harriers-online match preview
17th December 2004 
Cheltenham Town
At Whaddon Rd
18/12/04 3:00pm
A couple of weeks ago, before Stuart Watkiss came here as our new messiah, we would have been dreading this meeting with the local yokels.  Now we can't wait and we're raring to get stuck into them.

With our new strike force of Gary Birch and Chris Beardsley we feel that we are more than capable of coming away from Waddle Rd with at least a point.  It's not just the new strikers, we also have a tougher defence with the addition of Simon Weaver.  He's a doubt for the game following his head injury against Rochdale last week but the little spell he did play in he looked good.

The new manager is also trying to beef up the defence a bit more and is thought to be interested in Billy Jones from Leyton Orient.  This 6ft defender is out of favour in East London but he has just turned down a chance to come here after he, or his agent, failed to agree terms.  Give him a day or two when it's a choice between us or Canvey Island.

Stuart has got the team playing with passion now and, more importantly, playing as a team.  Simon Russell has also benefited from the new approach and is playing so well he'll be getting scouted at this rate and he'll be worth some money one day.  Means we haven't just got to rely on John Danby for that then!

Apart from Simon Weaver we have no other injury worries but Danby will still be missing after he failed a fitness test on his now healed broken toe.  As forecast on this site in last weeks Rochdale preview Ryan Clarke has seen his loan spell extended for a further month.

We are now down to just the two long term injuries in Hazell and Christie.  Stuart got rid of Micky Mellon last week after he failed to come back from injury quickly enough but I think he's giving Reuben Hazell the benefit of the doubt because he's a better long term prospect.  Christie is being given longer because he was first taken to Mansfield by Watkiss and Stuart knows what he is capable of.

We meet up with Cheltenham just as they're going through a bad patch.  Can't seem to score goals and most of their games end in goalless draws.
Their manager, John Ward, seems to be having trouble attracting new faces to the club and they've never really replaced Bob Taylor.

John Joseph Melligan Steve Guinan came in from Hereford as his replacement during the close season but has only found the net four times this season.  Ian Fosters scored more than he has.

They do have one good player and we all know who that is.  JJ has been blowing hot and cold at Cheltenham since he joined them.  Sometimes he has a great game and in others he may as well not be there.  We'll be hoping that he feels that he doesn't have anything to prove against us and that he'll have an off day on Saturday.

Cheltenham have a few injuries, but nothing life threatening.  John Brough will be out but might be back by Christmas now that his calf injury is almost healed.  Chris Murphey has a thigh strain and Michael Taylor has had the plaster removed from his damaged ankle.

None of those will play against us.

So how will the game pan out for us?  I think that with this renewed confidence in the camp and the influx of new faces that we are more than well equipped to come back with all three points.

Come five o'clock on Saturday night the M5 North will be a joyous place to be.


Harriers from:
Clarke, Danby, Lewis, Burton, Beswetherick, Sall, Weaver, Bennett, Hatswell, McHale, Beardsley, Jenkins, Keates, Matias, Gleeson, Birch, Foster, Russell.

Cheltenham from:
Higgs, Brown, Wilson, Victory, Duff, Brough, Devaney, Finnigan, Guinan, Spencer, McCann, Bird, Gill, Fyfe, Odejayi, Vincent, Gallinagh, Melligan, Caines, Ward, Connolly.
Previous games against Cheltenham
Harriers score first
2003 - 04
0 - 0
1 - 2
2002 - 03
2001 - 02
0 - 0
1 - 2
2000 - 01
1 - 1
3 - 1

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