Cheltenham Town v Stevenage [Preview]

By Pete H

It’s time for Boro’ to come out of isolation and show us what they’ve learned over the past 10 days. We hope it’s how to win. It’s been a year of way too many downs and not nearly enough ups. So, we’re feeling starved of a win. Our record for 2020 to date shows you just how dire it really is. But the lads and lasses over in Hollywood and other places would have us think it’s a time of Christmas miracles. After all, you’ve seen Miracle on 34th Street – right?

The Details: Cheltenham Town v Stevenage

Where’s the game?

In old money, it’s Whaddon Road to you and us. But the commercial claws are digging in and making us call it the Jonny-Rocks Stadium. Which is weird because we once knew a lad called Ronnie Jocks. Small world.

Can I watch Cheltenham Town v Stevenage?

Even under Tier 2 or Tier 3 restrictions, it’s not like Boro’ fans had the choice of travelling to the West Country to watch this one. Under the fresh hell that is Tier 4, however, there’s not much you can do full stop. To pass the time this Boxing Day, one option is to sink back in that favourite sofa or armchair of yours with an iFollow Match Pass and catch all the action live.

We expect the commentary to have a home bias and the camera work to be shoddy. But crack open a few festive ales or mulled wines and the experience will be made better…

How is Boro’s form looking at the moment?

By the time we step out onto the pitch this Boxing Day, we’ll be unbeaten for two weeks. Of course, that formidable record is more down to not being able to play. It’ll be a month and three games since our last win, however. And it’s almost a year now since we last won away from home. We passed up the chance to end that miserable run by letting Morecambe back in for an equaliser on 14 November.

Yet, the ridiculous nature of our current form is that our defence is the fifth best in League Two. It’s all being let down in attack, as we’ve said before. Or a chronic lack of creativity in the middle. Either way, someone at Boro’ needs to find a way of bloody scoring goals…

… and how are the Robins doing right now?

Up until the start of the month, the Robins were flying. The 5-3 win at home to Exeter City on 5 December made it five victories out of six. That’s since been followed up with the 0-0 draw at Salford City, however, and two straight defeats. It means they’ve slipped out of the automatic promotion spaces as we speak. But sitting fourth in the table is nothing to laugh at. Not least when you’re struggling to stay out of twenty-fourth.

Looking at the bigger picture, shows how the Robins are currently having much joy on the road. With 16 points from nine away days, that’s ever-so-slighty better if you compare it to their 17 points from 10 matches at home. Like us, they’ve only conceded 20 this season. Again, it’s crazy to think – isn’t it? Two-thirds of the 29 goals they’ve netted have come in the first half, while more than a third at the other end come late on.

Our story with Cheltenham Town so far

If you ask us, it’s possible to carve up the story of us and the Robins into two distinct eras. First, we have the non-league era. It yielded seven meetings at a time when they were on their fast-track journey up from the Southern League to the Football League. Five of them came in the 1998-9 campaign! The bottom line, however, is that we won none of them.

In fact, you need to skip to that second era – and our time together in the Football League. Our 4-0 win in February 2011 was our first triumph in nine attempts. And it totally turned the tables on the Robins. We won seven of the next eight meetings between us; a goalless draw at theirs in September 2016 the only time we didn’t manage to come out on top.

Of course, that all went to pot last term. But even as the Robins ended a nine-year wait to beat us, we did score twice. In the same game! That’s rare enough for us these days…

Last Time Out: Cheltenham Town 4-2 Stevenage, 07 September 2019

Who’s the referee in charge?

We didn’t find out in time. It doesn’t make a difference anyway.

Cheltenham Town v Stevenage: Our verdict?

It’s been a while since we had a Boxing Day result to celebrate. And that wait is going to go on another year longer. We’re unable to think of anything that’d suggest we can throw the form book out the window and pull three points out of the bag. We’ve haven’t been able to train for a week-and-a-half either! Mind you, maybe that’s the answer…

Home win. 3-0.