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🔎 The Opposition: Cheltenham Town

An in-depth look at Saturday's opponents

15 November 2019

Exeter City will be looking to get back to winning ways, and move back up EFL Sky Bet League Two on Saturday in a south-west clash with Cheltenham Town.

The Robins have been in fine form so far this season, and sit just a place and a point below the Grecians in sixth, having played two less matches...

Here is everything you need to know about Saturday’s opponents:

•    Founded: 1887
•    Nickname: The Robins
•    Honours: Conference champions (1998/99 & 2015/16)

Former teacher Albert White is accredited with the inception of Cheltenham Town, having founded the football club in 1887, however the first three decades were simply spent in local football.

The 1930s were pivotal years for the club though, as they earned the nickname the Robins, after changing from ruby shirts to red and white ones. More significantly though, was the move to Whaddon Road in 1932, as Cheltenham subsequently turned professional.

From 1935, Cheltenham then spent the following 50 years in the Southern League. In 1958 they won their first ever trophy, beating Gravesend & Northfleet 4-1 in the Southern League Cup.

Cheltenham had finished runners-up in the Southern League just two years prior and it was not until 1985 that the Robins had finally seized the moment and won the Southern League. Cheltenham had reached the top flight of non-league football for the first time ever and spent the next seven years there, before relegation in 1992.

The Gloucestershire side gained promotion back to the Conference in 1997 and enjoyed near instant success, as they finished second and then won the Conference title in 1999. By the turn of the century, Cheltenham had reached the Football League for their very first time.

The next two decades have seen the club gain promotion via the Division Three/League Two play-offs in 2002 and 2006, as well as add another Conference title as recently as 2016. The Robins are certainly creating their own history as a fully-fledged Football League side.

Last Match

Cheltenham were in Leasing.com Trophy action on Tuesday night in a remarkable match against Newport County at the Jonny Rocks Stadium which finished in a 4-7 defeat for the Robins.

Their last league match was a derby with rivals Forest Green Rovers on Saturday, November 2 which ended in a 2-1 defeat thanks to goals from Jack Aitchison and Elliott Frear. Luke Varney pulled a goal back midway through the second half but it just wasn't enough.

The Manager

Michael Duff

A former Cheltenham stalwart with over 300 appearances to his name, Michael Duff’s former employers during his playing days now represent his first ever foray into management, having taken up the reins in September 2018

Duff’s first game in charge saw him oversee a 0-0 stalemate at home to Crewe Alexandra.




Starting out his professional career, Duff spent eight years at Cheltenham from 1996-2004, before making the £30k switch to Burnley, spending 12 years at the club with a further 342 appearances amassed.

The uncompromising Northern Irishman cemented himself as one of the most dominant centre backs in the Football League while at Burnley and that status also led to 24 caps for his country.

Ever the ‘two-club man’, Duff managed the Burnley academy upon retirement in 2016, before a return to his other beloved club this season.

Season so far

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One to watch

Luke Varney

Evergreen striker Luke Varney joined the Robins in September 2018 after being released by Burton Albion. Luke has played at all professional levels in England, including a season in the Premier League with Blackpool in 2010 where he scored five times.

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The 37-year-old striker was in fine form in his first season, notching 14 goals in the league and has continued that run this season scoring six already.

Recent meetings

Exeter City 1 Cheltenham Town 0 (Leasing.com Trophy - September 3, 2019)

The Grecians and the Robins last met in the Leasing.com Trophy as Nicky Ajose's early strike was enough for City to pick up a 1-0 win.

Cheltenham Town 1 Exeter City 1 (Sky Bet League Two - April 6, 2019)

Exeter City picked up a hard-earned point in controversial circumstances against Cheltenham Town.

The Grecians had looked in control of the match early in the second half, having been given a lead at the break through Dean Moxey’s pinpoint strike. However, Cheltenham were then awarded a dubious penalty for a collision between City keeper Christy Pym and striker Luke Varney to level the scores.

And then to make matters worse Pym, having been booked for giving away the penalty, was then shown a second yellow card deep into injury time for pushing Billy Waters as he attempted to stop the keeper from taking a goal kick quickly.

Exeter City 3 Cheltenham Town 1 (Sky Bet League Two – September 22, 2018)

The Grecians ran out winners in the last meeting, courtesy of a rousing second half performance, that saw them run out eventual 3-1 winners.

Ryan Broom had threatened to upset the odds after sending the visitors into a 1-0 lead at the interval, but Pierce Sweeney’s fierce long-range strike restored parity, before Jayden Stockley and Jonathan Forte settled the contest with goals in the final 10 minutes.

Head to head

  • Exeter City wins: 8
  • Draws: 2
  • Cheltenham Town wins: 9

Ticket news

Tickets are on sale at advance prices until 5pm in person and midnight online, on Friday, November 15 so you can save time and money, and pick your seat in advance. Click here to book online.

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