Cheltenham Town: Fans' view of the Wimbledon win with Peter Fielding
After having only secured one home victory in 2013, and producing seven stagnant draws in the last ten games, one would not have forgiven Mark Yates for feeling a little hot under the collar.
With expectation levels high amongst supporters, it was key that a promotion push was resumed with three points against struggling AFC Wimbledon. His side did not fail to deliver.
From the first minute, it was evident that Cheltenham Town were going to play the passing football that we as fans have come to know and love; with a five man midfield dominating possession, and Sam Deering providing the link between the midfield and Paul Benson up front.
It took Cheltenham only nine minutes to take the lead, as a result of a free-kick won by the tenacious Deering. The famous ‘Wombling Song’ speaks of the creatures ‘making good use of the things that they find’, a notion that Steve Elliott put good use of when he found an unmarked space inside the AFC Wimbledon penalty area.
From a Billy Jones delivery, the veteran defender increased the Whaddon Road noise level in true heavy-metal style with a buoyant free header.
Smiles were back on the faces of supporters and optimism coursing through the veins, as the Robins could smell blood. Marlon Pack, a player rejuvenated from time out of the squad, ‘pinged’ the ball across the pitch, whilst captain Russell Penn led by example, wearing his heart on his sleeve.
The unmistakable Yorkshire-accented screams of Jason Taylor rallied the team on, whilst Deering’s work rate was admirable, using his low centre of gravity to beat opposing defenders and draw fouls.
The Robins continued to play impressive football, unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty after a seemingly unquestionable foul on Penn, playing out the rest of the first half 1-0 ahead.
The second half saw an AFC Wimbledon side backed by exactly 500 followers, raise their tempo, desperate to draw level and gain an important point for survival. Robins ‘keeper Scott Brown confidently passed a dangerous loose ball away from danger instead of the obligatory stand-clearing ‘hoof’, setting Russell Penn on a surging run.
The Robins captain squared to Darren Carter who produced a nonchalant strike to beat Neil Sullivan on the hour mark. The delight on the face of Mark Yates and Brown was clear for all to see.
After a Cheltenham lapse in concentration, Wimbledon substitute Brennan Dickenson set up a grandstand finish with a fine shot past Scott Brown. Minutes later the Dons could have drawn level thanks to striker and part-time tennis coach Jack Midson.
Fortunately however, the former Cheltenham Town transfer target was not able to serve up an equaliser, firing over an open goal, much to the dismay of the incredulous travelling supporters.
As the full time whistle sounded, one of the loudest cheers of the season resounded from the Cheltenham crowd, as the Robins finally secured an all important victory.
There was a moment to savour for all, as former club captain Alan Bennett bade an emotional farewell to Cheltenham Town FC - his 18 months in Gloucestershire will live long in the memory.
As salubrious weather returned to Whaddon Road, so did the feel-good factor, with the return of Ken Dodd’s’ ‘Happiness’ blaring over the tannoy system. We now have a starting XI capable of winning any game, with the addition of Sam Deering and Michael Hector to the squad making a hugely positive difference.
For the remainder of the season, consistency is paramount. Our win against Wimbledon must act as a catalyst for the remaining 10 games, starting against Chesterfield on Tuesday night.
Come on you Robins!
(A special mention to Lisa, Steven and JJ, honorary Cheltenham Town fans from London, who thoroughly enjoyed one of their first ever visits to Whaddon Road)
OUT OF TEN
Scott Brown - 7 - Produced some decent saves, and had an important part to play for the second Cheltenham goal.
Keith Lowe - 6 - Another steady performance from the fans’ favourite.
Michael Hector - 7 - Hector has a big future ahead of him if he continues his fine vein of form. Commanding the air and excellent at bringing the ball out of defence.
Steve Elliott - 8- Despite being an injury doubt, Elliott rolled back the years to score a trademark header, as well as commanding the back four.
Billy Jones - 6 - Still doesn’t look fully fit, but produced an excellent delivery for Steve Elliott’s opening goal.
Marlon Pack - 7- A transformed player since the perspective move to Swindon - Pack showed real quality when spreading play across the pitch.
Jason Taylor - 7 - Tough, loud, passionate - Everything you could ask for from the former Rotherham man.
Russell Penn - 7 - Penn marauded through the Wimbledon defence with powerful runs, as well as setting up Darren Carter for the winner.
Darren Carter - 6- A somewhat average performance from Carter who didn’t get into the game at times. He did however take his goal well.
Sam Deering - 8 - Another excellent performance from Deering, who is proving to be a vital part of our successful side.
Paul Benson - 6 - Held up the ball well but lacked service.
Kaid Mohamed - 6 - Managed to put himself and not the ball into the back of the net.
Byron Harrison and Jermaine McGlashan N/A