Tom Davies admitted that his team's development is all ‘part of a process’ as the Robinesses surrender a two goal lead to draw 3-3 against Larkhall Athletic Women.
A brace from Jade Grove (pictured) made it seem like the points were coming back to Gloucestershire but an inspired fightback saw the points shared in Bath in the FA Women’s National League.
After the game, Davies admitted his disappointment in the result but also put things into perspective in terms of his team's development and where they are at as a group.
He said: “Our emotion is that we’ve obviously been in front and it’s disappointing to lose a 3-1 lead. It’s the same thing that we spoke about on Thursday, and the same thing was spoken about in the dressing room today.
“We are part of a process and we are building and we haven’t in that periodisation area yet in terms of final third. When we get there, we should be more productive and defensively we need be more organised.
“It was unfortunate that we have had an injury at half-time and have had to rotate. And Bex (Rebecca Halford) has had her third partner in seven days, so those things don’t help.
“We have to get on with those things and credit to Larkhall, 3-1 down and they have created some chances so fair play to them.”
Pre-match, the manager was looking for a reaction from his side after the disappointing 3-2 loss to Swindon on Thursday, and he got exactly that with the Robinesses fast start to the game.
Forward Sarah King nearly found the bottom corner at the near post after only seven minutes.
But it didn’t take long for Davies’ side to take the lead with Charlotte Criddle curling in a beauty of a free kick into the bottom corner of the net in the 11th minute. That free kick goal made it two goals in two games for Criddle. Both goals in fact were ironically free kicks. One today and one on Thursday against Swindon.
The home side nearly hit back a few minutes later with attacker Rhian Robbins rounding Cheltenham goalkeeper Robyn Levett and hitting the post from an acute angle to the relief of the whole defence.
That scare didn’t put the away side off their attacking game, and a goalkeeper error was pounced upon by Lauren Kayll who slotted in striker Grove and the latter arrowed her effort into the far corner to make it 2-0 to Cheltenham in the 26th minute.
Larkhall then woke up and started causing the visitors problems immediately, as the first attack after the second goal lead to a penalty which Carly Bryant put away to make it 1-2.
Davies’ side did manage to hold on till half-time despite a flurry of attacks from the home side. The whistle came at the right time for Cheltenham as it allowed the team to regroup and go again.
And that’s exactly what happened. The high tempo came back to the Robinesses game as the second half resumed and Grove looked hungry for more goals. The ex-Aston Villa striker had a deflected effort which dropped wide of the far post. The effort just evaded the run of Abby Bevan who was closing in on the shot.
It didn’t take too long for Grove to get involved in the action again as she managed to fire her effort over the goalkeeper and in to the top of the net to make it 3-1 to the away side.
But the same pattern of the first half replicated itself in the second. Larkhall took advantage of the drop in concentration from the Robinesses and scored two goals in the 54th and 61st minutes to level the game.
Larkhall’s Robbins bagged both goals. One a one-on-one finish which she slotted under Levett. And the other a lovely chip over Levett.
The tempo did pick back up in the last part of the game as the Robinesses hunted a winner, but it just wasn’t meant to be as Davies’ side had to settle with a point in the end. A point which the manager saw as a point gained but also two lost.
“It’s both- naturally”, Davies said. “Every game we go into, we want to get three points. Like I said, it’s a building phase and it’s important that we stick to that and debrief in the right way which we have done.”
“We want to win every game and there is going to be no let up there. We want to be relentless and get into this mentality. But we have to accept when we play against strong sides that have quality players and experience and that’s happened today.
“We will debrief and learn from it like we did on Thursday and we will be back again.”
This result leaves Cheltenham 7th in the table with three games played so far.
A total of 50 fans attended the game today at a rainy Plain Ham stadium.
Davies was happy having supporters back in the ground claiming that it feels more ‘realistic’.
He went on to add: “When you play behind closed doors, it is a very strange environment.
“Obviously higher up the pyramid, it would be even more strange with more fans usually being there.
“But it was nice having everyone back in, obviously cheering when we score and vice versa for the other teams.
“But it was nice having everybody back in. The more we can do that the better, so let’s hope it continues.”
The Robinesses are next in action next Sunday when they host 8th placed Maidenhead United at the Big Local Stadium, with kick off being at 2pm.