Cheltenham Town: Fan's view with Hannah Lugsden
What did you think of the 1-0 home win over Chesterfield on Tuesday night?
It was a game where the result was always going to be more important than the performance, and so it proved. It was a forgettable game, Chesterfield had one line of attack through Armand Gnanduillet – who they continued to hit whenever in possession. Until Jack Lester was brought on, Gnanduillet was the main danger. Whereas we tried to play the ball around in the middle of the park but failed to carve out any real chances. The five man midfield worked well when it came to passing and keeping the ball, but it looked at times like we needed a 12th man to play in and around Paul Benson. This is no slur on Sam Deering who has been fantastic over the past few games, but in this free role he pops up everywhere leaving Benson isolated at times. I thought Jermaine McGlashan made a positive impact upon arrival and it was good to see Kaid Mohamed have a hand in the goal. Michael Hector continues to impress me and some of his balls out of defence are that of an experienced midfielder, he and Steve Elliott deserved the clean sheet.
What was the key to the last-gasp victory?
The pitch didn’t aid the poor spectacle but the lads showed dedication to the cause. They kept plugging away at it, in the hope one chance would come. Benson may have been poor on the night but he is a clinical striker. The decision to bring on Mo and Jermaine was the right one, fresh fast legs panicked the Spireites’ full backs and eventually Billy Jones got in and put a dangerous ball in. Belief is key in a situation such as ours, we must keep the faith. I concur with Mark Yates in that anything can happen from now until the end of the season and if we can get a positive result at Burton – then I think this will send a message out to all the teams in the top eight.
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How much is the pitch affecting the style of play?
It can’t help a team whose best attributes are getting the ball down, playing to feet and dribbling down the wings. I don’t know whether the pitch had influenced Yates into making his tactic the long ball game for big parts of previous matches, but it doesn’t suit us at all so we need to get back to what we do best and if this means Gloucester City stop playing on it then so be it. I don’t think it’s an excuse, I think it is an extra unnecessary negative when things aren’t quite going for you.
What do you think of the current five-man midfield?
I like that it allows us to play short, one touch, neat passes into feet. I think it’s a great set up for away games when we want to be solid, pack the middle of the park and keep the opposition narrow. It also enables us to play Carter, Pack and Penn in the same side. And Sam Deering has seemingly found that spark in this free role that he couldn’t at the beginning of the season for whatever reason. It has positives, and turns into a 4-4-1-1 on the attack and a 4-5-1 when on the back foot. However, you are asking two central players to operate wider on the pitch than is natural to them, the tendency is to drift too narrow leaving space for the opposition to exploit. Playing five in midfield can provide the ultimate balancing act test. Clearly Taylor is there to hold, Pack to spray the passes, Penn to break up the play, Carter to add an extra dose of quality and Deering to hound and take on players. I’m not sure it’s a permanent solution for home matches, we carve out very few clear cut chances playing this formation and sometimes it will take the speed of Mo, the skill of Jermaine or the potency of Harrad to unlock a defence so the jury is still out for me despite how good it is to see consistency in the team selection.
Who should play at right-back for the run-in, Keith Lowe or Sido Jombati?
Right-back isn’t my cause for concern, I think who should get the left back berth should be the quandary – even if Yates doesn’t see it like that. I think the way Keith Lowe has played this season is maybe 10% below the season when he won fans player of the year. So he is near his best. Sido hasn’t been the livewire we are used to, he has had to take on more defensive duties and sacrifice his darting runs and skilful interchanges up the line for understated and no nonsense defending. He has produced some of his best games at left back (Bristol Rovers away last season for a start) and i don’t think a neutral would be able to tell he is normally an accustomed right back. Billy Jones’ defensive frailties worry me, his crossing was off on Tuesday night (other than the one that counted for something), he isn’t great in the air and doesn’t do full blooded challenges. If i could combine all three full backs, we’d have the perfect one.
Who has impressed you most of the new signings?
Michael Hector by a country mile, and he had the hardest job coming in filling our former captains’ boots. He has looked composed, shown his vision and actually uses his height to his advantage. Some players have the height but no power, he has power! He has had one or two shaky moments but someone said to me at the game on Tuesday; ‘i feel comfortable with him back there’ and if fans say that then you know you’ve got a player who instils confidence and doesn’t let mistakes tar his game. I thought Harrison did better Tuesday than what I’ve seen before, his touch looked sharper. Taylor still needs to convince me, rather than trying to provoke a fight.
Would you keep the same team for Burton Albion away?
I’d be sorely tempted to. However, Gary Rowett was watching the Chesterfield game so he will be quite aware of how we approach things in that set up. And as a former full-back himself he will have warned his team about the threat of McGlashan and Mo, nevertheless, on the break they are our special (not so secret) weapons and I imagine Burton will go gung-ho to try and win this one so I would be flirting with the idea of bringing in Jermaine for either Carter or Taylor.
How do you see the game going?
After Bristol Rovers hammering them 3-0, I expect Burton to come out all guns blazing. They tend to score a lot, spreading the goals around, i rate Billy Kee. In the reverse fixture earlier this season, defender Nathan Stanton did a very good job at full back so the job in hand will be a tough one. Burton do concede though, so we are capable of beating them. I think Yates would take a point but what a boost three would be; if we get our tactics right, our application should be second nature and as our games seem to get tighter – the first goal becomes even more pivotal. 2-1 to the Robins, McGlashan to get on the score sheet when called from the bench