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Fan's view: Peter Fielding on the Oxford draw

1 December 2014

Cheltenham Town 1 Oxford United 1

Having left his American Dream to take the managerial job at Whaddon Road, new Cheltenham Town boss Paul Buckle was under no illusions as to the task facing him.

Having inherited a team that was low in numbers, form and confidence, his first task was to halt the Robins' losing run against local rivals Oxford United. Considering he had only met his players two days previously, it was commendable that he achieved this.

Buckle showed no qualms in rejecting Mark Yates' favoured back five, welcoming captain Matt Taylor back into a 4-4-2 formation. Instantly it looked an improvement.

The Robins started well, as central defenders Taylor and Troy Brown kept a potent Oxford strike-force at bay.

While Raffaele De Vita and Craig Braham-Barrett looked promising on the left, the Cheltenham Town right was considerably weaker, as out-of-position Kane Ferdinand failed to have a real impact on the game.

Meanwhile Jack Deaman struggled somewhat at right-back in place of the suspended Lee Vaughan, though showed no shortage of effort.

Neither side dictated the midfield battle, though the visitors were predominantly on top, as Trevor Carson was forced into a string of sensational saves to keep the score level.

With Harrison and Terry Gornell suffering from a distinct lack of service, a second-half improvement was required, and Buckle's men pleasingly responded.

A finally coherent attacking move saw Harrison brilliantly turn home Deaman's cross home to leave Whaddon Road rocking. Instantly, confidence soared both on the pitch and the stands.

The only disappointment was the Robins' inability to consolidate their lead, as a reluctance to go forward saw possession squandered and Tyrone Barnett draw Oxford level. In truth, it was no less than the visitors deserved.

From hereon in, only one side was going to win, though the Robins thankfully weathered the Oxford storm, showing the mental and physical strength not to yield.

As the game progressed, Carson's saves increased in brilliance, as he was deservedly named man-of-the-match.

In truth, the full-time whistle was something of a relief, as Buckle led his men to a profitable 1-1 draw. Furthermore, he appears to have forged a good rapport with supporters, who applauded Cheltenham Town off the field.

In just two-days, Buckle has been able to stop the rot, and boost the confidence of both his players and fans, ahead of a vitally important FA Cup tie against Dover.

Success will depend on a positive, yet realistic mind-set, and our new manager certainly offers that. There is a tough job ahead of him, particularly prior to the January transfer window, however the start he has made has been nothing but encouraging.

Buckle up, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Out of 10

Trevor Carson - 9 - Undoubtedly the best player on the pitch.

Jack Deaman - 7 - Played out-of-position and thus struggled, though set-up the goal well.

Troy Brown - 7 - A much improved performance from the inconsistent defender.

Matt Taylor - 8 - Performed superbly and captained the side well. A welcome return.

Craig Braham-Barrett - 6 - A surprisingly subdued display.

Kane Ferdinand - 6 - Failed to have a real impact though was out of position.

Jason Taylor - 6 - Large periods of the game passed the northerner by.

Matt Richards - 7 - Showed some good passing in midfield.

Raffaele De Vita - 7 - Looked the Robins' most promising attacking outlet.

Terry Gornell - 5 - It simply wasn't Terry's day as he struggled to contribute anything.

Byron Harrison - 7 - Took his goal very well and looked dangerous when in possession.

Substitutes

Zack Kotwica - 6 - Showed some bright touches but failed to have a real impact.

Joe Hanks - 6 - Admittedly not on for long, but failed to have a real impact.


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