Cheltenham – time for some self respect

After the abject performance at The Mornflake Stadium on Wednesday night it isn't easy to summon up much enthusiasm for the trip to Cheltenham on Saturday. We've only played them twice before but we've lost both times and there was little evidence at Crewe that we are in the form or the mood to change that.

When we beat Cambridge just a month ago we were eight points off the top six and, although it was a long shot, the spirit in the team gave rise to hopes that we might be able to mount a play-off challenge. The gap has now lengthened to fourteen points and we are only six clear of the bottom four. In the 2016/17 season we managed to achieve a thirteenth place finish by winning four of the last five games and we thus avoided our lowest finish since 1974. We are currently fourteenth and our only proven senior striker is out injured. Could it really be that the squad that Thomas Sandgaard predicted would "blow it out of this division" might instead end up in the club's lowest league position for forty three years ?

Last year's League Two champions Cheltenham Town sit one place above us but without a win since  they beat Gillingham in late November. They have taken just four points from the last twenty one through draws with Burton and Lincoln at home and Oxford and Bolton away. Plymouth (0-2) and Cambridge (0-5) beat them at the Johnny Rocks Stadium in December and they also went out of the FA Cup 3-4 at Wimbledon. They are not a team in form.

In recognition of this they have signed five new players. Defender Ben Williams has joined from Barnsley and former Burton left back Reece Hutchinson has also been given a contract. Up front they have strengthened by signing Charlie Brown from Milton Keynes on an eighteen month contract  and Dan N'lundulu (who has twelve Premier League appearances) on loan from Southampton. Eighteen year old Aaron Ramsey (brother of Jacob) has also arrived on loan from Aston Villa. Only N'lundulu has featured for them so far but the signings would seem to be a signal of intent. Johnnie Jackson should at least have the returning Chuks Aneke available for selection.

If we assume that we will be able to pick up sufficient points in forthcoming games against Fleetwood, Gillingham and AFC Wimbledon to avoid getting sucked into a relegation struggle then the rest of the league season will be pretty short of intensity. We may have to look elsewhere for achievement and excitement.

What better than The EFL Trophy and the FA Youth Cup ?

The quarter final EFL (Papa John's) Trophy tie at Hartlepool takes place on Tuesday 25th January with a 7pm kick off.

The Fifth Round FA Youth Cup tie at Accrington is on Tuesday 18th January at 7pm. The winners are likely to play Manchester City at home.

We are assuming that both games will be available to watch on Charlton TV.