Friday, January 06, 2012

FA Cup Tottenham v Cheltenham Town

Cheltenham Town from League 2 visit White Hart Lane in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup for the first ever match between the two clubs.  This is Spurs' fifth successive home draw on 3rd Round day and their seventh in the past nine seasons.  Cheltenham's best performance in the FA Cup was reaching the 5th Round ten years ago.  This is their fifth appearance in the 3rd Round and last season they were knocked out in the 2nd Round at Southampton.  

Cheltenham Town, known as 'The Robins', was founded in 1887 and played its football in the Southern League until joining the Football Conference in 1997.  In their two seasons there they finished as runners-up and then Champions so gaining promotion to the Football League at the end of season 1998 - 99 under manager, Steve Cotterill. 

Cheltenham have maintained their League status since then and finished eighth in their first season in the Football League.  After three seasons they won promotion but Cotterill left to become manager of Stoke City.  They were immediately relegated after just one season in Division 1 and their pattern of League promotions/relegations has taken on a three year pattern - winning promotion after three years followed by relegation to Division 2 three years later.  Currently, after another three years, they are second in League 2 and in perfect position for another promotion.

Cheltenham are managed by Mark Yates who replaced Martin Allen three years ago.  Their season didn't start in the best way with a defeat at Gillingham.  They then lost to MK Dons in the Carling Cup but had their first win of the season at home to local rivals, Swindon Town.  They lost their next home match to Morecambe before winning at Northampton Town and inflicting the first League defeat of newly promoted and current League Two leaders, Crawley Town at their Abbey Business Stadium, Whaddon Road ground.

They are now a point behind Crawley at the top of League 2 having won 11 of their last 15 games with nine wins in their last 10 away matches and a 2 - 1 win at Port Vale last Monday when Alan Bennett and Brian Smikle scored in the second half.  With such a record Cheltenham will come to White Hart Lane with a confidence in their play.  On their last visit to North London in mid-December, they drew 2 - 2 with Barnet.  A Kaid Mohamed goal and a Duffy penalty gave them a goal advantage at the interval but Barnet drew level with a second half penalty.

"A Mix of experience and youth"
As Mark Yates admits himself, his team has "one or two experienced campaigners who will enjoy the game and a couple of younger players who will have the chance to show what they're about.' 

Scott Brown joined Cheltenham in 2005 and has over 140 League appearances for them. He started at the Wolves Academy but failed to make the breakthrough and moved to non-League football and arrived at Cheltenham as understudy but has now made the position his own.

They are captained by defender Alan Bennett who has two caps for the Republic of Ireland.  He made over 160 appearances for Cork City in the League of Ireland before moving into football in England.  He joined Reading in 2007 but didn't play for them and played last season with Wycombe Wanderers and joined Cheltenham in 2011.

Steve Elliott is another experienced defender who had six seasons with Bristol Rovers and over 200 appearances.  He signed for "the Robins' in 2010.

Cheltenham's leading goalscorer is Darryl Duffy.  He is a Scotland 'B' international and started his career with Glasgow Rangers, playing once.  He moved to Falkirk and into England with Hull, Swansea and Bristol Rovers, before joining Cheltenham in 2011.  He has scored 11 goals this season - 7 in the League, 2 FA Cup goals and 2 others.  

James Spencer has 7 goals with 6 in the Leagie and 1 other.  He is on loan from Huddersfield Town for the season.

Kaid Mohamed has scored 6 league goals and plays on the wing or as a striker.  He started in Welsh football before joining Swindon Town.  Last season he helped AFC Wimbledon win promotion to the Football League and joined Cheltenham in the summer.
Jeff Gouding has five goals with 4 in the league and one other.  He had considerable non-League experience before spending two seasons with Bournemouth and joined Cheltenham in June, 2010.

Luke Garbutt is a young defender who has been on loan from Everton and has represented England at age groups up to Under-19 level.

FA Cup Road to White Hart Lane
Cheltenham's visit to London is their third away tie in this season's FA Cup.  

They started off by defeating Tranmere Rovers 1 - 0  in the 1st Round with a first half penalty scored by Duffy.  

They then overcame non-League Luton Town by 4 - 2  in the next round.  Duffy gave Cheltenham the perfect start with a goal after two minutes.  Luton equalised five minutes before the interval but Cheltenham snatched the lead on the half-time whistle through Marlon Pack.  Luton drew level again early in the second half but two further goals from Luke Summerfield after 64 minutes and one in added time from Russell Penn ensured their progress to the FA Cup 3rd Round draw.

Former Spurs players and Cheltenham
David Hutton joined the Tottenham Academy in 2006–07 and in March 2009, he went on loan to Cheltenham Town and made his league debut against Leyton Orient.  Hutton's first league and Cheltenham goal came on 10 April 2009 in a 1–1 draw at Peterborough United.

He signed for Cheltenham that summer on a one-year deal but was released by the club the following year.  After a brief spell with St. Albams City he signed with Glenn Hoddle's team in Spain, Jerez Industrial.  He is currently playing for Borehamwood.

Sam Cox had a month with Cheltenham on loan from Spurs in 2009.  He came through the Spurs Academy, playing in midfield or defence, but after further periods out on loan he was released in June, 2010 and joined Barnet.  He is currently on loan with Borehamwood.

Harry Redknapp has shown little appetite for Cup football since his arrival at White Hart Lane and once again has the League and Champions League qualification as his first ambition.  He will be looking to rest many of his experienced players who have had a busy fortnight with the holiday matches and he will be wanting all of them available for next Wednesday's game with Everton and the crucial matches through January.  With injuries taking their toll to squad players, Vedran Corluka and Sandro, it could be quite an inexperienced side which plays against Cheltenham.  Some of the younger players who played in the Europa League have gone out on loan already, Andros Townsend and Harry Kane, so they are not available either.  Michael Dawson and Aaron Lennon may return after injury which would bring much needed experience and whatever team plays, they should have enough experience to overcome the threat presented by Cheltenham.


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