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Cheltenham Town v Aldershot: Listless Robins unable to call the Shots

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: February 18, 2013

  • GET IN: Paul Benson celebrates scoring Cheltenham's equaliser, while Shots keeper Jamie Young looks on

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CHELTENHAM Town failed to overcome relegation-threatened Aldershot Town's spoiling tactics as their automatic promotion hopes were jolted at the Abbey Business Stadium on Saturday.

Despite Aldershot's determination to slow things down, particularly after they had taken a 23rd minute lead, a team harbouring hopes of League One football next season should have been able to carve through and score more than Paul Benson's 67th minute leveller.

It is difficult to criticise Mark Yates for sticking with the same starting line-up that performed well at Southend United and returned home with a deserved 2-1 victory last Tuesday night.

But it soon became clear the same set-up was not going to work at home against Aldershot, who deployed damage limitation tactics from the off.

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The first half was particularly poor to watch, with some agricultural challenges from Aldershot and some theatrical performances from their players, all in attempt to run down the clock.

Shots boss Dean Holdsworth felt his side were hard done by in terms of refereeing decisions, but Cheltenham were the only team who tried to play any kind of flowing football and their passing moves were frequently ended by a mistimed tackle.

It was niggly and disjointed, but Michael Hector showed his class with two of the best moments of the first half from a Cheltenham point of view.

The Reading loan youngster dropped a shoulder and smashed a fierce left-footed drive against the bar in the eighth minute before delivering the sort of cross strikers thrive on later in the half – not bad for a central defender.

Unfortunately Cheltenham allowed their concentration to slip midway through the first period and Jeff Goulding played a part in the opening goal.

He leapt to flick on a cross from the right to Peter Vincenti at the far post and he teed up Danny Rose, who applied a neat finish past Scott Brown into the centre of the goal from six yards.

Apart from the goal and a dipping volley from substitute Kieron Cadogan which cleared the bar, Brown had a particularly quiet afternoon.

Several Cheltenham players were in the wars going into the match, with Russ Penn shaking off a calf problem and Benson battling on with a thigh knock, both picked up at Southend.

It was not long before other players were hobbling around, with Steve Elliott given a bloody nose and also forced to leave the field during first half stoppage time due to a dead leg.

His replacement was Manchester United's Luke McCullough, who went on for his Football League debut the day after his 19th birthday.

The Northern Irish centre-half settled in immediately alongside Hector, forming one of the youngest central defensive pairings in Cheltenham's history, with a combined age of just 39, compared to Elliott and previous partner Alan Bennett, whose years total 65.

McCullough looked confident and comfortable on the ball, as to be expected from a player who spends his days learning from the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

He has been unlucky not to have featured earlier on in his loan spell and his lack of football may see him return to Old Trafford upon the completion of his first month at Cheltenham.

With Hector and McCullough looking watertight, Aldershot did not even remotely look like scoring after half-time as Cheltenham improved as an attacking force.

The introduction of Kaid Mohamed in place of Penn added more width and pace on the left and Jermaine McGlashan became more prominent against his old club.

Marlon Pack continued to look back to somewhere near his best having dealt with recent uncertainty over his future better than anyone could have expected.

He lifted a chance over the bar in the 49th minute after good work from McGlashan and Mohamed forced Young into evasive action.

The equaliser arrived in the 67th minute, with Keith Lowe's throw-in flicked on by Sido Jombati to Benson, who looped a header over Jamie Young and into the net for his second goal in two games and the 100th league goal of his professional career.

McGlashan was hacked down by left-back Anthony Tonkin twice in quick succession, resulting in a second yellow card and a red for the left-back in the 74th minute.

Firmly on top against the team second from bottom of the table, who were a man down, with the crowd willing them on, the onus was very much on Cheltenham to snatch a winner.

Shaun Harrad also made a difference after replacing Byron Harrison up front, but he skewed his best chance wide after racing through and using the outside of his right foot with only Young to beat.

The crowd made plenty of noise, willing Cheltenham on in the final stages, but McGlashan's shot was parried by Young and Harrad could not follow up as the frustration built as two more points went begging.

Cheltenham Town: S Brown; K Lowe, M Hector, S Elliott (L McCullough 45), S Jombati; J McGlashan, M Pack, J Taylor, R Penn (K Mohamed 46); P Benson, B Harrison (S Harrad 63). Subs not used: D Carter, S Deering, D Duffy, C Roberts.

Aldershot Town: J Young; B Herd, S Bradley, T Brown, A Tonkin; L Ainsworth (K Cadogan 37, A Morris 75), O Risser, D Rose, P Vincenti; J Goulding, D Hylton (A Hall 60). Subs not used: A McNamee, A Mekki, T Forbes, G Morris.

Referee: K Hill.

Attendance: 3,119 (270 away).

Star man: Jermaine McGlashan.

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  • ALChelt  |  February 19 2013, 7:42AM

    LOL CheltRobin..A true fan optimistic and totally blinkered to the fact that M Y got team selection and tatics wrong...AGAIN!!!!!! The man is either stubborn,tactically inept or lacking in self belief,before a ball was kicked most people in the area where I sit were worried at the team selection as it looked lopsided in midfield and from the first kick that was the case and with the tatic of the big ball up to the front player's for the defenders to nod away the seeds were sown,yes The Adders were spoiling the game and yes the ref allowed this to happen,but is M Y telling the players to pump it long or are they that thick that cant follow a game plan,I am tired this season of hearing "i might have got the team selection" wrong or "I should have played him from the start" This is obviously hindsight but some of M Y's errors are made consistantly..IF YOU CANT LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES YOU NEVER WILL!!!. Lets go throught some of them,he finds out 4 5 1 works pretty well away,WHY? because teams attack and you hit them on the break...but at home you need to be more agressive but it took him weeks to realise this,he wins one game away from home using a defensive formation and decides that the following week at home to play the exact same side against the nbottom of the league...oh I COULD GO ON!!!

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  • CheltRobin  |  February 18 2013, 12:29PM

    A poor 1st half as I've prob even seen at WR - certainly not helped by the behaviour of the Shots players and their antics which were so woefully not controlled by the ref - was this his 1st league match in charge - it certainly looked like it. The 2nd half did bring an improved Robins performance and Benson's superb looping header deservedly pulled us level. We then should've gone on to win the match, but the constant time-wasting, fouling and fake injuries to the Shots players put a stop to all that. Honestly, I can't remember watching such a stop-start match in my life - still, it worked in the Shots favour this time. As for the Robins - they are still not gelling as a unit with all the new players yet - but they will do - there is far too much quality there for them not to. In seasons gone by we have the buffers in March - I reckon that this sticky period we're in at the mo has come early this season and we will be back upto full speed by March, speed through April, then Auto Promotion in May. It's all still very much to play for. Keep going Robins - you are very unlikely to come up against the Shots tatics again this season - if ever!! COYRR!!

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