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New To League Two: Cheltenham Town

25 May 2016

We continue our profiles of the teams joining us in League Two next term and Cheltenham Town are next under the spotlight.

Who’s in charge?
Gary Johnson arrived at Whaddon Road with seven games left to play in 2014/15 and with the club staring relegation from League Two square in the face.

Although he was unable to reverse the damage already done, The Robins wisely chose to stick by the wily and experienced boss who has history of bringing teams out of non-league.

Johnson was at the helm when Yeovil Town emerged in to the Football League and he later returned for a second stint during which he remarkably guided the club in to the Championship.

In between times, Johnson had a spell in charge at Bristol City and he came close to taking them in to the Premier League when they were beaten by Hull City in the 2008 Play-Off Final.

The 60-year-old has a wealth of management knowledge having been in the hotseat at other league clubs, such at Northampton Town and Peterborough United, while he also took charge of the Latvian national team for a spell between 1999 and 2001.

Where do they play?
Whaddon Road – renamed The World Of Smile Stadium in a three-year sponsorship deal last summer – has been home to Cheltenham Town since 1932.

In 2010, non-league outfit Gloucester City began ground-sharing with Cheltenham at Whaddon Road, which has a capacity of just over 7,000.

It hasn’t been a particularly lucky ground for Pools over the years – indeed, we’ve won just once there in eight attempts and that was back in the 2000/01 campaign.

How did they get here?
After relegation from League Two during a torrid 2014/15, Cheltenham Town quickly recovered their composure in the National League and emerged early on as contenders for the title.

Gary Johnson was allowed to completely overhaul his squad last summer and he drafted in a mix of youth and experience, with many having the crucial element of having tasted that level before.

No fewer than 18 new players arrived at Whaddon Road, amidst a recruitment drive built largely upon a £200,000 windfall left to the Robins Trust by long-standing Cheltenham fan Bryan Jacob following his death in 2013.

The drive that Johnson felt was missing during their doomed attempt to stay in the league upon his arrival, was there in abundance in his new-look squad and they went on to net 87 goals and amass 101 points on their way to the title.

When did we last meet?
Although the two clubs didn’t share a division last season they did get drawn together in the First Round of the FA Cup when Pools recorded a somewhat fortuitous 1-0 win at Victoria Park last November.

The Robins gave as good as they got on the day and created plenty of chances but it was Kudus Oyenuga’s first goal for Pools which did the damage and sent Ronnie Moore’s men in to Round Two.

When do we play them?
The fixtures for the new League Two campaign will be released on the morning of Wednesday 22nd June.

Higgy’s View
"They stuck by Gary Johnson at Cheltenham last year and they got their rewards for that. He knows the National League and League Two very well which was key in bringing them back at the first attempt. 

"You’ve seen the momentum that Bristol Rovers have built up after coming back and there’s no reason Cheltenham can’t do the same. 

"It will also be a good couple of games for Trevor Carson, I’m sure he’ll be looking forward to going back there because their fans love him as much as ours."

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