May 12, 2017

There in Black and White - Cheltenham (a)

There in Black and White



Match report by BILL THE QUILL at Whaddon Road



Cheltenham 1 Pools 0 (League 2) Saturday April 29th 2017


So Pools found themselves in the mire with one of Pools, Newport and Cheltenham going down to the Conference, and despite playing Cheltenham, Pools' survival was out of their hands even if they were to win at Whaddon Road.

This being my local match (only a 30-mile drive for me), I was always going to be there, and with it being the last away game, the now-traditional fancy dress was duly worn by a sizeable proportion of the 700-odd Poolie contingent.
Last time I'd been there I'd parked at the Racecourse Park and Ride and taken the bus service provided by the club from there to the ground, but that service was discontinued. A look at the CTFC website revealed this unhelpful advice: Unfortunately there is limited car parking available to the general public at Whaddon Road on match days. Street parking in the immediate vicinity is also restricted. So, needing the exercise I parked at the racecourse and walked the mile and a half to the ground.

Unknown Poolies ...they all looked
the same to me!
When I'd ordered my ticket at the same time as my Orient ticket a few weeks earlier, I'd got one for someone who subsequently couldn't make it, and thought I may have a bit of a struggle to find a home for it, but no sooner had I collected them from the ticket office, than I spotted Whisky, one of the two Evesham Poolies, queuing for his. Business was done and dusted there and then and so I was hoping it would be a good omen for the afternoon.
"the old failings of a non-league squad of players trying to compete in League Two were there again"

Then I made my way towards town to the Sudeley Arms, the Cheltenham pub that Poolies traditionally use, for a quick pint among loads of Poolies. In there and on the way both to the pub and back to the ground I encountered a fair few of the French mime artists, who were standing out in ones and twos, but inside the ground they almost formed a sea of black and white - very impressive.

The sizeable Poolie contingent included an impressive array of Frenchmen

With Dave Jones having been sacked the week before, having shown that he had completely lost the plot, the home-grown caretaker management team made four changes to the team with an unknown player on the bench.

When the teams lined up it was apparent that the average height of the Robins was quite a bit more than the average Pools player.

So the game got under way and was fairly even until their star player Harry Pell put in a cross from which Wright scored past former Cheltenham player Trevor Carson. Pools had a few moments but half time came with the 1-0 scoreline not looking unfair.

Pools possibly shaded the second half, coming to life once the ineffective Nathan Thomas was subbed, to be replaced by tall teenager Connor Simpson, who almost scored with his first touch, but it wasn't to be. Even the vociferous singing of Two Little Boys (which hadn't been heard much lately - but needs must!) failed to encourage an equaliser. Luckily we were all aware that Newport were losing at Carlisle so we looked to be surviving at least until the final day. And so it transpired, with Cheltenham now safe and Pools needing a win and for Newport not to win in their final games.

The fans were great, the players were, at least in the second half, showing more spirit than they had of late under Dave Jones, but the old failings of a non-league squad of players trying to compete in League Two were there again, and we now realise that the chances of Pools avoiding the drop don't look too good.

I was grateful for the half-hour drive home rather than the four-hour trek faced by most of the Poolies after such a disappointing result.

This was arguably where Pools' 96-year stay in the Football League effectively went up in smoke