Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Barry Whittleton

10 December 2018

Cheltenham Town 2 Grimsby Town 1

There is never a good time to visit Cheltenham. I used to enjoy a visit to the festival but, like top-flight football, it's been taken over by types with no real interest in the sport and are just there because it's a place to be seen.

Cheltenham as a football venue has nothing to recommend it. The ground is miles from the station, the station is miles from a decent pub, and when you get to the ground it's just an uninspiring prefabricated shed. Add in stewards who treat a visit from Town as a hostile invasion and Town's poor record here and you wonder why you bother.

The fact that so many regulars didn't rather backs that up – including my usual travel companions, which meant it was a solo train trip.

Harry Pell and Danny Wright may have left but Cheltenham remain a team that fall over faster than Lincoln and are as graceless as their fans – as shown at the end of the match by a fist-pump in the face of Harry Davis, who'd just given away a last-minute penalty.

The fact that their fans only appeared to be present once they scored completes the picture.

The game kicked off and Town were immediately on the front foot. Embleton flashed a shot across goal, Hendrie blazed over and Hessenthaler had a goal-bound shot blocked. When Wes Thomas then beat the keeper to a cross, only to head well wide, as a Town fan you just knew what was coming.

The always-dangerous Broom received the ball out wide, cut inside, and was not challenged quickly enough. His shot took a massive deflection off Collins and settled in the far corner.

The home fans made their first appearance of the day and the home team enjoyed their only spell of superiority of the game for the next 10 minutes.

As half time approached Town slowly reasserted themselves, but McKeown still needed to make his customary great save, turning away another deflected shot that he had no right to reach.

The second half started much the same, with Town dominant. Working the ball the full width of the pitch, Town forced the home team back.

The period which would now define the game followed. A dominant Town finally levelled. Thomas turned inside to improve a difficult angle and fired goalwards. A mixture of a block and the keeper deflected the shot but only to the onrushing Embleton, who smashed home.

Town were now encamped but squandered chances and good situations to take the lead. Embleton shot with Pringle and Thomas better placed. Dangerous crosses were dealt with by a stretched, desperate defence. The linesman, perfectly placed, stood still to deny a stonewall penalty when Pringle, racing to meet a cross, was pushed to the floor.

The same player then turned his man in the box, brought the ball to his favoured foot and shot from eight yards only for the keeper to save brilliantly. Thomas broke free and ran clear; the keeper repeated his heroics.

The game was lost when Broom crossed and Davis clumsily tangled with a striker. The ref pointed to the spot. McKeown got a hand to Thomas's penalty but couldn't keep it out.

The home fans reappeared and once again Town fans were left to trudge out of the ground feeling robbed at Cheltenham.