Cheltenham Town Ladies manager Alex Cheal has praised the performances of his players after they pipped Buckland Athletic to a 1-0 victory at the Big Local Stadium on Sunday.
In their first FA Women’s National League game of 2020, the Robinesses were forced to make several changes to their starting eleven but were able to secure the three points thanks to Abby Bevan’s first-half strike.
Cheal was pleased with the outcome and insists the younger players will be rewarded for their showings.
“They were difficult conditions. We were in difficult circumstances heading into the game. Buckland are always a tough opposition anyway,” he said.
“I’m delighted. We had to bring in a few young ones and they really stood up to the test. I’m really proud of how they performed, and three points is a massive thing for us having not played for so long competitively.
“I think we’ve taken stock of where we are at the minute and of the experienced players we had.
“Some of those now are ruling themselves out or going elsewhere and we’ve now decided that that’s the route we now want to go down. So these young players will get an opportunity throughout this season.”
The visitors started the stronger of the two teams and looked to catch the hosts’ makeshift defence on the break only to be stopped by the offside flag.
Cheltenham continued to press high and their efforts nearly paid off as Sarah King won the ball back and played through captain Annie Martin who managed to test the opposition goalkeeper for the first time.
Neither side were able to create any clear cut chances until the 33rd minute when Martin picked Bevan out with a looping pass. The midfielder then curled the ball around the goalkeeper from the edge of the box to put the Robinesses ahead.
The second half was just as tight as the first, as Buckland searched for an equaliser. They created an opening just after the break, but defender Sammy Hallsworth made a last-ditch block.
They came close again as they broke down the right and put in a driven cross, which was met but poked wide by their stretching striker.
Both teams were able to deny any further chances as Cheltenham managed to hang on to claim the points.
They’ll be looking to continue their winning start to the year when they host Larkhall next weekend.
The reserves were also victorious, beating Downend Flyers 6-0 in Teweksbury.