Sunday, 4 December 2011

Going to get our Spurs

Wow.
At around 2.45 this afternoon, Li Tie wrote himself into Cheltenham Town folklore for ever.
All he did was stick his hand into a large bowl, and pull out ball number 52 at just the right time.
Before we got pulled out, Middlesbrough, Doncaster and Crawley came out and I was yelling at the (now) greatest man ever to come out of China not to pull out ball 52.
Only when Manchester City came out did I ask for number 52, before that great moment when we came out alongside Tottenham Hotspur.
I was watching the draw with my eight year old daughter, and we leapt around the lounge (before I had to expalin to her just how big a team Tottenham are)...
Given our luck in draws, I expected Oldham or Southend away, or an uninspiring Championship side like Doncaster or a delightful trip to Hull.
But no, for once the balls were with us and we are going to White Hart Lane on the weekend of January 7.
Yes, White Hart Lane. Unbelievable.
I am delighted for the chairman, manager and players, who have all been superb this season and deserve to showcase the club on this stage.
It is fitting that it will be the second game of our 125th anniversary year.
I am delighted for the fans who have followed the side around the country - especially the hardcore, the 80 who were at the JPT game at Wycombe for instance, those who went to Accrington on a Friday night, those who have put up with all manner of crap in recent seasons.
Among them are some Spurs fans - James Young, my sometimes partner in crime on the Robins Player commentaries, Jon Mundy, Simon and Tom Read.
My best man Steve Slatter and my old colleague at the Echo and Bristol Evening Post, Gary Walker were regulars in the past, and will also be in a no-lose situation.
White Hart Lane holds (according to Wikipedia) 36,230. For the FA Cup, clubs have to give 15 per cent of the capacity to visiting fans, so by my reckoning that comes to 5,434 tickets for us. Surely that will be plenty - and it could be the biggest crowd ever to watch a Cheltenham Town match.
Disappointingly, I have already heard moans that the 'part-timers' will get tickets and the loyal hardcore will miss out.
I cannot see why this would be the case, and it is down to the club to make sure this is not the case - and anyway, if these non-regulars do go, they might enjoy it and come regularly - and it is all money for the club.
Season ticket holders must have priority along with Trust members (of which I am one...), VPs  and club membership scheme subscribers.
I would also include Travel Club members in here as that should catch the majority of the regular fans although the moans have already started, which is disappointing but sadly predictable.
It winds me up when we get a draw like this and all people do is complain that 'regular' fans won't get a ticket. If you are a regular, surely you will fall into one of the above categories, so why should you not get a ticket?
I do hope however that the club then puts in some sort of ticket stub priority - maybe 5 home games, or the last 3 aways - or sells tickets for Spurs with the proviso also of buying for the Boxing Day game with Shrewsbury and Dec 30's meeting with Rotherham to help fill the ground for these two vital League games.
I would hope the club would be pro-active in this way to get the ground rocking for the next three home games and cash in on that feel-good factor we have going at the moment.
I don't suspect Mr Redknapp will play all of his stars, but it would be great to see Sido v Gareth Bale, and the Pack, Penn, Summerfield trio against Modric, Parker and van der Vaart, wouldn't it...
Anyway, now I suppose I had better talk about how we got into that glass bowl earlier today.
As we look forward to visiting one of England's finest stadiums, we booked that trip at one of the worst, and in doing so made it a record 8 away wins in a row.
Grudgingly, I have to admit that Luton played quite well, but our resilience shone through in the end and I didn't think we were in much danger once we went 3-2 up.
Darryl Duffy got us off to a great start with a one-touch finish after Scott Brown's long goal-kick.
The equaliser we conceded was poor with Robbie Willmott getting past Sido Jombati and Alan Bennett too easily, but a bit of luck with Marlon Pack's deflected effort off Dan Gleeson putting us back in front.
To be honest, we were a bit fortunate to be in front as Luton (he says through very gritted teeth...) gave us a harder test than many of the sides have recently on the road.
They got level again, and I must admit I was worried for a while. The side we had last season would have caved in, and from 2-2 we would have lost that game.
But this team is made of sterner stuff and Duffy and Russ Penn fashioned a great goal for Luke Summerfield and bar Alex Lawless hitting the post for Luton, that was that.
Duffy got sent off for two yellow cards in as many minutes, and having seen the highlights I can't have any complaints about either caution.
The gloss was applied by Penn's first goal for us, brilliantly taken, and it was a very satisfying victory for the club, and it has now got its just rewards. We will be ball number 8 in the fourth round draw.
I am sure this won't happen within the squad, but we must not take our eye off the ball in the League, as we have Southend, Barnet, Shrewsbury, Rotherham and Port Vale to play, all tough games, before we head for Spurs. Cliche yes, boring maybe, but the league still has to come first.

Player by player
Scott Brown - No chance with the goals and set up the first goal for Darryl Duffy. Only had one real save to make, and it was a good one from Adam Watkins.
Sido Jombati - Another good game apart from the Luton first goal when he let Willmott past him far too easily.
Josh Low - Was worried when I saw him on the teamsheet at left back. Had a few shaky moments at times when he tried to over play in our box, but thought he did okay overall.
Alan Bennett - Even bigger role than usual without Steve Elliott alongside him, but won most of his headers although along with Sido he let Willmott go for their first goal.
Keith Lowe - Drafted in at centre half and didn't think he let us down at all despite having only played there in the JPT this season.
Russ Penn - Great performance capped with a well-taken goal. Also set up Luke's goal with a  good run and could have scored another.
Luke Summerfield - Thumping finish for his goal and another industrious performance which included a booking.
Marlon Pack - Deflected shot for his goal but overall a patchy performance I felt. Some great touches and passes, but got caught in possession a few times.
Kaid Mohamed - Thought he had a poor game, losing possession a few times through casual passes and poor decision making, and was lacking defensively.
Jimmy Spencer - Usual hard-working performance down the right and seems to work well with Sido on that flank.
Darryl Duffy - Took his goal superbly and set up Luke's well. Two yellow cards in two minutes, and don;t see he can argue with either. Will miss Southend next weekend.

Substitutes
Junior Smikle (for Mohamed, 85) - Thought he did well when he came on, giving us a good outlet and setting up Penn's goal.
Jeff Goulding (for Spencer 90) - Came on right at the end.