Cheltenham Town: Fan's view with Peter Fielding
What were your overall thoughts on Tuesday night's win at Southend?
An excellent, albeit slightly unexpected result. It was essential that the players atoned for their performance at Dagenham, and they did exactly that. Mark Yates was spot on with the tactics; we were more confident on the ball, controlled the centre of the park effectively and left Essex with an invaluable 3 points. We must now use this victory as a catalyst for the final third of the season.
How do you feel about the ongoing Marlon Pack situation?
On the basis of Tuesday’s performance, it is essential that we retain Marlon’s services for the final 14 games this season. Pack was the standout player at Southend, having the effect of a new signing, complementing Jason Taylor’s steely fortitude with skill and flair. He deserves to play at a higher level, and will do so, but having made more than 100 appearances for Cheltenham Town at the tender age of 21, Marlon Pack knows this club inside out and may be the difference between playing League 2 or League 1 football next season.
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Who has impressed you the most of the January signings?
None of our 5 January signings has disappointed, but for me the pick of the bunch has been Michael Hector. The Reading loanee has had big shoes to fill following the departure of captain Alan Bennett, and has performed admirably, showing why he is part of the scenery at a Premiership club. Hector shows the power you might expect from his mythological Trojan namesake, outperforming experienced League 2 strikers under the careful watch of veteran Steve Elliott. Jason Taylor and Paul Benson also deserve commendation, showing the experience and desire that as fans we revel in.
Is the squad capable of remaining in the top three?
Yes, but it is very much in our own hands. Our record against teams only in the bottom half would leave us in 3rd place, but against only the top half teams, we would be mid-table. We need to maintain our impressive form against League 2 strugglers, commencing with Aldershot Town on Saturday, but try and take more points from larger teams, as shown at Southend on Tuesday night. Attracting more fans to the Abbey Business Stadium, especially younger ones, would greatly benefit our situation, especially during our tricky season run-in.
How do you see the Aldershot game going?
If we can emulate the performance at Southend, we are capable of taking a relatively comfortable victory. Aldershot are rapidly declining, having lost 4 out of their last 5 games, and are, with the greatest respect, a perfect opportunity to cultivate a winning run. Having beaten them away from home thanks to a Shaun Harrad header, it is also the ideal chance to complete our first League double of the season.
Would you make any changes to the team, assuming everyone is fit?
No. We were solid in defence, much more potent in the midfield and effective up front. Marlon Pack and Jason Taylor will be the perfect midfield duo against an inexperienced Aldershot side, with the ever impressive Russell Penn and Jermaine McGlashan allowed to maraud into the opposition penalty area. Byron Harrison will again knock the ball down well and making channel runs, whilst Paul Benson has the nous and ability to win any game.
What sort of welcome back will Jeff Goulding be given?
During his 3 season stint with Cheltenham Town, Jeff divided opinion amongst Robins fans, with obvious skill but a lack of consistency. Goulding formed an excellent partnership with Wesley Thomas in his opening season at Whaddon Road, scoring 10 goals, however since that point he has added a mere 8. Goulding undoubtedly has ability, exemplified by his chipped goal against Barnet, however Paul Benson and Byron Harrison are better players, and therefore it was the right time for Jeff to depart. Goulding will receive a friendly welcome back, as supporters must remember that without his 3 league goals this season we would have 4 points less and be in 8th place. Let’s hope he doesn’t score a debut goal on Saturday!
Come on you Robins!