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12 September 2020 Venue Jonny-Rocks Stadium Attendance

Kick off 15:00 (UK)

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English Football League - League Two

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Match Previews

Preview: Morecambe

11 September 2020

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The 2020/21 League Two season gets underway at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium on Saturday with an opening day clash against Morecambe (kick-off: 3pm).

It's a long trip south for the Shrimps for a match taking place behind closed doors because of covid-19.

Michael Duff has already highlighted the challenge he's expecting from this weekend's opponents, so he'll be hoping his team can rise to that threat and record another positive result after back-to-back cup victories over the past seven days.

Please do not attempt to visit the stadium on Saturday as you'll be unable to gain access with the match taking place behind closed doors.

You can keep an eye on all of the action by watching with a match pass online with iFollow.

Team news

A decision will be made on whether Lewis Freestone will be fit to feature after the defender picked up a foot injury at Newport in midweek.

Scott Flinders and Sean Long definitely miss out through injuries.

Some of the players who weren't involved in the midweek EFL Trophy game are expected to return to the side.

Watch Michael Duff's pre-match thoughts on the game below.

Opposition

Morecambe ended last season just above the drop zone in League Two when the final league table was determined on points per game.

They head into another campaign at this level, their 14th consecutive season in the fourth tier, with boss Derek Adams in charge for his first full season in charge of the Lancashire outfit.

The ex-Plymouth Argyle manager took over from long-serving boss Jim Bentley during last season and he's made a number of changes to the squad at the Mazuma Stadium which he'll be hoping will help the Shrimps edge up the league standings.

Experienced campaigners Nathaniel Knight-Percival and Ben Pringle are new additions, while former Robins forward Liam McAlinden has also made a return to the League after spending last season in the National League.

Long-serving players such as Alex Kenyon and Aaron Wildig remain to provide an important spine to their set-up.

The manager

Derek Adams has tasted success in League Two before. He won promotion out of this level when he was in charge at Plymouth in 2017, while he's also achieved honours in his time as manager at Ross County in Scotland too where he enjoyed two spells.

The 45-year-old Glaswegian was a midfielder back in his playing days where he represented the likes of Motherwell, Aberdeen and Livingston - as well as having two separate spells with Ross County before he went onto be manager at the Dingwall club.

One to watch

Toumani Diagouraga followed his former manager to Lancashire back in January after his time at Swindon Town came to an end.

A dominant midfielder who started his career at Watford, the Frenchman has also represented Hereford United, Peterborough United, Portsmouth, Plymouth Argyle, Fleetwood Town and most notably Brentford throughout the EFL. It was with the Bees where he made over 200 appearances.

He's won promotion from this level before with Hereford and got promoted into the Championship while on the books at Brentford.

At 33 years of age he still has plenty to give and will be seen as a real leader in the Morecambe line-up this term.

Match programme

There is a 60 page digital version of the match programme available to buy for £1 for the match. This will be available to buy online soon.

You can also purchase a 24 page printed hard copy edition if you'd like to get your hands on a physical copy.

The big interview in both programmes is with forward Andy Williams as he details his experiences at the club so far, what life was like at Northampton during last season's League Two play-offs, and the leadership he's looking to bring to this season's squad.

Interviews with Dan Bowry and under-18s manager Pete Haynes also feature in both editions, while the digital edition features more from the under-18s, Ladies, the latest around the club and a look back at our two fixtures already this season.

Watch the match on iFollow

You can check out all of the action for the whole 90 minutes by watching the game online with iFollow.

Match passes are available to purchase in the lead up to kick-off and are available to buy for £10.

Season ticket holders will have been emailed a special one-off passcode this week to be able to receive the iFollow coverage for free when registering it online. Here's our step-by-step guide to registering for iFollow for the match.

Coverage

As well as being able to watch the game live on iFollow online, you can also tune into radio coverage with BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

Stay up to date online through social media too. Follow the club's accounts for team news and updates with images from inside the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.

After the game check out the club website to read a match report and to hear reaction from inside the camp.

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Match Reports

Report & highlights: Robins 1-2 Morecambe

12 September 2020

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Cheltenham Town slipped to a disappointing defeat on the opening day of the 2020/21 EFL campaign, shipping two late goals to surrender a lead thanks to Alfie May's goal before the break.

Things looked so promising at the half-way point after May had capped an impressive first half display by opening his account midway through the opening 45 minutes.

But the introduction of former Robin striker Liam McAlinden turned the game upside down, handing the visitors the initiative with an effervescent display that led to Adam Phillips – from the spot – and Carlos Mendes Gomes handing their side a dramatic opening day victory.

The loss left Michael Duff frustrated after the final whistle.

"We were in total control until we scored the goal, and then came away from what we did.

"We didn't pass the once in the second half and the back three looked as if they'd never played together which we talked about at half-time.

"We didn't take responsibility to take the ball and went too long and the penalty compounded it. They were two really poor goals to concede."

Duff made one change to the side that defeated Peterborough in the Carabao Cup the previous Saturday.

In came Will Boyle for Lewis Freestone, who missed out with a foot injury. There were four debutants in the side in Josh Griffiths, Finn Azaz, Liam Sercombe and Andy Williams and two of them combined after nine minutes to fashion the first opening.

Azaz twisted and turned away from his marker to lift a ball to the back post, but Williams glanced his header wide.

Another, Griffiths, produced a smart reflex save to deny the visitors an equaliser with a deflected cross moments later.

The Robins broke the deadlock with 28 minutes play when May was quickest to react to Conor Thomas' cross, which came back off the bar. The ball bounced loose and the diminutive striker smashed it home to open his account for the season.

There was a let off for Ben Tozer approaching half-time, when he misjudged his header to allow Cole Stockton a chance, but the striker lifted his effort wide of the right post.

McAlinden came on at the break and really made a difference to Morecambe in attack. He went close to pulling his latest side level within minutes of the restart but he pulled his effort a foot wide of the right post. Next he curled one wide while there was a chance for Boyle, but Jake Turner saved.

The visitors were deservedly level with 12 minutes to play after Chris Clements had tangled with Phillips to concede a penalty. Phillips took responsibility himself, stepping up to beat Griffiths down the middle.

Carlos Medes Gomes was a whisker away from snatching a late win with a clever effort while late substitute Reuben Reid watched an angled effort roll agonisingly wide as the game entered injury time.

Morecambe completed the comeback deep into added on time after a counter attack spearheaded by McAlinden, teeing up Mendes Gomes 12 yards out who cooly picked his spot to hand the visitors all the points on the opening day.

CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): Griffiths; Raglan, Tozer (c), Boyle; Thomas, Azaz, Clements (Blair 81), Sercombe, Hussey; Williams (Reid 85), May (Addai 74). Subs not used: Bowry, Lloyd, Harris (Gk), Bonds.

MORECAMBE (3-5-2): Turner; Hendrie, Davis, Knight-Percival; Mellor, Pringle (Kenyon 82), Diagouraga, Phillips, Hendrie; Phillips (O'Sullivan 88), Stockton (McAlinden 46). Subs not used: Slew, Halstead (Gk), Cooney, Price.

REFEREE: C Brook

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