Monday 20 October 2014

Turning point?

THOSE who are of a certain vintage will know all about Sir Alex Ferguson's 'Mark Robins moment'.
It came early in his Old Trafford reign, when there was a bit of pressure on and Robins scored an FA Cup goal at Nottingham Forest which folklore has since decreed more or less saved his job - and we all know what happened after that.
While Mark Yates' future was never going to hinge directly on Saturday's game, there was no doubt that the pressure was beginning to rise, so after 62 minutes when Kaid Mohamed's shot hit the post, the relief would have been palpable.
That chance, after a lovely passing move, came as Northampton were on top, having started the second half well with an equaliser and another chance which Trevor Carson saved well.
Had we gone 2-1 down, there is no telling what might have happened to our confidence levels, and so the win was even more of a relief.
Of course, having established the two-goal cushion, we had to make it difficult for ourselves, but after that it was pretty plain sailing - made even easier for us by Northampton chucking Ryan Cresswell up front and lumping balls into our box.
But Saturday might not only be a turning point for the manager - it could also be a watershed day for Terry Gornell.
He scored twice, could have had four, and fully deserved his man-of-the-match award - and I hope now it puts paid to talk of him wanting to leave. I think it has in the manager's eyes as if he scores goals he won't be left out.
Anyone who saw his post-match interview here will have seen (about 4' 30" in) that Terry doesn't think I am "in his corner."
Nice to know you read this nonsense Terry - and well done for shoving my words back at me. Long may it continue because if you are scoring goals, you keep your place, and the team is winning. That way, we are all happy.
He was deployed in a 3-4-3 formation - a brave move by Yates and one which showed just how important the result was. He sent out a system to go and win the game and deserved the rewards from that.
However, it did have its' drawbacks. I didn't feel that we were able to get Eusebio on the ball enough, as he was stuck out wide trying to get into the game.
When he did get the ball at his feet he only has one thing in his mind - running at people, causing havoc and trying to get a shot away, and you could see the problems he was causing by the free-kicks he won.
Terry revelled in it though, and so did Byron Harrison, who although he didn't score definitely put a shift in, something he has been accused by many of not doing every time he has gone out there.
He was dropping deep, winning the ball, shrugging off defenders, laying off great passes and also getting in the box to be a threat - everything we want from him, so let's hope this is a turning point game for him as well.
In midfield, Matt Richards and Jason Taylor were therefore deployed as a pair - and we have never had much success with a two-man central midfield, and here again the results were mixed.
The effort was there as it always is with these two, but they did struggle at times I felt. Taylor hasn't quite hit the heights yet he was achieving before his ban, and Richards' biggest effect on the game was his set-pieces.
The deliveries were mixed, but they were always a danger. All three of our goals came from them, and more often than not we won the first header from corners and free-kicks as Northampton struggled to cope with them.
That was part of the reason for Chris Wilder's post-match incandescence with his own team, apparent from the shouting and swearing coming from the dressing room, along with a penalty they felt they should have had in the first half, the non-award leaving him irate and in the stands for the second half.
The game followed a little of the pattern from Shrewsbury - a tight first half, the better chances falling to us, and us taking the lead - this time however just before, rather than just after the interval..
Then again like at the Greenhous, we had a poor spell - conceded, and could have fallen behind with Mo's golden chance (he was lively when he came on, incidentally).
As I said above, that was the turning point. It jolted us back to life, and those two quick goals for Gornell and John Marquis finished it off, but we could have done without that late alarm of Northampton's second goal.
It would have been nice to have kept the two-goal margin and get a comfortable win - something we haven't done very often.
In fact, we have won by a two-goal margin or more four times in 81 league games since January 2013 - at home to Rotherham and Morecambe and away at Fleetwood and Mansfield.
Saturday was also the first time we have scored three at home since that Morecambe game on October 22 last year.
That was Gornell's last league goal before Saturday's brace... which was the first by a Cheltenham player at home since Jermaine McGlashan against Portsmouth on September 7 last year.
Anyway, enough of the stats and now on to two very tough away games, Cambridge and Plymouth.
They will be made more difficult without our skipper Matt Taylor, whom we might not see now until December-time.
So enter Jack Deaman for his big chance, as I cannot see the manager changing the 3-4-3 tomorrow.
Even though we are away at a pretty free-scoring side, they also concede a few, and our front players seem to have their confidence back.
Deaman has not let us down so far and I have no worries about him going in there with Steve Elliott and Troy Brown for the next few games.
Beyond that, I can't see any changes tomorrow - he can't change the front three and I wouldn't see Richards and Jason Taylor being broken up.
So the only question is who the captain will be - and isn't it refreshing to have a few candidates for it, rather than one obvious choice?
Trevor Carson, after his impassioned interview at Shrewsbury, would be a good alternative, while Lee Vaughan wore the band in pre-season.
Steve Elliott is an obvious candidate, as is Matt Richards, and what about Jason Taylor, whose heart is very much on his sleeve?
Whoever gets the nod has big shoes to fill as Matt Taylor has been very effective and a good leader this season, and will be a big miss in the weeks ahead.
Saturday's game was hopefully a turning point, not just for the manager and for Terry, but for everyone, and we can enter these two away games with more belief and confidence.

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