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16 February 2021 Venue Banks's Stadium Attendance

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Previews

Preview: Walsall

16 February 2021

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A quickly rearranged trip to a Walsall side who have experienced recent managerial upheaval is up next for Cheltenham Town on Tuesday (kick-off: 7pm).

Saturday's fixture at the Banks's Stadium was postponed because of a frozen pitch, and the two teams now meet on Tuesday looking to complete another game in an otherwise hectic League Two fixture schedule.

Since the weekend the Saddlers have seen some major changes in their managerial hierarchy. Brian Dutton has been appointed as acting Head Coach until the end of the season, stepping in to the top role after the departure of manager Darrell Clarke, who has been appointed as the new boss at Port Vale.

Cheltenham will be aiming to make the most of the managerial switch around at their opponents, while also targeting a season double over the Saddlers, for what's sure to be another tight affair.

Watch the game in full online on Tuesday by purchasing an iFollow match pass online ahead of kick-off.

Team news

Ellis Chapman is expected to be back involved in the squad after a recent thigh injury ruled him out. He will fill the void created by Chris Clements after the midfielder suffered a hamstring injury in the win at Harrogate Town last time out.

Manager Michael Duff spoke to the press on Thursday to look ahead to the game. Defender Sean Long has also been previewing the fixture when he spoke to the media.

Opposition

Unbeaten in four games going into Tuesday's fixture, Walsall will be looking to add to that run, though will do so under the leadership of Brian Dutton after Darrell Clarke's switch to take over at Port Vale on Monday.

They are 11th in League Two and sit six points outside of the play-off places which they will be looking to make a surge for in the second half of the League Two campaign.

Their goalkeeper, Liam Roberts, is approaching a decade of first team squad service having risen through the ranks with the Saddlers.

In front of him they feature a defence that includes January loan addition from Lincoln City, Max Melbourne, who scored on his debut after joining against Mansfield. Dan Scarr has been a reliable figure having developed in non-league football around the Midlands, while Hayden White brings useful League experience.

Their midfield options include 19-year-old Alfie Bates who is the latest academy product to break into the first team. Bates has followed in the footsteps of Liam Kinsella who has now racked up over a hundred League showings, while they may also turn to the experienced Stuart Sinclair, Emmanuel Osadebe or AFC Bournemouth loanee Frank Vincent if needed in this area.

At the top of the pitch they lost former Cheltenham loanee Elijah Adebayo to Championship side Luton Town for an undisclosed fee in January. They'll be hoping Northern Irishman Caolan Lavery will be able to provide goals in the second half of the campaign.

Wes McDonald adds creativity in the final third, Tyreik Wright is a teammate of Indian Vassilev's in the Aston Villa under-23s set-up and moved on loan to the Banks's Stadium in the transfer window, while Frenchman Derick Osei was another mid-season forward arrival on loan from Oxford United.

The Head Coach: Brian Dutton

Brian Dutton will take charge of his first game as Walsall's new interim Head Coach - a position he has agreed to fulfil until the end of the season in the wake of Darrell Clarke's departure to Port Vale.

The 35-year-old is a long-term colleague of Clarke. He firstly played under him in his non-league days at Salisbury City and then when he finished playing became a part of his coaching staff at Bristol Rovers, firstly in the academy before progressing into the first team set-up.

In his playing days he featured mainly in non-league though he did begin his career in the Football League with Cambridge United. After that spells at Weymouth, Eastleigh, Salisbury City, Harrogate Town, Northwich Victoria, Havant & Waterlooville and Eastbourne Borough followed.

He is being supported in his new role by defender Mat Sadler and goalkeeper coach Maik Taylor - a former Northern Ireland international teammate of Michael Duff's.

One to watch: Josh Gordon

Attacker Josh Gordon has registered five goals in 18 appearances for the Saddlers this season.

The 26-year-old is in his third season at the Banks's Stadium after transferring from Premier League side Leicester City where he had been a part of the under-23s set-up with the Foxes.

He began his career in non-league football, featuring for Newcastle Town, Stafford Rangers, Nantwich Town and Welsh side Rhyl before he got his break with Leicester.

Watch the match on iFollow

Full match coverage of the game is available to watch online on iFollow. Purchase a match pass for £10 to watch.

Those who purchased match passes for the postponed fixture on Saturday will have access to the game.

Coverage

Stay tuned in to the club's social media channels for regular updates. Check out @CTFCofficial on Twitter for team news and match updates. The CTFC Facebook page also carries score updates, as does the club's Instagram account.

