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Blues Host Cheltenham Looking to Further Close Gap on Top Six
Monday, 21st Feb 2022 16:09

The Blues host Cheltenham Town on Tuesday evening aiming to maintain their 100 per cent home record under Kieran McKenna and to further close the gap on the top six.

Saturday’s excellent 3-0 victory over Burton saw the Blues stay ninth but now only four points behind sixth-placed Wycombe, who played out a remarkable 5-5 draw with the Robins at Adams Park.

The Chairboys host second-placed Wigan Athletic on Tuesday, while seventh-placed Sunderland are at home to the Brewers and Sheffield Wednesday, who are eighth, won't be in action as their game at Fleetwood has been postponed due to damage to Highbury caused by the storms.

Town will stay ninth even if they beat the Robins with the Black Cats and Owls also four points above them.

“That’s some video to go through tomorrow. That’s going to be a fun Sunday,” Blues boss Kieran McKenna laughed when asked about the Wycombe-Cheltenham result at his post-match press conference on Saturday.

“I think it’s our first Saturday-Tuesday at home so we’re looking at the best routine in terms of recovery and preparation.

“Cheltenham’s coming round very quickly, there’s no bonus for the day having gone so well [against Burton], it’s just three points.

“The same three points are available on Tuesday, so however the game goes we want to make sure we’re on the right end of that result. It’s now preparation physically and mentally for Tuesday night.”

McKenna, who has won all four of his home games so far, will almost certainly stick with keeper Christian Walton, back three Janoi Donacien, Luke Woolfenden and George Edmundson, and wing-backs Wes Burns and Dominic Thompson.

Similarly, he’s unlikely to change his central midfield pairing, skipper Sam Morsy and Lee Evans unless the knee problem suffered late on on Saturday by the Welshman is more serious than McKenna suggested after the game, in which case Tyreeq Bakinson will return to the side.

McKenna has however tended to switch around his front three so could bring Macauley Bonne back as his central striker with Kayden Jackson probably keeping his place after his goal and two assists at the weekend, while Bersant Celina or Conor Chaplin could come in for Sone Aluko.

Cheltenham assistant boss Russell Milton says Saturday’s 10-goal thriller, in which striker Alfie May scored four times, showed both the grit and ability in the squad.

“It was a game like not many of us have been involved in before,” he told GloucestershireLive. At the end of the day, it’s a point and a good one away at Wycombe. But the way it unfolded is not something you normally come across.

“We were pleased with the spirit the lads showed. We took the lead early and then went 3-1 down and we looked a little bit lost at half-time.

“For the lads to change it around and come back twice from two goals behind was great testament to the spirit and quality of the boys.

“That was the overriding factor. If you wanted to go into the game itself and the goals, you could be here forever. The spirit the lads showed was first class.”

Looking ahead to the visit to Portman Road, Milton added: “We’ve had a look at the squad this morning. You have to come down from Saturday, put that one to bed and the next challenge is Ipswich, who are a very good team.

“We were fortunate enough to get by them at home, when we won. They are on a really good run of form at the minute and at home they are a real test.

“We are going to have to play well. It’s a totally opposite test to Saturday, in terms of the actual game.

“They have a number of good players, who they can chop and change. We have to go there and give a good, disciplined account of ourselves and take it from there really.

“The boys will be ready, so it’s how the 90 minutes dictates and how you deal with what’s thrown at you.”

Milton says there are one or two injury concerns from the weekend who will be assessed but that Sean Long is available again but Gavin Crowe is not yet ready to make a return and midfielder Conor Thomas, Charlie Brown, Dan Nlundulu, George Lloyd and Ellis Chapman all remain sidelined.

Cheltenham are unbeaten in their last five, Saturday’s draw at Wycombe having been preceded by home victories over Sunderland, 2-1, and Fleetwood, 2-0, their only wins in their last 15 matches with eight of those games having ended in draws.

Away from home the Robins have won two, drawn seven and lost six in League One this season with the most recent of those victories a 2-0 success at Gillingham in November.

The game between the teams at Whaddon Road in August was their first meeting in the EFL.

Cheltenham came from a goal behind at half-time to beat Town 2-1, their first ever victory over the Blues.

