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VIDEO: Paul Baker fires rallying call after FA Cup exit

8 December 2014

Cheltenham Town chairman Paul Baker says the playing squad will be strengthened in January, despite Sunday’s FA Cup second round defeat by Dover Athletic.

The club missed out on £27,000 in prize money as well as a potentially lucrative tie in round three, with Connor Essam’s goal enough to take the part-timers through at a deflated Whaddon Road.

“Obviously it was hugely disappointing and I was very down after the game,” Baker said.

“I am sure my views mirrored those of everyone who came along and the Cheltenham fans made their views known.

“It was such a big opportunity to be in the hat for the third round and we all hoped we’d be looking forward to that.”

The tie was new boss Paul Buckle’s second match in charge since taking over from Mark Yates, while it was Rob Edwards’ first match as assistant having taken over from Shaun North last week.

“We have to accept, despite the disappointment, we’ve had two weeks of turmoil at the club, with the appointment of a new manager and assistant manager,” Baker said.

“It’s been manic and to expect Paul Buckle to wave a magic wand and turn everything around immediately is expecting too much.

“Football is a lot about confidence and Dover came here 10 games unbeaten, with confidence high and our players are having a struggle at the moment.

“It will take time to bed in the new personnel and while it’s hard to take a positive from the defeat, we still made between £50,000 and £60,000 from the FA Cup, which wasn’t budgeted for.

“We have made tough decisions and we can now start making them work. I am comfortable we have made the right decisions and you can argue about the timing of them.

“Some will say we should have made them earlier, some will say we should have made them last season, but we are where we are and I am encouraged and enthused by what’s happening behind the scenes already, but it’ll take time for them to change systems and work with the players.

“The transfer window closing the day after Paul arrived didn’t help, but it’s where we are. The window opens again in January and we will be looking to strengthen the squad.

“The FA Cup would have helped, but we’ll still be able to do something and we have to because we can’t expect a manager to come in and not give him some tools to do the job.

“I am meeting with Paul and Rob Edwards on Monday afternoon to discuss their plans for January because we need to be prepared to move quite quickly on some specific targets.

“We need to get some points on the board, starting with Mansfield on Saturday.”

Baker refuted claims that Cheltenham’s players did not put in maximum effort against Dover.

“I believe the players gave their best and the work ethic was there,” he said.

“I plead with fans to give the management team some time and patience, get behind the players and while they may not be the best loved group we’ve ever had, gone are the days when we are going to have players like Banks and Grayson who are here year after year - that’s not the nature of lower league football nowadays.

“Players tend to have shorter term contracts, which often suits the club as well as the player, but these are the players we have got, they are working much harder in training now.

“They are a good bunch of players, with strong characters so let’s hope with the support of the fans, we can turn around a difficult situation.

“It’s not too dissimilar to when Mark Yates took over from Martin Allen and we’ve been in some tough situations at Cheltenham Town over the years, but believe you me, we've been tougher places than this.

“It’s about sticking together and getting behind the team. The board are right behind the manager and we will have great times again if we stick together.

“I think some of our players’ body language does not help them, but you can’t change that. I think they all worked hard against a physical Dover side in heavy conditions. I don’t think you can fault the workrate, but you can fault the quality and the decision making.

“That comes from a lack of confidence and when that starts going again, they will start believing in themselves, taking their chances and remember the same group of players won at Bury, Tranmere and Cambridge.

“Sometimes you have to experience the lows to appreciate the highs. These are some lows, but we still have a realistic chance to have a good season.

“We have lots of big games coming up, so I ask fans to come along and get behind the team. We really appreciate your support.”

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