The Robins come to The New Lawn after victory against Rovers in the reverse fixture at the end of October 2020. Goals from Boyle and Williams in the 11th and 57th minutes were reduced by a 73rd minute penalty from substitute Aaron Collins, but Cheltenham held on for a 2-1 win. Michael Duff’s side were 4th favourites for promotion at the start of the season and they have lived up to expectations, currently lying in 4th place in the table, 1 point behind Rovers. They have also enjoyed FA Cup success with wins in the 1st round against South Shields and against Crewe in the 2nd round. They recently beat Mansfield 2-1 at home in the 3rd round and earned themselves a home tie against Manchester City in the 4th at which they acquitted themselves well, going down 3-1 after leading until the last 10 minutes of the game.
Cheltenham’s goals this season have mainly come from Liam Sercombe, Andy Williams and Alfie May, but Finn Azaz, Ben Tozer and William Boyle have also chipped in. Cheltenham have a long list of goal scorers this season – many of their goals come from their midfielders. Cheltenham have scored 67% of their goals in the first half of games. But their form in the league over the last 10 games has dipped a little – averaging less than 1.25 points per game and with 1 win, 4 draws and 2 losses in their last 7 league outings. However, the win was in their most recent outing – a 2-0 home victory against Oldham – so maybe the Robins’ fortunes are on the up.
One formidable weapon in the Cheltenham armoury this season has been the long throws of Ben Tozer, the Robins’ number 4. Tozer is a 6ft 3 inch defender who is the team’s captain and who was also named in the League 2 team of the year in 2019/20. Rovers will know all about Tozer’s abilities, having conceded a goal by Will Boyle from a Tozer throw-in when the teams faced each other in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
Former FGR striker, Reuben Reid, scored twice for the Robins during this campaign but Reuben has since moved to join National League Yeovil Town on 5th Jan 2021.
The Robins made their first appearance in the EFL in 1999 under the stewardship of Steve Cotterill. After finishing 9th in League 2 in their first season, they then won another promotion via the pay-offs and played one season in League 1 in the 2001/2002 campaign. By this time Cotterill had moved to Stoke City (Cotterill is now the Shrewsbury manager and is still in hospital with Covid) and they were relegated in that same season. The club won another promotion to League 1 via the play-offs in 2006. Although they stayed in this league for 3 seasons, they always struggled and, by 2015, they had been relegated twice, and were back in the National League. It was a short stay – they won the National League in their first season back, finishing 12 points clear of FGR in second place. The first few seasons back in League 2 saw Cheltenham finishing in the lower reaches of the division. Michael Duff was appointed manager in September 2018 and their fortunes started to improve. By 2019/20 they were in 4th place when the season was abandoned but, having qualified for the play-offs, they lost to Northampton Town 3-2 on aggregate in the play-offs (after winning the away leg 2-0, they lost 3-0 at home).
In spite of a lacklustre season in 2017/18, they secured a healthy transfer fee (rumoured to be £1.5m) when they sold forward Mo Eisa to Bristol City. Eisa had come to Cheltenham on a free transfer from Greenwich Borough and proved to be their biggest success of that season. He is the club’s record transfer received.
Cheltenham have been known as The Robins since they changed to their red and white strip in the 1930’s. They share the nickname with local rivals Bristol City and Swindon Town. They have played at Whaddon Road since 1932. Cheltenham fans view their main rivals as Forest Green, Bristol City, Bristol Rovers and Swindon. Old rivalries with Hereford and Gloucester have faded over time.