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In opposition this season: Cheltenham Town

19 July 2014

Exeter City’s final opponents at St James Park in 2014 will be Cheltenham Town.  Oliver Roderick takes a look at the Robins, another of the Grecians’ opponents this term.

Last season
2013/14 was a season of frustration for the Robins, who had gone into it on the back of two successive play-off finishes.

Consistency was lacking from Town’s performances, with an eight-game undefeated run from November to December the pick of very few runs of form.  Just to prove their season was inconsistent, they then went on a seven-game winless run.  The unpredictability of their results continued from there, the season ending with the Robins finishing in 17th.

The summer so far
Sido Jombati, Sam Deering, Ed Williams, Jamie Cureton and Ashley Vincent were all let go in Cheltenham’s early-summer clear-out.  Defender Steve Elliott signed a one-year deal to become a player-coach, while Kidderminster full-back Lee Vaughan signed for two years.

Jermaine McGlashan and Scott Brown turned down offers of new deals, with goalkeeper Brown heading to Aberdeen and McGlashan now at Gillingham.  In McGlashan’s place, former Shrewsbury player Asa Hall was snapped up, while fellow midfielder Joe Hanks extended his own deal.

Mark Yates has signed three players since: left-back Paul Black and winger Andy Haworth have signed one-year deals, and Trevor Carson, the goalkeeper, joined from Bury having been on loan at Portsmouth last season.

The manager

Mark Yates has been Cheltenham Town manager since 2009 and has twice led the Robins to the League 2 play-offs since.

As a player he won the Conference title with Cheltenham in 1999, and also the Division Three play-offs three years later.  He was most known for that spell with Cheltenham and the two periods at Kidderminster Harriers which sandwiched it, making over a combined 500 appearances for the two clubs.

His first steps in management were as first team coach at Burnley under Steve Cotterill, but he soon got the top job at former club Kidderminster, where his form caught the eye of the Robins.

Ones to watch

Striker Byron Harrison had a prolific 2013/14, scoring 15 goals in all competitions, with 13 of those in League 2, including one in the 1-1 draw at St James Park.  That was Harrison’s best output since making the step up to the Football League with Stevenage in 2011.

35-year-old captain Steve Elliott is not a player who lets opponents past him easily, with his bulky frame an intimidating sight to opposition attackers. He was promoted from this division with previous club Bristol Rovers via the play-offs in 2007.

The Grecians have a miserly record against the Robins.  Not once have Exeter City tasted victory over Cheltenham Town since they first met in 1999 – in fact, the 1-1 draw at St James Park last season brought Cheltenham’s perfect record against City to an end.  Exeter have only scored four times in the ten fixtures between the sides.
Exeter City wins: 0
Cheltenham Town wins: 9
Draws: 1

Club links

Jamie Cureton moved to Cheltenham Town on the conclusion of his third Exeter City spell in 2013.  He scored 11 times in 35 appearances for the Whaddon Road club before his release this summer. Former Exeter City midfielder David Noble was on loan at Cheltenham from Rotherham in 2013.

Ted Calland was a key figure in the Exeter City team between 1957 and 1960, and finished his career with the Robins, who were then a Southern League side.

Reading’s Jake Taylor has been on loan to both clubs, as have his former teammate Lawson D’Ath, Frankie Artus and Stuart Fleetwood.  Ex-City right-back Kevin Amankwaah went on loan to Cheltenham early in his career, while Jake Thomson was loaned to the Robins from the Grecians in 2011.

Key clash
Exeter City 1-1 Cheltenham Town, St James Park, Saturday 12th April 2014

Exeter City notched up another important point towards League 2 survival with a 1-1 draw against Cheltenham Town at St James Park.

It also represented the first point the Grecians had ever registered against the Robins at the tenth time of asking.

Jordan Moore-Taylor’s first professional goal came in the 12th minute as he arrived on the end of Craig Woodman’s deep delivery, but the visitors were back all-square as Byron Harrison netted his 15th goal of a prolific season with 26 minutes played.

There were chances at either end after the break, but neither team could break the parity and it was a superb save from stopper Christy Pym deep into added time that kept a point for Exeter.

Cheltenham are 20/1 to win League 2 this season with Sky Bet.  The odds of them winning promotion are 11/2, while relegation stacks at 10/1.

On opening day, the Robins are at Bury.  It’s 13/5 for a Cheltenham win, 19/20 for Bury and 9/4 on the draw.

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