Next Game - Cheltenham Town (away)

Last updated : 25 January 2002 By Tony Scholes

Mark Yates
In the Worthington Cup we were beaten by Rushden and Diamonds and in the FA Cup we beat Canvey Island to reach this 4th Round stage and an away tie against 3rd Division promotion chasers Cheltenham Town.

This will be the Clarets first ever visit to Whaddon Road and that ensured a desperate rush for tickets as many are going just to see a game at the new ground. One supporter, armed with four borrowed away ticket stubs, was in the queue when they went on sale the first day. It is to be his first away game since the start of last season, I wonder why he was at the Reebok?

Cheltenham are one of the league's newest clubs, in fact only Kidderminster Harriers and Rushden & Diamonds have been league clubs for a shorter time. They won a place in the 3rd Division at the expense of Scarborough in 1999 winning the Nationwide Conference and finishing four points clear of second placed Kettering Town. They had only been back in the Conference for two seasons and had finished second to Halifax Town in the previous season.

Their first season in Division Three saw them miss out on the play offs by one place and two points although an eighth place finish proved to be a good first season for them. They were close again last season but finished one place lower in ninth place and with 68 points had two points less than the previous season.

Neil Grayson
This season again they are currently just outside the play off positions and are ninth with 44 points from 28 games. It is tight though and they have the same number of points as Scunthorpe in sixth place and only two less than Shrewsbury who currently hold the top play off position of fourth.

Although they have been beaten only once, a 3-2 scoreline against Mansfield in August, it is their home form that has been disappointing. They can add only six wins to that one defeat at Whaddon Road but on eight occasions they have picked up just the one point.

The home wins have come against Carlisle 2-0, Lincoln and Halifax 2-1, Exeter 3-1, Macclesfield 4-1 and Shrewsbury 1-0. The victory over Shrewsbury on Boxing Day was their last home win and three draws have followed.

Away from home they have won and lost five games, drawing the other three. The away wins have been at Hartlepool, Southend and Torquay 1-0, York 3-1 and Leyton Orient 2-0.

Jamie Victory
To date they have scored 40 league goals and exactly half of them have been scored by the two strikers Julian Alsop with 13 and Tony Naylor with 7. Tony Naylor needs no introduction. He is fast approaching his 35th birthday and has now played over 400 league games for Crewe, Port Vale and Cheltenham and has scored 124 goals in those games. After seven years at Port Vale he joined Cheltenham last summer on a free transfer and didn't make the best of starts, failing to score in his first nine games. We must be cautious though he has scored in every round of the cup so far.

The 28 year old Julian Alsop stands at 6ft 4ins and that gives a clue as to the type of player he is and the style of football we are likely to see from Cheltenham. They are a very physical side who like to get the ball up early to Alsop and he wins most of the balls in the air. He will provide a threat to the Clarets defence simply because of his height but he is still three inches short of Peter Crouch who we dealt with.

We've taken a look at Cheltenham's league form but what about the FA Cup? They are playing in the 4th Round for the first time in their history and they are not a club with a great tradition from their non league days. To this day they have only ever beaten three league clubs in the competition.

Tony Naylor
This season they started their cup campaign with an away tie against Kettering Town. They fell behind after just four minutes but by half time goals from Naylor and Alsop, the latter right on half time, gave them a 2-1 lead. The second half proved to be a stroll though as further goals from each of the strikers and then two in the last three minutes from Lee Howells and Martin Devaney gave them a 6-1 victory in front of a crowd of 2,942.

It was away again in Round 2, this time against Hinckley. This time it was Cheltenham who went in front after five minutes and the scorer was Tony Naylor. Julian Alsop added a second four minutes into the second half and they ran out comfortable 2-0 winners.

Round 3 saw them win a home tie against Second Division Oldham Athletic who included former Claret David Eyres. Again Tony Naylor scored the opening goal of the game, this time after 25 minutes, but Eyresy pulled Oldham back into it just a couple of minutes before half time. The goal that won Cheltenham a tie against the Clarets was scored by, no surprise here, Tony Naylor again for his fifth FA Cup goal of the season. It came on the hour and when Oldham's Darren Sheridan was sent off Cheltenham won through comfortably with a 2-1 scoreline.

Mike Duff
This takes us to Sunday and the first ever meeting between the clubs. No look back at previous games but at least we can look at a couple of players who have played for both clubs, in fact both should be in the Cheltenham squad on Sunday.

Neil Howarth made his debut for the Clarets in the last game of the 1989/90 season at Colchester coming on as a substitute for Nigel Smith. Colchester had already been relegated to the Conference and the Clarets won 2-1 courtesy of an own goal and a Winston White penalty. Andy Marriott was in goal for Colchester. It was Neil's only first team appearance although he stayed at the club for another three years.

He played non league football for Macclesfield Town and was in the side that won promotion to the Football League and in the 1998/99 season played in their 2-1 victory against the Clarets on a flooded Moss Rose. Later that season he dropped back into the Conference with Cheltenham and helped them into the Football League.

He has recently been out of the side injured and hasn't played a first team game since November. We can though expect to see him on the bench.

In the Cheltenham side will be Mark Yates who signed for Burnley from Birmingham for £40,000 in August 1991. He became Frank Casper's last ever signing for Burnley and scored on his debut, a 4-1 win against Doncaster Rovers and a goalkeeper called Paul Crichton.

Russell Milton
He never really established himself at the Turf in a two year stay and started just nine league games although he did pick up a Fourth Division Championship Medal in the last ever season of that division. Whilst at Burnley he had spells on loan at Conference club Kidderminster and also at Lincoln.

He moved to Doncaster in the summer of 1993 but was released after a year and returned to Kidderminster permanently. He joined Cheltenham in January 1999, just a month before Neil Howarth and again was a member of the promotion team. He is now captain and this week has spoken about his days at Turf Moor and how much he enjoyed it.

The team he leads out is expected to be similar to the team that drew 0-0 with Darlington at Whaddon Road on Wednesday evening and that was: Steve Book, Tony Griffin, Mike Duff, Chris Banks, Jamie Victory, Lee Williams (Neil Grayson 75), Mark Yates, Lee Howells, Russell Milton, Julian Alsop, Tony Naylor (Martin Devaney 75). Subs not used: John Brough, Shane Higgs, Neil Howarth.

Kick off is at 1:00 p.m. at Whaddon Road on Sunday to decide which club will have ball number 11 in the 5th round draw at 9:00 p.m.