Cheltenham Town: Russell Milton's weekly look at life in the Robins' Academy
THE past week has seen a perfect couple of results with wins against Torquay United and Cardiff City 3-0 and 2-1 respectively.
Firstly to Torquay, where we had a fixture venue change due to their EPPP dry audit and an early start from Seasons training ground.
On arrival at their Newton Abbot facility I was greeted by a flustered academy manager Geoff Harrop and two auditors, one from Belgium and the other English.
Geoff proceeded to tell me about the events of the past two days and what the next two days were likely to consist of.
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The thought of 9am until 7pm meetings in the near future for two days isn't something that fills us with delight, but it's what needs doing.
To matters on the field and it was important to start well and take the game to Torquay.
We were pretty strong, with Joe Hanks having a run-out away from first-team duties.
An early predator's finish from Bobbie Dale settled nerves and we went on to produce a really good professional performance, playing some excellent football on the counterattack particularly.
The second and third goals were of real quality. Zack Kotwica headed the second in Ronaldoesque at the far post, and Hanksy scored a fine lob after excellent play from first Zack and then a delicate knockdown by Bobbie.
All in all it ended up a comfortable game for us and continued the fine run of league form we are in.
I gained extra delight from the clean sheet, with a back four of Callum Marshall, full-back Elliott Keightley at centre-half, Mike Gonzalo and left winger James Bowen at left-back.
Also keeper Harvey Rivers dealt very well with two one-on-ones and had a safe game between the sticks.
On Tuesday we had a competitive fixture against a strong Cardiff side and were worthy 2-1 winners, with once again fine goals from Kotwica on the counterattack and a solo effort from Bobbie.
The scoreline flattered Cardiff and we should have run out more convincing victors.
It was a very pleasing result as the Bluebirds have a very productive academy and are going for Category One which is two above us.
Our forward play at the minute is producing plenty of chances and goals.
Since the turn of the year we've played six games, scored 26 goals and conceded ten – six of those in the 7-6 win against Swindon.
I have always said to the boys they have the ability to produce these results and things seem to be clicking in to gear, with them realising what they need to do every game to get results.
Sometimes it won't be pretty and they will have to do things they don't like. In others they will have more of the run of play and can express themselves.
This is something they will need to adhere to today against top-of-the-table Oxford and on Tuesday versus second-placed Exeter, both at Seasons.
On to matters with the lower age groups, and we had a coaches meeting with old favourite and Football League representative Bob Bloomer in the week.
Bob quizzed the staff on their knowledge on our academy playing philosophy, something the auditors will do early next season.
It was a worthwhile exercise as we ironed out some important factors that need to be put in place and memorised.
Our part-time staff are obviously a very important part of the club and they are the ones that preach the playing "DNA" into the boys from an early age.
We hope coaches like Chris Burns, Tommy Callinan, Keith Knight, Tim Bell and Dave Strain, to name a few, will have a real influence on the future players of the club in the coming years, which will help them progress into the first team and maybe higher.