Ten things about Cheltenham on Saturday!

  1. First of all congratulations to Cheltenham who thoroughly deserved the three points on the balance of play. Whilst accepting that we were down to ten men for eighty odd minutes (there were ten minutes added on at the end of the first half for an injury to one of their players!), they simply wanted it so much more than us and completely tore us apart for the vast majority of the second half.
  2. It had all started differently. The vociferous Silkmen faithful housed in the Hazlewood’s Stand behind one of the goals, urged their heroes on from the first minute and for the first fifteen minutes or so there was only one team in it! We got the goal our early dominance deserved when the industrious Scotty Wilson was bundled over and Michael Rose scored the opener with albeit a little assistance from the post and Scott Flinders who didn’t exactly cover himself in glory in this game may I say?
  3. The turning point in the game was when the usually peerless Nathan Cameron was very harshly judged to have fouled an opposition forward closing in on him when heading back to Silkmen keeper O’Hara. The hugely popular Cameron was subsequently sent off for violent conduct at the behest of the linesman (I hate the word assistant referee) to the fury of the huge majority of the Silkmen faithful who couldn’t believe what they were witnessing . Some of the less volatile amongst the Silkmen following (hello Chris Rose) argued that he could see why the decision had been made. However, it seemed incredibly harsh and as PBJ and I were leaving the ground, two Gloucestershire Policemen commented to us that they had been in direct line of the incident and it was NEVER a sending off! Almost immediately after the sending off, the hapless Flinders gifted Scotty Wilson a second goal sending the Silkmen faithful into raptures, and we dared dream of a great away victory against all odds against one of our main relegation rivals!
  4. The Cameron incident was not the only incident of a pulsating yet enigmatic first half. Koby Arthur left the field of play early into the game after a nasty looking foul on him; there was a booking for a late challenge by Harry Smith (that led to ten minutes stoppage time at the end of the first half) and Harry later pulled up with what looked a hamstring injury that could see him sidelined for a number of weeks. Most bizarrely of all though was that poor Callum Evans was replaced by Keith Lowe only eighteen minutes after coming on as a substitute himself for Koby Arthur. This made no sense to many of my Silkmen compatriots and I because Callum (Evans) is universally seen by the Silkmen faithful as a far more talented  and combative midfielder than Callum (Maycock) whose regular presence in the team is a constant source of mystery / bewilderment. Replacing Maycock with Lowe would seem to have been much more sensible, bearing in mind the likely second half barrage from Cheltenham, and please don’t even get me stated on how Miles Welch-Hayes gets the left back nod over Fitz!!!
  5. The second half was exactly as the Silkmen faithful feared that it might be as we sipped our half-time brews. Cheltenham came at us all guns blazing, and we just couldn’t cope with them. They played quick passing football making very good use of their extra man, and deservedly got two early second half goals to draw level. The winning goal came much as we had anticipated / dreaded late in the game and it really was a thoroughly deserved victory for them.
  6. In contrast to Cheltenham, our football in the second half was as ugly as it was tactically baffling. We sat much too deep from the very minute of the second half which allowed them to attack us at will. Our defending for all the goals will surely give Sol nightmares for weeks to come, and in the absence of Cameron (please God let his red card be rescinded) it was shambolic at best. The football (ahem!) that was played by us in the second half consisted of hoofing the ball somewhere in the direction of the ever willing Scotty Wilson who was understandably knackered by about the 70th minute as he chased most of the aimless balls hit and hoped in his direction. As the game seemed to have slipped deservedly away from us, a decent piece of interplay led to Scotty been one on one with the jittery Flinders, but to our dismay he somehow seemed to drag his shot wide of the post and the game was effectively up! This was easily the worst half of football I have seen from a Silkmen side since Sol took over the managerial reins of my beloved Silkmen!
  7. There is one Silkmen player who stood out so brightly amidst a sea of mediocrity from us on Saturday. The person deserving of special praise from Saturday’s game  is Kieran O’Hara who was yours truly Man of the Match by about three country miles or maybe even more than that! The kid made some incredible saves and had no chance with any of the goals. But for him the scoreline would have been significantly worse than it subsequently ended up at!!
  8. In his interviews Sol frequently alludes to the fact that every game until the end of the season needs to be treated as a cup final. I love that sort of fighting talk but I am afraid to say that today Sol; the only team that played the game like a cup final was Cheltenham who as stated earlier, were worthy victors today.
  9. The injuries we have suffered this season have been nothing short of heart breaking with so many of our best players suffering lengthy lay offs in a season where we ideally wanted the exact opposite of this. The January transfer window is fast approaching it’s end, and I am sure that Sol doesn’t need me telling him that he needs to be at his very best in the next four days or so to secure signings (at least four I would suggest) that will give that strength and depth that we so desperately need to help to secure our Football League status. This is likely to mean moving on some of the current squad and I know that I really don’t need to tell my fellow Silkmen brethren who they are, because they already know as I do!
  10.  Finally, hats off for the fabulous support from the terraces once again, and despite a very disappointing second half display, I did not hear one boo or other indicator of negativity as the players came over to applaud the support on Saturday. I am Silkmen till I die!

Featured Image courtesy of Chelsie Wilson.

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