PREVIEW | Cheltenham Town

The Robins currently occupy 21st place in the division, after one win, one draw and four defeats so far this campaign. That position also happens to be where they finished last campaign, when they accumulated 50 points, just two more than the Exiles. They will be looking to kick-start their current campaign at Rodney Parade, with their solitary league win coming back on 12th August.

Here, you can find out all the facts and statistics ahead of this League 2 encounter…


Previous league and cup results.

The Robins began the season with stoppage-time heartache as Morecambe fought back to claim a 2-1 win with a 93rd minute winner.

The side responded with their own 90th minute goal in their next match, on their way to shocking Oxford United in the Carabao Cup with a 4-3 victory. Danny Wright got the late goal, sending the tie to extra-time, before a Mo Eisa rocket from 30-yards saw them pull off the upset.

They kept the momentum going with a 1-0 home win over Crawley before suffering a 2-1 defeat to Swansea City U21’s in the CheckaTrade Trophy. A goal of the season contender did, however, come in the game for the Robins, Kyle Storer superbly scoring directly from a corner to open the scoring.

The Robins then went two games without getting a goal, as they suffered a 3-0 defeat at Carlisle, before exiting the Carabao Cup with a 2-0 home defeat to West Ham United.

They made up for their goal-drought in the next game, although three goals were not enough to stop league-leaders Exeter City winning 4-3.

A 1-0 defeat to Stevenage then came before a 0-0 draw at Yeovil Town in their last game saw the Robins move off the foot of the table ahead of their trip to Rodney Parade.


Summer transfer window

Gary Johnson had a massive overhaul of his playing staff over the summer, bringing in 13 additions and letting 14 players leave the club.

Of the arrivals, Janaai Gordon will be a familiar name to Exiles fans. The striker, who interestingly scored his only goal for County against Cheltenham with a 95th minute equaliser, penned an undisclosed contract length after impressing during pre-season.

They raided the non-league for a further four of the arrivals, Scott Flinders being one of the additions. The 31-year old goalkeeper has vast League 2 experience, having made over 250 appearances for Hartlepool United and 50 whilst with York City.

Of the departures, Billy Waters is the most notable. The striker was the club’s top scorer last season, in addition to winning the player of the year award, and moved to Northampton Town for an undisclosed fee, playing against County in pre-season.  

Another positive result for the Robins during the window was the news that Harry Pell remained with the club. Blackpool had a bid accepted for the 25-year old midfielder, but Pell decided to reject the advances of the League 1 club due to family commitments.



The Robins head to Rodney Parade in near perfect shape.

Summer signing Jordan Forster will, however, miss the game with an Achilles injury. He may also miss the reverse fixture at Whaddon Road on 30th December as the initial prognosis is that the defender will be out until early 2018.

Aaron Downes, currently a player-coach for the club, is also expected to miss the game with a knee injury picked up in pre-season.

Manager Gary Johnson made one change to his side for the Yeovil Town game on Saturday, with Will Boyle dropping to the bench after suffering a broken nose during the week, with the defender able to return for the visit to Rodney Parade.

That means a similar team could be named for our encounter. However, striker Danny Wright may miss out after being substituted just 23 minutes into the Yeovil game, after missing two clear-cut chances.


Team vs Yeovil Town (4-3-3):

Flinders; Winchester, Grimes, Moore, Cranston; Pell, Morrell (Sellars 70), Storer (c); Dawson, Eisa, Wright (Gordon 23).


One to watch – Mo Eisa

Age: 22

Position: Winger / Striker

Goals this season: 4

Previous clubs: Dartford, Greenwich Borough

Dubbed the next ‘Ian Wright,’ Mo Eisa has accustomed himself well to life in the Football League after joining the Robins over the summer.

The 22-year-old has drawn comparisons to Wright, who scored over 200 goals during his career, due to them both being scouted whilst at Greenwich Borough, who Eisa scored 57 goals for over the past two seasons.

Interestingly, the scout that recommended Eisa to Cheltenham this summer is also the same scout that recommended Wright to Crystal Palace back in 1985. So, who was the scout? John Griffin, who interestingly happens to be Cheltenham manager Gary Johnson’s uncle.

Since moving to the Robins, he has scored four goals already this campaign, two of which have come in League 2, with the others coming in the Carabao Cup.

His first goal came on debut with a strike at Morecambe before his double helped Cheltenham produce one of the shocks of the Carabao Cup first round, when they beat Oxford United 4-3 in extra time.