Matt Penney’s brilliant first goal for the club gave Town the lead on nine and Macauley Bonne had a golden chance to make it should 2-0 during a dominant spell following the goal.

However, Cheltenham were the better side in the second half and goals from Callum Wright and Will Boyle sealed a first League One win of the season for the Robins.

The clubs' only previous competitive fixtures were in the Southern League in the Blues’ first two seasons as a professional club in which they achieved four wins out of four.

In 1936/37 Town won 3-1 at Whaddon Road and 3-0 in Suffolk. The following year, the Blues were 3-1 victors at home in the most recent Portman Road meeting between the sides and 2-1 winners away.

Blues wing-back Burns had a stint on loan with the Gloucestershire club in the second half of 2014/15, scoring four goals in 14 matches.

Centre-half Cameron Burgess made 17 starts for the Robins during a loan spell there during the second half of the following campaign.

Former Town academy striker Charlie Brown joined Cheltenham in the summer from the MK Dons. Brown left the Blues to move to Chelsea’s youth set-up aged 16 in July 2016 having already broken into the U23s.

Tuesday’s referee is Andy Davies from Hampshire, who has shown 67 yellow cards and two red in 25 games so far this season.

Davies’s last Town match was the 1-1 home draw with Sheffield Wednesday in September in which he booked Idris El Mizouni and Scott Fraser.

Prior to that the most recent of Davies's many Blues games was the 3-1 win at Southend in October 2019 in which he booked Jackson, Flynn Downes and two Shrimpers.

Before that he was in charge of the 2-0 defeat at Brentford in April of the same year when he booked Toto Nsiala and one home player.

Squad from: Walton, Hladky, Donacien, Edmundson, Woolfenden, Burgess, Burns, Vincent-Young, Thompson, Penney, Evans, Morsy, El Mizouni, Carroll, Bakinson, Celina, Aluko, Chaplin, Bonne, Norwood, Pigott, Jackson.

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Europablue added 16:13 - Feb 21
Is Evans ok then?

Bazza8564 added 16:28 - Feb 21
We should have hammered them at their place, time to put that right tomorrow like we did Saturday against Burton

mkbobby added 16:40 - Feb 21
At least we won’t have to cope with tozer’s long throws tomorrow as that worried the life out of our defence last time

PhilTWTD added 17:04 - Feb 21

KMc was hopeful it wasn't too serious on Saturday.

Linkboy13 added 17:09 - Feb 21
Any team that scores five goals against Wycombe must be respected mind you they conceded five probably means it will be a nil nil. Team selection will be very interesting as McKenna likes to rotate which was a bit of a swear word when Lambert was in charge. Would like to see Pigott and Jackson again . Evans has got a slight injury which means Bakinson will be back in. Aluko could be rested and Celina recalled. Hope im wrong but got a feeling Bonne could be partnering Jackson up front COYB.

Monkey_Blue added 17:35 - Feb 21
It’s going ok isn’t it cookites? Same players, different manager, different philosophy but instant results. Suggests we have a good manager who isn’t going to give excuses all the time…. Btw cooks doing that already at chesterfield.

Monkey_Blue added 17:37 - Feb 21
And yes, I’ve moved on but it’s convenient for many on here to want to forget how much abuse including very personal abuse some of us got for not banging the cook messiah tambourine.

Mariner1974 added 18:00 - Feb 21
hey don't worry Monkey_Blue. I'm still with you. Cook was a prick and we are well rid of him! Whilst the likes of BeattiesBack Pocket & Saxonblue74, still hammer on about the game needing characters like PC & him being a 'decent man'. I'll be much happier seeing him fail and lose his voice permanently. McKenna's footballing brain and calmness I'd take every day of the week. Most of that lot would have farmed Kayden Jackson off to a non league side many moons ago with the decent guy PC.

