Paul Collicutt has challenged his Bishop’s Cleeve players to go from zeros to heroes in their FA Cup tie against Woking on tomorrow after their dismal league defeat on Tuesday.
Collicutt, who described the performance against Stourport Swifts as the worst of the season, has called upon his players to put things right against a Woking side who are used to being David rather than Goliath.
“Saturday’s game is a bonus as the lads have got a chance to go from zeros to heroes and cause an upset after a poor game,” said Collicutt.
“Not a lot went right that night, to be honest, I tried something different tactically, but I hold my hands up and say that didn’t work.
“It didn’t help that we conceded after four minutes. You can plan all you like, but when you concede that early it all goes out the window.”
Woking, who have a rich history as giantkillers in the FA Cup, are managed by Graham Baker, a man who Collicutt remembers playing with at a trial for Southampton.
“I played for Southampton Reserves with him and they offered me a contract as an apprentice,” he said.
“Cheltenham accepted on the condition that Southampton arranged a friendly.
“They even brought the FA Cup with them which had been won that year by the senior team.”
Woking head to Kayte Lane tomorrow as favourites, but Collicutt believes his side have what it takes to cause an upset, despite their poor performance against Stourport.
“The players didn’t play as well as they know they can and I’d say that was the poorest showing of the season, but my job is to make sure they get it out of their system,” he said.
A rejuvenated Julian Alsop will be available for selection tomorrow, but Sam Avery and Richard Mansell are doubtful after not being involved in Tuesday night’s game.
“Jules is fine for Saturday but Sam Avery and Richard Mansell are 50/50, so we will have a look at them at training and then make a decision,” said Collicutt.
“Perhaps we are underdogs, but the players are wound up and will raise their game come Saturday.”
Julian Alsop is a doubt for tonight's game against Stourport Swifts
TOP scorer Julian Alsop faces a race to be fit for Bishop’s Cleeve’s trip to Stourport Swifts tonight.
Boss Paul Collicutt said the big striker was nursing an ankle injury and might not be ready to play.
“Julian is struggling with his ankle and is a real doubt for tonight,” said Collicutt.
“Sam Avery has a problem with his hamstring too and Robert Mansell is definitely out after spending Saturday night in hospital with concussion.”
However, the return of Steve Jones and Mark Pritchett from a one and three-match ban respectively “evens it out a bit” according to Collicutt, who will be looking to build on his side’s draw against Almondsbury on Saturday.
When asked what he knew about Stourport Swifts, Collicutt admitted he didn’t know much about the latest team to be added to the South and West Division from the Midland league, but was concentrating on making sure his team were focused.
“A win in this league can lift you up four or five places so we really want to get the three points tonight,” he said.
“The league is the bread and butter and it is important we win tonight so we can take that positivity into the FA Cup tie against Woking on Saturday.”
Collicutt said Saturday’s game against Almondsbury was two points lost rather than one point gained and described Cleeve’s home form as “patchy”.
“I had a chat with their manager after the game and he said that was the fifth or sixth late goal they’ve scored this season,” he said.
“It was a disappointment as our goalkeeper only had one shot to deal with all game and before you know it, he was picking the ball out of the net.
“The only time they threatened us was set-plays and corners, so we showed a bit of a lack of concentration to concede so late on.
“When the ball was in play they didn’t look like troubling us at all.
“The most important thing is that we learn from it and concentrate on tonight.”
With Cleeve currently lying around mid-table in the Zamaretto League South and West Division, tonight’s game gives them the chance to move up to sixth as one of only four clubs to be involved in midweek games.
Here at strong on paper we like to cover a spectrum of topics regarding the footballing world but there are times when our partisanship gets the better of us – this post being the perfect example.
Wes Thomas, if you didn’t know, is Cheltenham Town’s newest striker and has got off to a flyer this season with 6 goals already. Now Wes is a breed of goalscorer we’ve missed at Whaddon Road over the last few years so his emergence got me thinking about other net-bulging heroes to grace the hallowed turf.
So, with this in mind, here are my top 5 Robins strikers, but before we begin the countdown I must warn you, this is my opinion – feel free to disagree and, I’ve only picked players I have seen,so those of you with longer memories please do tell me if I’ve missed someone off the list. Without further ado, here they are…
With 6 goals in 7 appearances Wes Thomas, who was acquired from League One-bound Dagenham, has certainly proven his ability when given the chance. Beginning his career in non-league football, Wes was soon snapped up by John Still at the Daggers but never got the chance to shine with the likes of Paul Benson keeping him out of the side. A player with a great burst of speed and positional awareness – attributes that back up his reputation as Cheltenham’s very own “fox in the box” – Wes appears to have a bright future ahead of him at Whaddon Road.
My number 4 is the man who cemented my love affair with the club when I was a bright-eyed 10-year-old. The day was May 17th, 1998, and the man, Jason Eaton, punctuated a relatively boring Wembley final with a goal to bring the FA Umbro Trophy home to Cheltenham. A real poacher, Eaton was an old fashioned forward with a knack for scoring important goals. A hat trick against unbeaten Halifax was his finest moment, where, interestingly enough, his opposite striker was none other than a young Geoff Horsefield.
One half of Cheltenham’s ‘little and large’ strike force, Tony Naylor struck up a formidable partnership with Julian Alsop in 2001-2002 and quickly became a fan favourite. Picked up from Port Vale by Steve Cotterill, Naylor wowed the Cotswold crowds with clever flicks and link up play showcasing probably the best footballing brain to wear the red and white stripes. The height difference between Naylor and Alsop was the largest in the Football League (a dubious record I’m sure you’ll agree), but what Naylor lacked in size he certainly made up for with footballing magic.
Coming in a close second, Julian Alsop, or ‘Jules’ as he’s affectionately known is a mountain of a man with a heart to match. During the 2001-2002 season, Jules scored 26 goals of which the majority were headers (it is said he scored more headers that season than anyone else in the the premier league, football league or SPL) and used his height and strength to forge a dangerous partnership with number 3 on our list – Tony Naylor. Returning in the 2009-2010 season, Jules managed to walk away with the Fan’s Player of the Season award after his committed performances confirmed his place in the hearts of Robins fans.
There was only one choice for the top spot and that man is Neil Grayson. Scorer of our first Football League goal, Grayson is a legend of the club in every sense. A dynamic striker who’s goals fired us into the Football League and onwards. He also scored what I consider the best Cheltenham goal of all time where, from a goal kick he let the ball bounce once, then, positioned on the halfway line, “Larry” swiveled and volleyed the ball over the stunned opposition’s keeper (please if anyone knows when and against whom this goal was, let me know, I can only remember it from the we are football league videotape!). Voted the best Cheltenham player of all time in a Sky Sports poll, Grayson has always been a player afforded heroic status amongst fans, and for good reason – in 162 appearances for the club he scored 48 times, a feat unmatched by any other Robin of the modern era.
So there you have it, my top 5 Cheltenham strikers, who knows, maybe Wes Thomas can force is way up the order in the coming seasons and as for you guys, thanks for indulging me and supporting the blog! If you have an opinion on your favourite Cheltenham Town strikers please do comment or take part in the poll below…
Stay tuned for more posts and some guest bloggers to give us a different perspective on the beautiful game.