Cheltenham United adjusting to life at higher level after promotion in first season
THE demise of the Cheltenham Sunday League was a key factor in the establishment of Cheltenham United.
The club were formed in May 2012 and the core of their initial squad was made up of players from Sunday League teams Cheltenham Auto, Game On FC and AFC Cheltenham with additional players recruited by their manager, and hard- working secretary Simon Meadows.
Starting out life in Division Six of the Cheltenham League, sponsored by Bristol Street Motors Cheltenham Ford, the team got off to a flying start.
With Jimmy Lawrence providing the firepower the team entered the Christmas break at the top of the table and unbeaten.
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Hampered by a lack of training facilities in January due to maintenance at Bournside School, the team saw their form dip.
Their unbeaten record went in mid-January courtesy of a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Tewkesbury Town III.
While they recovered in their following game, a 7-0 defeat of Andoversford Reserves, three defeats in their next five games put a real dent in their title ambitions.
Lawrence went on to score an admirable 26 goals during the season and was ably supported by Jonny Marriott, Mark Jenkins and utility player Steve New.
As United's form dipped rivals Hatherley FC went on a run which was to take them all the way to the title.
While United beat their rivals 2-1 in the final league game it was nothing more than a moral victory as the title already belonged to their opponents.
United finished the season in fourth place. However, this proved enough to secure promotion, an admirable achievement in their inaugural year.
The step up to Division Five has proved a real challenge to the team who find themselves in uncharted territory, propping up the table after the first four games. They opened up their account with an 8-0 defeat by Smiths Athletic Reserves.
Two goals from Steve New and a strike from Ashley Jeal saw them secure a 3-3 draw with Prestbury Rovers Reserves in their next outing but this was followed by a 5-4 defeat at Bourton Rovers III; although a hat-trick from Lawrence shows that they still have firepower in the team.
A 7-0 defeat at the hands of Leckhampton Rovers in their next game proved to be an ominous sign for United who faced Rovers again last weekend in the Cup. While United had home advantage Leckhampton once again proved victorious, running out 6-2 winners. The defeat means that United enter October without a victory to their name, a complete reversal of last season.
With only one league game in October against a high flying Staunton and Corse Reserves, they face a real challenge to get a victory on the board before November.