BeethorpeAndy added 19:29 - Feb 21
We will win tomorrow, 1-0. We have our best manager since Burley. Very clever, honest and intelligent man who will take us, as a club, far. Every chance of playing the budgies next season. So proud of the club now, along with my 13 yr old son. We are a great club, with a good history. All to play for! COYB.

cat added 19:47 - Feb 21
It has indeed Monkey, much better than anyone of us thought, but unlike you I’m capable of giving credit where it’s due. Even when Cook got some big results, instead of giving credit you hid away, unable to muster a half assed positive comment or to be a big enough bloke to see beyond your agenda. Least DeGremloid and Mariners to name but a few were able to get behind the club and give them credit and that is why I respect them posters but have zero respect for you.
Enjoy your gloating but Chambers and Co have gone so you get over it lol

chepstowblue added 20:51 - Feb 21
Some peculiar comments on here. I was at the Cheltenham game earlier this season, and while we were well in control in the first half and should have been two up, we hardly got out of our half in the second period and at the end were well beaten by a team who's physicality and directness we had no answer to. We appear to be a different animal right now, but this will be another tough game.Thankfully the manager and players won't adopt the same arrogant and disrespectful attitude towards the opposition as many on this forum, meaning that we'll have to do more than just turn up to bag the points. Then it'll be all about fighting off PSG from stealing the rejuvenated(first good appearance in 2 yrs)Jackson !!! If he scores 5 in 5 then maybe I'll start to believe we have a player worthy of keeping.

Edmundo added 21:27 - Feb 21
Charlie Brown, one of our starlets, now not even making Cheltenham first eleven. That's warning to future Ben Knights and other 15-16 year olds with agents/parents putting money ahead of progress.

OliveR16 added 07:44 - Feb 22
Milton: “For the lads to change it around and come back twice from two goals behind was great testament to the spirit and quality of the boys. That was the overriding factor. If you wanted to go into the game itself and the goals, you could be here forever."
But I suspect that KMac and his management team will have done exactly that. I don't think he will ever say the overriding factor is the 'spirit and the quality' - though they are plainly factors. Interesting to see and compare the new managerial style.

Bazza8564 added 10:37 - Feb 22
ChepstowBlue, I agree with the majority of what you have said, ill let the PSG stuff go over my head. In August we lost to both Burton and Cheltenham, having failed to take chances and then got bullied out of the game because we didn't have the organisational nous and the spirit. Im hoping saturday's game demonstrated that set against the August performances we have more about us now. We could have been two up easily, possibly more against Cheltenham and then it would (hopefully) have been a different matter. although we lacked a backbone we now seem to have found under KM. Games like Burton, Cheltenham, Accrington and Cambridge (all away) were all examples of it. Im absolutely not dismissing Cheltenham either and I agree it will be tough, but i sense a bit of unfinished business with them after August and pray we dig in like we did saturday. Burton was a classic of doing the tough yeards first then building. So often under Cook we got ourselves into leads playing sexy stuff without the ability to back it up with steel.

Marinersnose added 10:52 - Feb 22
I’d love to see an unchanged side tonight. All players have earned the right to keep their shirts. Piggott and Jackson for me really looks like it’s a really good partnership forming and they compliment each other. Piggott was very close to scoring and he won so many important balls. Bonne for me doesn’t merit another chance just yet except from the bench. It will be another tough game but in KMK we have the master tactician who will already have focused training on their weaknesses

Razor added 11:01 - Feb 22
Well if we win we will at least go within one point of Sheff Weds and be breathing down their necks!!

ChrisFelix added 12:51 - Feb 22
marinersnose i agree with you about Pigott.
Looking back to the Cheltenham game earlier in the season, Bonne missed a golden chance early on. These go in like Saturday, & we are likely to win.
They are so crucial in settling any side

cat added 14:56 - Feb 22
Like most others I’m rooting for Piggot to stick one away tonight (if he plays) cause when he does the roof will come off. I agree that a Jackson & Piggott front line would be awesome as they seem to compliment each other with their styles. Piggott is great on the ball and for a big man he possesses a great touch and even has a few tricks in his locker.
Three points a must tonight to close the gap and retain momentum.

TimmyH added 15:35 - Feb 22
It's amazing tonight if we win we'll still be in 9th place! it will be sods law we amass quite a number of points which would take us into the play-offs any other season but not this as all the above teams seem to be continually winning (other than Sunderland)...anyway it's payback time for what happened away at Cheltenham early on in the season tonight.

SussexTractor added 17:05 - Feb 22
Jackson and Piggott to start for me, with Norwood and Bonne coming on in the second half once their defence is knackered. They have an attacking threat as shown recently so important to give them the runaround for the first 60 minutes or so and to get the opening goal.

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