Post-match check out the club website to read a match report on the game and to hear from Michael Duff.

Extended highlights will be available on iFollow after the full time whistle.

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Match Reports

Report & highlights: Walsall 1-2 Robins

16 February 2021

Sponsored by

Goals by Sam Smith and Callum Wright, their first for the club, handed Cheltenham Town an impressive come-from-behind win at Walsall this evening.

The pair made their first starts for the club at the Banks's Stadium and provided the decisive moments to notch back-to-back wins on the road and extend their side's unbeaten run to eight matches.

Michael Duff's men made the worst possible start here, conceding the opening goal inside three minutes but they showed great character to get back into it with the goals arriving before the break.

And just as they did in Harrogate seven days ago, they made sure of victory with a resilient second half performance to ensure there wasn't any repeat of the kind of late drama that has previously frustrated the manager earlier in the campaign.

The result enhances their promotion prospects and stay third tonight after second placed Forest Green Rovers beat Oldham Athletic by the odd goal in seven.

"It was a solid away performance," Duff said afterwards.

"I think that's unbeaten in eight now and there were a few draws at the start of that but the most pleasing thing tonight was the way we saw it out.

"Earlier in the season we might have conceded later in the game but it looks like we've got back to a little bit like where we were last year when we were more dogged in the second half and saw the lead out.

"They've proved they're a hard team to beat but I don't remember Josh [Griffiths] having a save to make. To go one down so early and get the goals back was really pleasing."

He made two changes after the hard fought win at Harrogate seven days ago, naming the new boys in his starting eleven for the first time.

Chris Clements picked up an injury in Harrogate seven days ago and missed out, replaced by Wright who made his EFL debut following his arrival from Leicester City on loan.

Smith had already had a taste of action against Forest Green Rovers at the end of January and took the pace of Andy Williams, who dropped to the bench.

George Lloyd and Scott Flinders returned to the squad after a period of self-isolation while Liam Sercombe missed out with a minor injury, which is likely to rule him out for a fortnight.

The home side were managerless after the surprise departure of Darryl Clarke to Port Vale only 24 hours earlier but they had their noses in front with less than three minutes played.

Caolan Lavery scored it, a fine goal from 20 yards which floated over Josh Griffiths from an angle down the right. Ben Tozer had initially given it away to start the move but the striker still had plenty to do and applied a quality finish to put his side in front.

But Michael Duff's side responded postively following the early setback and went into the break with the advantage, thanks to the contribution to the new starters.

Wright's first meaningful play was to find Alfie May with a diagonal ball after 14 minutes, and the striker cut inside his marker and rolled an effort across Liam Roberts, the Walsall number one, only for it to come back off the right post.

But their first goal arrived ten minutes before the break after a poor ball out of the back by Dan Scarr, which Alfie May seized and surged into the box before unselfishly picking out a pass to Smith. The Reading man opened up his body and measured a finish past Roberts to sqauare the match.

They then took the lead with the interval approaching, Wright with a cripsly struck effort from more than 20 yards to beat Roberts at his near post.

Josh Gordon carried a threat for the Saddlers and went close with a glancing header on the hour mark while at the other end, Wright mistimed his run on to a Chris Hussey cross from the left and headed well over from a promising position.

It was his last action of the match, replaced by Indiana Vassilev with 22 minutes remaining. George Lloyd was also pressed into action at the expense of May and the two subsitutes immediate combined to create the next chance of the contest.

Lloyd took aim from the edge of the box and was denied by diving stop by Roberts, parrying into the path of Vassilev but the American was a fraction too late to force it home from close range.

There was a chance in the final minute for Gordon, who raced on to a through ball only to be denied by Griffiths who dropped to smother the danger at the striker's feet. Then Max Melbourne saw a late header held, resulting in back to back wins on the road for Michael Duff's side.

WALSALL (4-3-3): Roberts; White (Bates 74), Scarr, Sadler (c), Melbourne; Norman, Vincent, Kinsella; Gordon, Lavery (Nolan 74), McDonald (Osei Yaw 81). Subs not used: Rose (Gk), Cockerill-Mollett, Osadebe, Reid.

CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): Griffiths; Raglan, Tozer (c), Boyle; Blair, Wright (Vassilev 68), Azaz, Thomas, Hussey; May (Lloyd 68), Smith (Williams 85). Subs not used: Flinders (Gk), Long, Freestone, Chapman.

REFEREE: D Webb

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