Part one of our 2013-14 season review.
After two consecutive years finishing in the League Two play-off spots, Cheltenham Town were very much brought back down to earth with a bump in the 2013-14 campaign.
Any hopes of a third consecutive push for the play-offs were brushed away by March with form and consistency largely non-existent throughout the League Two season. It had been a season of few ups, a lot more downs and the nagging frustration that any lead Cheltenham Town were to take would vanish pretty quickly.
The 2013-14 season itself actually started on a positive note with many holding out hopes that Cheltenham Town could go one step further and really make a push for promotion. The signing of Troy Brown, Matt Richards, Ashley Vincent and Jamie Cureton developed much excitement around Whaddon Road and the news of Brockworth boy Zack Kotwica signing a first professional deal also gave a lift to the club and local football.
The first game, at home to Burton Albion, was a good game of football and predictably the man to score the first goal of the season was veteran striker Jamie Cureton but it came at a cost with the forward dislocating his shoulder in the process. Despite that setback his replacement Byron Harrison, who had taken a lot of criticism in pre-season, extended the lead only for Burton Albion to formulate a comeback in which scored twice to finish the game at 2-2. Just the first glimpse of what was going to be the tale of Cheltenham’s season for much of the campaign.
The Byron Harrison show rumbled on and the big striker led his team to victory over Crawley in the first round of the League Cup setting up a glamorous second round tie away at West Ham United’s Upton Park. Losses to Chesterfield and Plymouth Argyle continued the poor start to the league season before a first league victory of the season came away at Accrington Stanley with the unlikely hero Jason Taylor snatching the winning goal, albeit via a deflection. A terrific performance away at West Ham deserved so much more than the resulting 2-1 loss but a loss to Bury was next followed by penalty heartache in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Plymouth and two hard working draws at home to Portsmouth and Oxford United. Another loss, this time away at Torquay United, had to be endured before the Robins finally found their feet again with a 1-0 last gasp win versus AFC Wimbledon courtesy of Jamie Cureton’s deft touch.
October proved to be marginally better for Mark Yates’ Robins with two wins, two defeats and one draw but perhaps the moment of the month came courtesy of Jamie Cureton once again who bagged his 250th career goal in the 2-1 win at Dagenham & Redbridge. The 3-0 victory at home to Morecambe promised so much but it was short-lived as disappointment was only just around the corner. Two seasons of FA Cup magic for the Robins had been outstanding for the club’s coffers but when the Robins rocked up at Tamworth on Saturday 9th November, there was certainly anxiety in the air. A poor first half and a Tamworth goal stunned Cheltenham and, despite an improved second half, the Robins could not find a way back into the game. Their FA Cup dream was over at the first hurdle and in dramatic fashion. That result was a blow to the club on and off the pitch.
Despite cup disappointment, the Robins did win away at Wycombe in the following match but a barren run of three draws finished November in unspectacular fashion.
November also saw the departure of first team coach Dave Kevan who only joined the club back in September but the role of assistant manager at Forest Green turned his head and Kevan promptly left Whaddon Road.
December was largely successful however with wins at Morecambe, Fleetwood and at home to Exeter showing promise once again but Cheltenham were beaten by Mansfield to end the year and an 11 league game unbeaten run with fans left unsure of what was to come from their faithful Robins in 2014.
Part two of the 2013-14 season review will be published here on www.ctfc.com at 1pm tomorrow...