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Oh It Was One Of THOSE
Sometimes football is just shit... By: Eric Hitchmo 25/11/2009
Cheltenham Town A
24/11/2009   (Click date for match details)
League 2009-2010
L  1- 5
O'FLYNN '13
Attendance: 2331  (115 Away)
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Oh my head does still hurt from last night's battering. Don't get me wrong though as you read this, I have loved this season so far.  However Cheltenham away was one of those games where you can't help painting a very disillusioned picture, when you consider the stutter in form of last few games. One of those games where you question what it was that made you choose watching football as a hobby. We do THIS for fun?

As I say, don't get me wrong, we've had the opposite end of the spectrum already this season. Northampton away, if you will. That was the sort of night which makes games like Cheltenham away worth it. And it does, of course it does, in the grand scheme of things. However, you can't help question things after watching such an abject state of affairs, or more appropriately a defensive state of affairs.

Lest we forget that this team has kept five consecutive clean sheets at home, only four goals past in nine. Even this exact four comfortably kept Port Vale at bay on Saturday, and Cheltenham looked just as hopeless as Vale did. But a collective shambles saw that we were battered in a highly embarrassing manner, by a team that hadn't won in eleven, and looked shit scared every time we entered their half.

It'd be harsh to include Ahmed Deen in this appraisal. Playing on his wrong side, he once again defended admirably and was if anything, let down by the others. He has done well when called upon.

I have been a critic of Kenny Gillet this season I will admit, and I will hold my hands up and say he has begun to perform to a decent level in recent weeks. However, how he stayed on the pitch last night is anyone's guess. He was booked in the first half for a needless foul that led to the second goal, did something very similar five minutes later, and looked to have given away an absolute stone wall penalty after being caught out in the second half.

Even from where we were sitting, it looked like a no-brainer of a decision when the Cheltenham striker went through and was crudely sent to the ground after the defence was again breached following minimal pressure on them.

We were well on top for the early stages and took a deserved lead. I too have been a critic of Albert Jarrett's performances but he is one of few who can hold his head high from last night. He played very well and his crosses more often that not gave the Cheltenham defence something to think about. It was an excellent cross to John O'Flynn to head home early on.

The home side got a slight foothold in the game but really didn't look dangerous. Two of the most basic set pieces later, they were in front. It was schoolboy, and it came out of pretty much nowhere. Little did we know though what was still to follow.

Once Cheltenham went 3-1 up early on in the second half, after Gillet was beaten far too easily on the wing, they seemed to be happy to sit back and let us attack them. A side that were low in confidence and they looked it, despite leading. Every time we went forward, with Jarrett being a strong catalyst, they looked very uncomfortable. Who knows, perhaps on another night with a bit more luck and incisiveness, one of those balls would have dropped in the right place, we'd have nicked one back and who knows.

Jake Hyde came on and looked lively as ever. Hard working and deceptively strong, he gave us a different dimension up top. As I say, if one of those balls had dropped a little bit nicer in pretty poor conditions, who knows what could have happened. Little chances came and went and increasingly our chances for a comeback were fading.

The last five minutes though compounded what had been a shocker of a performance at the back. Jake Cole had little chance with what came his way. After three goals that could be attributed to basic defensive errors, the next two were barely believable. A loose touch from a long ball by Daniel Leach, and Cheltenham pounced. 4-1, nicely taken, a little flattering, but more defensive woes. More to come though still, as Leach was turned again and via the toes of Ismail Yakubu, lowly Cheltenham were beating us five bloody one. This was some sort of joke wasn't it?

This was my cue. I'd seen more than enough already. Walking around windy and wet Cheltenham and standing outside the car was more appealing than watching just two more minutes, plus stoppages, of this drivel. To be fair we'd made a gamble. Hendon had bought on the 16 year old striker to see what he could do and the defence was down to three men. But to lose in this manner did not soften any blows.

I don't know the most frustrating part was. The fact it was midweek, it was cold, Cheltenham being hopeless, us not keeping in touch with the top seven, dominating the game for fair periods, the most basic defending rules forgotten, or the realisation that the next game is at fucking Accrington. Either way, it all adds up and melds into one highly annoying, frustrating ball of disillusionment.

So we sit 11th. As I said after Saturday's game, we could be doing worse than this. I can hopefully put this down to a bad night at the office and hope that normal service can be resumed soon, as well as turning these away results around. I'm not going to start suddenly turning on the team or the manager though, even after the slight sense of disappointment above.

We are still involved and this team still shows glimpses of being able to challenge where we want to be, and that's saying something with the quality of some of the teams above us. We've still got to welcome many of them to Underhill, remember.

I'm confident that the experience of last night will be a very rare one though. I just don't see Ian Hendon allowing it. More Northampton's on the way? Why not?




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