It's so frustrating, says Cheltenham Town fan Peter Fielding
WHEN it rains for Cheltenham Town it really does pour as Rochdale manager Keith Hill taught Mark Yates a tactical lesson in a match plagued by precipitation to condemn the Robins to yet another frustrating defeat.
It was hard to criticise Yates for selecting an unchanged side with the midfield 'diamond' formation that defeated Dagenham and Redbridge last week.
However, the decision to leave out powerful front-man Terry Gornell was questionable, and even more so by full-time.
As expected, early exchanges were cagey, with the controversial diamond proving mercurial in effectiveness.
At the top of the midfield, Jermaine McGlashan often found it difficult to keep up with Rochdale's confident passing, while Russ Penn and Jason Taylor's manful attempts to keep possession were significantly hampered by referee Gavin Ward's obsession in stopping play.
With the heavens opening at half-time and the Whaddon Road pitch subsequently waterlogged, a mixture of simplicity and guile would now be the key to success.
Defending well against the unpredictable movement of the ball, Keith Lowe and Troy Brown were irreproachable, with the latter scoring a deserved first goal for the club after a sodden goalmouth scramble.
Minutes later, Hill made the triple substitution that changed the game.
Instantly, Dale looked more dangerous, flooding the Cheltenham box with men, and forcing a number of smart saves from Scott Brown. The warning signs were there but Yates did nothing.
McGlashan became ineffective, while Jamie Cureton was able to add almost nothing up front.
Full-backs Sido Jombati and Craig Braham-Barratt were looking more and more helpless, and Rochdale's 81st-minute equaliser almost seemed an inevitability as Ian Henderson headed home.
There was still no substitution from Yates, who was seemingly content with his team, despite the rapid deterioration of the Robins' performance; and it was far from surprising when two minutes into stoppage time, after defensive pandemonium, Henderson chipped home exquisitely.
In truth, the Cheltenham Town players did their best in their respective roles within the side, the issue was whether these roles were right for them.
Penn is not a winger, McGlashan does not work in the hole and Cureton can do nothing without service – to name but a few problems.
The squad looked tired, while Yates is quickly losing the backing of the supporters, with some fearing he will soon lose the changing room too. If results don't improve soon it may be time for Yates to fly the Cheltenham Town nest.