However it was a tough 45 minutes for the 6ft 3in former Margate front-man. Despite testing Cleeve’s second half keeper twice in the early stages, Fondop-Talom blazed a close range shot at an open goal over the crossbar.

After being put through one on one, he then sliced wide with the goal gaping but finally scored after winning the ball back in the opposition penalty box, prompting ironic cheers from the supporters behind the goal.

Fondop-Talom is clearly a unit and recently scored twice for Torquay United on trial but will definitely require another look if Johnson decides to keep him at the club a little while longer.

As for Elliott Kebbie, the well travelled former Athletico Madrid man did his job at right back and hardly put a foot wrong, he is likely to play for Cheltenham again and with good reason.

 

4- Cheltenham Town’s defence dominated the air

With Jordon Forster, Will Boyle and Jamie Grimes as the likely first choice centre backs- it’s going to take more than a big man to bully and bombard that Cheltenham back line.

The trio won every single header whilst out on the pitch and all demonstrated good leadership and communication skills, both impressive attributes for such a relatively young set of defenders.

With Dan O’Shaughnessy and Matt Bower added to the mix, the Robins have an imposing and well stocked central defence that will surely only get better under the guidance of Aaron Downes before the Sky Bet League Two season gets underway.

 

5- It was business as usual for wanted man Harry Pell

Reports have been emerging all week linking Harry Pell with a move away from Cheltenham Town.

The 25-year-old is subject to interest from clubs in League One and League Two but the charismatic midfielder was his usual self at Kayte Lane.

After coming on as a second half sub, Pell and central midfield partner Kyle Storer expectedly dictated the play.

Harry Pell

Generated by IJG JPEG Library

Pell was denied by Griffiths when one of his trademark driven free-kicks was parried away but did score the fifth goal with a simple rebound.

Chairman Paul Baker and Cheltenham Town have reaffirmed their intentions to keep Pell at Whaddon Road, despite the lucrative financial reward his departure would bring.

As for now, the former Hereford United and Bristol Rovers man appears to be content in Gloucestershire but you feel as though there could be tougher times ahead for the Robins in their quest to keep him from leaving the club.

Should Cheltenham Town travel abroad for a pre-season tour in the future?

With pre-season well underway most English football teams are embarking on short trips to local lower league clubs in order to prepare for their new league season.

Cheltenham Town have already travelled to Oxford City for their first warm up game and now face two very short trips to Bishops Cleeve and Evesham United.

Meanwhile National League side Wrexham are nearly 1,500 miles away in Portugal, and it’s fair to say that former Robins left-back James Jennings is enjoying their tour in the sun.

 
Most Premier League clubs go on cross-continental tours for pre-season. For example Arsenal are currently in Australia and will soon be in China for the International Champions Cup.

But the furthest Cheltenham will have to travel this month is 60 miles to Weston-Super-Mare, closely followed by 54 miles to Bath.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Close pre-season fixtures are practical and help prepare teams adequately with very little stress, but what harm can be done by taking a trip abroad to experience different climates and environments, not to mention opposition.

It is very well known that Cheltenham Town have a Norwegian fan club, they have made an annual visit to Whaddon Road for the past 14 years and were present to see the last home game of 2016/17 against Hartlepool United, which Cheltenham won 1-0 to secure Football League survival.

There is no reason why Gary Johnson’s side couldn’t travel beyond Britain for pre-season in future years, and Norway could be the perfect destination as it would allow our loyal Scandinavian supporters the chance to see their team at ‘home’.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

It would also give other Cheltenham fans the opportunity to both holiday and watch their team, something that Oxford United supporters enjoyed in Austria last year.

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Former manager Mark Yates did take Cheltenham to South Wales to face Port Talbot in 2012, but we have otherwise stayed in the South West and Midlands regions for pre-season.

Perhaps a trip further afield to foreign shores could be on the cards for Cheltenham Town in the near future.

Losing Marlon Pack was inevitable but Cheltenham Town must do all they can to keep hold of Harry Pell

Cheltenham Town midfielder Harry Pell has been subject to plenty of interest during this transfer window.

Reports suggest that a League One club has bid to sign the 25-year-old in an attempt to try and prise him away from Whaddon Road.

But despite the fact that he would command a large fee, perhaps even up to six figures, the club must do all they can to try and keep hold of the 6ft 5in midfield enforcer.

The current situation is in some way similar to when the Robins faced a battle to keep hold of Marlon Pack in 2013, a battle that was perhaps unsurprisingly lost.

Embed from Getty Images

 

Just under four years ago, Pack rejected a new contract offer and left Cheltenham to join Bristol City for around ÂŁ100,000 after three years of good service to Cheltenham.

The move was right for Pack, he shone in League Two after impressing in the 2011/12 and 2012/13 campaigns where Mark Yates’ side reached the play-offs. The then 22-year-old deservedly stepped up a division and is now playing his trade in the Championship.

But this time the ball is in Cheltenham’s court. Pell recently put pen to paper on a new two and a half year contract and appears to be settled in Gloucestershire.

At a similar age and approaching what is largely regarded as a players ‘prime’, Pell is more than capable of following in Pack’s footsteps. But the well travelled box to box midfielder has more worth to a club than just as a player, and every effort should be made to keep him in the Cotswolds.

Embed from Getty Images

 

Pell is one of the club’s main characters and one of the aces in Gary Johnson’s pack. He has played a key role ever since joining Cheltenham at the start of their National League title winning campaign, scoring 16 goals over the last two seasons.

The former Hereford United and AFC Wimbledon man is versatile, being able to operate in a number of formations either in the centre or out wide and is renowned for being one of the fittest players in the Cheltenham camp.

After losing last season’s top scorer Billy Waters already this summer, Cheltenham Town must keep hold of Pell, otherwise alarm bells will start ringing with the Sky Bet League Two season under one month away.

No player is irreplaceable and Pell would command a lucrative price tag but it would be very difficult to offset the influence both on the pitch and in the dressing room that the former Charlton Athletic product brings to CTFC.