‘Meeting the opposition’ – Cheltenham Town F.C
Ahead of the televised League Two fixture on Good Friday between Cheltenham Town and Tranmere Rovers, I discussed all of the Robins on and off field subject matters with supporter @chxrlie67 who also gave his pre-match thoughts.
How long have you been a Cheltenham Town supporter and when/how did you first come across the club?
I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember (14/15 years), they’re my local club and my dad used to go all the time so I was always going to go along to games with him and just been going ever since.
Highest and lowest points across that time?
Lowest point was definitely relegation into the national league, awful season with some dreadful players and overall, just a very low point for the club, could add playoff defeat to that when we played Crewe. The highest points for me would have to be trips to stadiums like White Hart Lane and the Boleyn alongside the national league winning season where we had one of my favourite teams I’ve seen us have and won the league with 100+ points.
Random fact about the club?
We conceded the world’s longest goal in a competitive match (Tom King’s goal kick for Newport) went 96.01m.
What were your expectations going into the season and what are they now that the campaign’s coming to an end?
I would have said with the squad we have and how some of the other squads are looking probably top 3 with playoffs at a minimum. I would say we’re still on track for it and have done well not to fall off it this season, like teams like Colchester have done.
Michael Duff is manager of the Robins and has been since 2018. Thoughts on him?
He’s a really good manager, for me probably the best in the league. Transformed us around from guaranteed relegation three seasons ago to challenging for automatics. The team plays some good football and has a good recruitment team with him. I can see him managing much higher than this level in the future.
Who are Cheltenham Town’s owners and what are your thoughts on them?
Andy Wilcox is the current owner and has done well with us so far. Been in for around 3 years as chairman, in his first 4 games as chairman he sacked Gary Johnson and then appointed Michael Duff so it shows that he wants success and has definitely backed Duff for it with some of the players we’ve managed to sign.
Your danger men?
I would definitely say Sam Smith, was with you earlier in the season but came in and been very good. Can hold the ball up, pass well and rarely loses it, massive step up to what we had before he was here and hopefully, he can continue his form into Friday’s game.
The last time the two clubs came head-to-head was September last year, Duff’s men ran out 3-0 winners. Thoughts on that game?
Definitely up there with one of our best performances of the season. Just after losing to Morecambe, I wasn’t sure what to expect but after playing like that gave everyone a bit more confidence and in the end was a very convincing away performance.
How do you see the game panning out? (Score prediction etc)
It’ll be an interesting game, we usually respond well after defeats so hopefully we can continue that. It’ll definitely be a tough game but I think we can just about edge it 1-0 and I’ll go Sam Smith to score against his former club.
What starting eleven do you think Duff will select?
I can’t see it being very different to the side that played against Morecambe thus it’ll be something similar to this.
Griffiths – Blair – Long – Tozer – Freestone – Hussey – Wright – Thomas – Sercombe – May – Smith.
Thoughts on Tranmere? The club in general and why you think they’ll pose a greater
threat this time round than last time (If you do).
They’re a big club for this level and seemed to be unlucky to be relegated from league one last year. Usually, good games when we play so I can see it being another good game. Definitely will be more of a threat than the side that played us earlier in the season, I’m sure.
Thoughts on Cheltenham’s winter transfer business?
It was very hit and miss. We made three signings overall which all came late in the window after missing out on several targets. Callum Wright and Sam Smith have both been very good additions adding something we very much needed but the signing of Indiana Vassilev from Villa has failed to contribute much to us throughout his time being here. We seem to still be lacking a goal scorer and an experienced midfielder, I’d give it a 6/10 rating.
Jonny Smith is a man that has played for both clubs, a Tranmere loanee throughout the 2018/19 campaign and helped fire the Whites to promotion. He was also a loanee at Cheltenham Town, although he played a significant amount less for the Robins. The 23-year-old is now at Burton Albion. What are your thoughts on him as a player and how far do you think he can go?
I can’t say that I’m a massive fan and I’m not sure he is a massive fan of us either. When he scored against us at Prenton Park, he came over and shushed the away fans which was a bit strange considering he didn’t score but no doubt he’s a decent player who did well with Oldham especially so reckon he is probably at his level now in league one.
Reading academy graduate Sam Smith struggled during his time at Tranmere. However, he has found his feet and his goalscoring boots whilst playing for the Robins and may pose the Rovers defence a question or two on Good Friday.