Robins fan Matt Pegg prepares us all for the start of a new season versus Burton Albion.
The big kick-off has finally arrived.
After weeks and weeks of footballing drought, it delights me to say that this it is now just days until Cheltenham Town begin another campaign in League 2. With much expected of the Robins in 2013/14, not just from supporters, this season promises to be one of the most nail-biting, heart-pounding and perhaps trophy-lifting in recent memory.
A level playing field for all clubs, the first day of the domestic campaign allows fans from across the country to see new players in action for the first time competitively. While a poor result in Game 1 doesn't necessarily determine a season, it is an early indicator of the cohesion of a squad. With more than a few arrivals and departures at the ABS this summer, Saturday will be the first time that the likes of Jamie Cureton, Matt Richards, Troy Brown and others, get their chance to make a real impression in front of an expectant home crowd.
Our first challenge of the new season may be one of the toughest we will face, when our pained play-off brothers Burton Albion come to town. A side much improved last season under Gary Rowett, the Brewers have compiled a decent looking squad for the upcoming season, especially with the addition of Rory Delap.
Fresh out of the Premier League, Delap will offer experience as well as his well-publicised throw-in talents. However, Albion are heading south without two of their best players absent through injury. Frontman Rene Howe and midfield maestro Lee Bell will both be unavailable; a huge boost for Robins fans. It seems as though these injuries along with a lack of firepower upfront, hand us the advantage in this match up.
Cheltenham will have to be careful though. Burton will likely come to Whaddon Road with defence on their mind. They are a strong, powerful and intimidating squad who will be hard to break down. Cureton, Gornell and/or Harrison will have to be at their very best to break through the Brewers back line.
However, perhaps the most likely indication that the Robins will prevail in this opening fixture, is the respect that our beloved club now has from its League 2 compatriots. A glance over to Burton Albion websites indicates how difficult they believe this game will be for them, solely through the quality of our squad. Many of their own fans are already predicting defeat, with many referencing how good our home form has been for the last 2 seasons. Now, I am not one to get carried away with the relatively overwhelming positivity surrounding our club at the moment. However, I struggle to remember a time when Cheltenham were this feared in the football league. Even this time last year, many seemed to think that our play-off appearance was an unrepeatable fluke. Now, we are considered major contenders; the respect from Burton fans a perfect indication of this.
Okay…Here comes the part of the blog where I pray that I am spared embarrassment – making a prediction of Saturday’s score. While I can profess to have no Mystic Meg-like qualities, I do believe that, if all goes to plan, Cheltenham will take all three points on Saturday with a 2-0 victory.
One final addition: it would be great to see a bumper crowd at the ground on Saturday. Let’s help the boys kick off this new season in style!
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