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Down in Gloucestershire, there’s a team quietly slipping through the gears, going about their business almost unnoticed moving up the table. Cheltenham Town, after a difficult start to the season, are beginning to trouble the scorers at the right end of the table.
Unbeaten in their last 5 league games, Gary Johnson’s men have found some form just when it looked as it was going to be another season of struggle.
After winning the National League in 2015-16, Town failed to make any impression on League Two last season and narrowly avoided an instant return to non-league with a single game to spare.
Johnson missed the back end of the season after heart surgery, but certainly planned much better during the close season, releasing a big majority of the championship side who were unable to make the step up, something that was clearly needed to avoid a repeat this time around.
There appears to be a gem unearthed in Mohamed Eisa, picked up from Bostik League South side Greenwich Borough. 8 goals is already a healthy return on their investment, but someone hungry for his Football League chance is making a big difference for the Robins.
3 loan additions from Johnson’s former club Bristol City will also provide strength while Jonathan Flatt on loan from Wolves is good competition for Scott Flinders, experience of League Two football is more evident throughout the squad this season from the likes of Kyle Storer, Kevin Dawson and Aaron Downes.
The weekend win over promotion hopefuls Swindon Town further enhanced the feeling that Cheltenham are better equipped this year to avoid the mess at the bottom, although unless Port Vale, Chesterfield and Forest Green find out how to win again, no one will be dragged into that fight!
Johnson will feel he has the measure of the division this year, and maybe there was a bit of blind faith in that championship winning squad and no reinforcements to compliment what was a talented team, lessons appear to have been learnt.
Gone are the days where sides would come up from the National League, blow away everything in front of them and at the very least make the play-offs.
That’s very much in evidence this season, borne out by the struggles Forest Green have had to get going, and only in the past few weeks have Lincoln City got to grips with what is needed in this division.
Must sustain their good run of form
Town face teams around them over the next few games, after a trip to basement side Port Vale and could quite easily find themselves in the play-off zone by the end of the month, putting the team into a position to kick on into the winter months and beyond.
While Cheltenham might not the best supported or biggest club financially in this league, they’re good enough to at least hold their own and they have had a spell in League One, promotion is not beyond them but they must sustain this current good run of form to be in with a chance.
Written by Trevor Knell
Follow Trevor on Twitter @trevk37
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