Cheltenham Town (A) Match Preview

Another Tuesday, another fixture. After the November run of MK, Rotherham, Wigan and Sunderland, you might be forgiven for breathing a sigh of relief – “it’s all over, the rest is a piece of piss!”

Err, not really. Cheltenham might not be the most imposing of match-ups in the division, but after that we face Charlton, Rotherham (again) before a trip to Wycombe on Boxing Day. This league is absolutely relentless and sometimes cliches are cliches because they’re true – there really are no easy games.

Listen to the latest pod here, looking ahead both to Cheltenham and featuring an interview with the Charlton Live podcast before Saturday’s game.

Tonight’s game in the West Country certainly isn’t. While they may not be the ex-Premier League name we’ve become accustomed to in recent weeks, they are very impressive in their own right. Sitting on 27 points, four ahead of us, there’s plenty of comparisons to make between our two clubs at the moment. 

They’re led by Michael Duff, a young and talented manager with a strong connection to the club performing far above expectations on a comparatively tiny budget, with similar attendances and resources – and lets not forget they also lost their talisman from last year’s promotion season to that fairytale story down in non-league, Wrexham.

Takeaways from Bonner’s presser

  • High praise of Duff who has done a “brilliant job”
  • Especially nice words on their rearguard action, and says “they don’t concede a lot of goals”
  • Focus on getting gametime into every squad member last week which we managed to do
  • Lloyd Jones still out, his injury taking a lot longer than expected. As frustrated as us all.

Expected line-up

Mitov; Williams, Masterson, Iredale, Dunk; Smith, Weir, Digby, May, Brophy; Big Joey Ironside

Opposition preview

A glance at the Robins’ results tells you there really is a lot of Cambridge United in there. They seem to balance great results against bigger sides (a point against Wednesday and Pompey, beating Oxford) with a couple of clangers (conceding three and losing to Donny).

They find the net in a fairly reliable fashion, which given our awful record at the back, should be quite worrying. They’ve scored in every game since the 2nd of October in a 2-0 loss to Rotherham. But having said that, we’re still protecting our fantastic away goal scoring record, so I would get to the bookies for a BTTS if I were you.

Who is their player to watch?

Alfie May – a diminutive centre-forward with a very decent goalscoring record so far this season. He’ll be looking to add to his six goals this season, and his double last time out at Bolton, with another on Tuesday night.

Who’s in the dugout?

Michael Duff – If there’s such a thing as a two-club legend, Michael Duff is it. Having played over 300 times for both Cheltenham and Burnley, he’s a young manager proving his way in the game very quickly and ably, at a club and fanbase that loves him. Remind you of anyone?

What’s their recent form like?

Very impressive and unbeaten in last five. Something we’d be looking to replicate at the quickest moment possible, I’m sure.

D, D, W, W, D

Any ex-United players?

Matty Blair’s two appearances at The Abbey during our promotion season would be very easy to forget. At Cheltenham he’s turned from a bit of a non-league clogger into a capable League One quality player. 

Last time out

Let me take you back to February of this year. We were inching towards a climax to the season with promotion on our minds, before Cheltenham came and did an absolute number on us. Includes a shocker of a miss from Iredale (or a great goal-line clearance, you decide).

A matchday album to listen to

Black Country, New Road – Concorde

Cambridge’s own BCNR are back with their newest single Concorde, featuring a slightly toned down and calmer sound to what we’re used to. Melodic and peaceful, if you’re after something with a bit of Bill Callahan or even Richard and Linda Thompson about it, give this a go. And support a Cambridge band while you’re at it.

The UTAS team’s terrible Moosenet predictions

Owen – 2-0 United, Smith

Jordan – 2-2 May

Julian – 2-1 United, Tracey

Jack – 2-1 Cheltenham, Smith

From the archive

Not going that far back in time this week, as we head to 2018 for a 4-3 win at The Abbey including a last gasp winner from Barry. Different times indeed.

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