Accrington Stanley 1 Cheltenham Town 1: Peter Fielding's view
139 loyal Cheltenham Town supporters left Lancashire filled with pride, after Russell Milton’s Robins played out a thoroughly encouraging 1-1 draw with Accrington Stanley.
The fact that both players and fans alike were even disappointed with gaining just a point instead of all three speaks volumes about Milton’s impact as manager; as he has certainly stopped the rot both on and off the pitch.
With Accrington enjoying a fine run of results, the game was always going to prove tricky, though the Robins looked considerably more resilient in defence than they have done in previous weeks.
In many respects, Lee Vaughan epitomises this transformation; having been restored to the team and repaying both his new boss and supporters with another immensely passionate display.
Despite the hosts enjoying much of the first-half possession, Vaughan and Wes Burns on the right looked the most potent pairing on the pitch, with the latter setting a freezing evening alight with impressive speed and nimble footwork.
Fittingly, he scored the opener from the corner he won; as for the first time in weeks, the Robins devised a fruitful set-piece and the Bristol City loanee headed home from Matt Richards’ cross.
Suddenly, Cheltenham Town didn’t look like a team in the bottom two, as they began to dictate the early stages of the second-half, with Richards, Joe Hanks and Jordan Wynter successfully controlling the midfield.
Frustratingly, however, just as it looked like it might be the evening that the Robins finally secured a previously elusive victory, a lapse in concentration against the run of play saw Accrington level through Shay McCartan.
From here on in, Milton’s men retreated back into their shells somewhat, as the tremendous yet exhausted Burns was tellingly double-marked out of the game, and the Robins struggled to create any clear-cut chances for frontmen Denny Johnstone and Eliot Richards.
Thankfully, however, Cheltenham stood resolute in the final stages, refusing to buckle to Stanley’s late pressure and securing a share of the spoils. This might not have happened a couple of weeks ago.
Again, they left the pitch to rapturous applause, as despite his side remaining in bottom two, Milton’s name rung out across the Crown Ground.
Hunger, desire and fight were evident in abundance from the players, though there is still plenty to work on. Anticipated arrivals next week should help with that, as the Robins would benefit from reinforcements on the left and a little more midfield steel.
All in all, however, the evening was overwhelmingly profitable. Any points we pick up before the end of the season are points gained, and they could make all the difference.
Unity and pride has been restored, performances are improving, and the club is now primed to fight for League Two survival. We’re all in it together, and if Milton carries on his good work, we have every chance of staving off the drop.