cheltenham – three more points please

Last season's League Two champions Cheltenham Town come to The Valley for the first ever League meeting between the two teams having made a creditable start to the new season. Defeats away to Fleetwood (2-3) and at home to Wycombe (1-3) have been countered by 1-1 draws with Crewe, Burton and Milton Keynes and a 2-1 home victory over much fancied Ipswich. The Robins currently sit in sixteenth position.

They won League Two last year on the back of a tight defence - conceding only 39 goals in 46 games, including just 6 in the last 11 games as they saw off Cambridge in the race for top spot. However, they have found it tougher this season and have already conceded ten without keeping a clean sheet.

This is the third time that Cheltenham have achieved League One status. It was Steve Cotterill who steered them from The Conference in 1999 and he followed this by gaining promotion via the 2002 play-offs. Relegated after one season they found their way back to the third tier under John Ward in 2006. They lasted three years this time before another relegation and they dropped out of the EFL altogether in 2015. They bounced back immediately under Gary Johnson and it was Michael Duff who led them to last year's success.

Duff had an amazing career as a player, making 300 appearances for two separate clubs. He was a Cheltenham player from 1996-2004 with exactly 300 appearances before he joined Burnley where he played for a further twelve seasons with 342 appearances. Having started at Carterton Town in The Hellenic League and gone through The Southern League, Conference and Leagues One and Two with Cheltenham he joined Burnley when they were a Championship club before gaining promotion to The Premier League. He is believed to be the only player ever to have climbed the football pyramid in the correct order of divisions.

Another interesting figure at Cheltenham is last season's top scorer Alfie May. The Gravesend born striker spent five years in non League football with Billericay, Chatham, VCD Athletic, Erith & Belvedere (38 goals in 45)  and Hythe Town (37 in 45) before Doncaster finally took the gamble and offered him a contract. He played 92 games for them before joining Cheltenham last year. The goals have not flowed so freely in the EFL (26 in 154) but he already has three this season.

Only a few weeks ago it seemed that the Charlton team virtually picked itself because the squad was so thin but today it is impossible to predict what Saturday's starting eleven will look like. There can be no doubt that the resources Nigel Adkins has at his disposal are now much richer than when he was selecting a squad for the Crewe game and we anticipate a similar game and a comfortable three points.


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