He took his tally to four goals in three games with his first home goal, in the 1-0 win over Crawley Town on 12th August.

The Robins have clearly been impressed by his performances so far this campaign, moving swiftly to tie down Eisa to an extended contract, with the winger committing himself to the club until the summer of 2020.


Manager – Gary Johnson

Johnson has been in charge at the Whaddon Road outfit since March 2015, leading the Robins to National League success the following year.

In doing so, he set his own piece of history, as Cheltenham became the first relegated club since 1989 to win the division and bounce straight back to League 2. He also became just the second manager to win multiple National League titles.

Currently, Johnson has managed 124 Cheltenham games, winning 41.9% of them.

Prior to being with the Robins, Johnson had his most successful managerial spells with Yeovil Town and Bristol City, managing over 200 games with both clubs.

In his first spell with Yeovil he won three competitions, the FA Trophy, Conference title and Division Three title. He added a League 1 title to that collection during his second stint.

He made Bristol City outsiders for promotion to the Premiership during his spell at Ashton Gate, although they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Hull City in the 2008 Play-off final.

His best winning percentage of any club came during his first spell with Yeovil when he won 52.5% of his 221 games.

He is also closing in on the Football League 1000 club, having managed over 900 games to date.


Previous meetings

Remarkably, the two teams have only met on six previous occasions. Those meetings have all come in League 2, with just one win each for both teams and the remaining four draws. A draw this time round can be found at 5/2 with SKY BET.

The first meeting came in the 2013/14 season, when both sides played out a 0-0 draw at Whaddon Road on 23rd November. Cheltenham secured their only victory over County to date later that season, as Ashley Vincent’s strike secured a 1-0 win – a result which saw County slip away from the play-off places.

In the 2014/15 season, Chris Zebroksi’s goal gave County their only win over Cheltenham on 28th December – which put County 5th in the table, just four points off top, heading into the New Year. A 1-1 draw at Rodney Parade saw County’s play-off hopes ended, as the visitors crawled out of the relegation zone, albeit temporarily. Wales U21 international Wes Burns gave Cheltenham the lead, before Miles Storey equalised for County during the game.

Last season, a further two draws were played out between the sides. At Rodney Parade, County twice fought back to draw 2-2 thanks to a double from Jon Parkin. Then, at Whaddon Road, County took another step to safety with a stunning 95th minute equaliser through Janaai Gordon, as more than 800 County fans made the short trip.



Referee: Gavin Ward

Assistant referee 1: Simon Knapp

Assistant referee 2: Ben Cobb

Fourth Official: Derek Eaton

Ward is currently in his 11th season as a Football League referee.

Last season, he refereed 41 games, giving out 150 yellow cards and brandishing a further six red cards.

So far this season, he has officiated on seven matches, producing 23 yellow cards with no reds.


County Connection

Ward has refereed County on four previous occasions – three times at Rodney Parade and once on the road.

His first County match came on 6th April 2015 when County lost 2-0 away at Exeter City. Ismail Yakubu was sent off in that game, with Mark Byrne also booked for County.

Ward officiated County twice in the 2015/16 season. The Exiles were unbeaten in those two games, the first a 1-0 success over Mansfield Town. Six yellow cards were given out in all during that game, Scott Boden, Yan Klukowski and Mark Byrne booked for County.

The second game came in the 1-1 draw with Oxford United. Danny Holmes and Tommy O’Sullivan were both cautioned in the only two bookings of the game.

His most recent County game came last season, in the 4-0 defeat to Leyton Orient. Joss Labadie and Mark O’Brien were booked for the Exiles.


Other League 2 fixtures that day (All 7:45pm kick-offs unless stated)

Accrington Stanley vs Grimsby Town

Barnet vs Exeter City (8pm kick-off)

Colchester United vs Chesterfield

Coventry City vs Carlisle United

Crewe Alexandra vs Cambridge United

Forest Green Rovers vs Lincoln City

Luton Town vs Port Vale

Mansfield Town vs Wycombe Wanderers

Notts County vs Swindon Town

Stevenage vs Crawley Town

Yeovil Town vs Morecambe


Can’t make the match?

You can follow along on social media using @NCAFCLive on Twitter, or via the club’s official Facebook and Instagram pages.

Don’t forget – if you reside outside of the UK, you can watch the game live by subscribing to County’s iFollow service. Commentary by Charlie Brown and Richard Sheppard can also be found at the Match Centre.