A first league win of the season for Reading and now four losses for Cheltenham Town - a tale of two teams
Reading entered this game after the horror show at Port Vale. All eyes were on the team selection at 7pm and I feel that even the most ardent fan, hand on heart, probably wasn’t expecting as drastic a change as what Ruben Selles did. There was a case to drop three or even four players after the torrid Port Vale defeat, but seven was probably more than most people expected.
Cheltenham similarly have had a dreadful start to the season, losing all the games they have played, and fan patience as we know is sometimes thinner than a piece of paper.
Still, the phrase is ‘fortune favours the bold’ and Selles was definitely that, fielding a team with the average age of 22, which is probably more than the total appearances of the whole starting 11 excluding Amadou Mbengue! What Selles did get was the youthful exuberance and playing with no fear, which at times was a little nervy, but actually Selles had nothing to lose. Let’s face it, the fans asked for this team and I think Selles would have been attacked if he didn’t make changes.
Anyhow, onto the tweets from the Cheltenham fans’ views:
For a Tuesday, I think they brought more than most Championship clubs did last season
If in doubt blame the ref...
Well, nothing beats positivity
I can’t believe how much the club has regressed since that final game against Charlton in May.— Talking Cheltenham (@TALKINGCHELT) August 16, 2023
No creativity. No confidence. No identity. No passion.
Bench absolutely embarrassing as well.
Extremely worrying season ahead at this rate. #ctfc
The Abbey/Bindon effect I think this is more commonly known as
Frustrating tonight. Lots of effort but no creative spark at all. Keena & Street are getting no service at all - saying they're feeding off scraps would be exaggerating how much they're getting. Both ran themselves into the ground though. #ctfc— Dave Nelson (@nelbo009) August 15, 2023
The manager’s starting to get it then
Weakest League One? Really? REALLY???
Feels ominous this year, even with the weakest league one in years— Dan (@SydneyDanno) August 15, 2023
Downgrades all over the pitch/backroom
Lack of confidence throughout the club#ctfc
I saw this a few years back - recycling at its best
Stat of the week
Reading were absolutely terrible but we still barely laid a glove on them. Points there for the taking tonight. No fault of the players but the quality is absolutely woeful #CTFC— Maxi Hobbs (@maxihobbs) August 15, 2023
We’re easy pickings and Pompey will be licking their lips
Need a scapegoat - always the ref
That officiating team were a complete joke tonight. Some of the players weren’t upto it tonight either but we were playing against 12. We were all over them second half. Southwood the clear MOTM For me. #ctfc— Jim Musto (@musto_jim) August 15, 2023
Takes some doing
For the second season running, Cheltenham Town have started with four successive defeats #ctfc— Jon Palmer (@JonPalmerSport) August 15, 2023
I mean to be fair they have a point
Consistency at its best...
So, I am trying to get some media coverage, but these are the best bits.
Gloucestershire Live carry a 10-minute interview with Wade Elliott, who praises his players and wonders how many black cats the bus driver has driven over, as well as a bit around Tyler Bindon pulling Rob Street down.
Down at the Reading Chronicle and James points out rightly that this is our first win since February (that’s six months in real-person terms and four months in football terms), so the kids have actually probably got rid of both our unwanted records of not winning away for what felt like decades and also a league win.
As always we can rely on the BBC to be, well the BBC. They focus on Selles’ team selection and, in their view, we dominated the first half but were fortunate to go into the break 1-0 up. I’m not quite sure how you can be dominant and fortunate but hey I’m not a reporter.
Finally with Sky Sports they have the highlights package which is 1.20 of our kids taking pot shots at the Cheltenham goal and nine seconds of a weak dig from Cheltenham. Surprisingly they don’t show the last-ditch Giorgio Chiellini-style defending from young Bindon to tackle Street.
So, after a much-needed win, we welcome Stevenage to the Theatre of Youth (SCL) on Saturday. This will be a sterner test with the Boro side sitting joint top with a perfect league record after three games. Wins breed confidence, so this should be a highly entertaining game and the team selection that Selles puts out will be interesting. Dare he stick with the same side against a more formidable opponent or does he play caution?
My personal thought is I would not be surprised to see a couple of established players in the side, if nothing else but to add some composure, but I would not be against the same team starting.
A lot has been said of the Abbey/Bindon partnership and it works really well. But we need to remember that this is league football over 10 months and is demanding. While they look to be the preferred partnership, we cannot and should not expect all hope to be on them or the other kids.
Thus, getting the senior players’ heads sorted is probably a pressing task that Selles must deal with as we will need them at some point this season. This is a squad game - it goes throughout the senior pros that they also have a responsibly to help the younger players develop. I really hope they are behind this and have been properly explained why they lost their spots and use this to drive their desire for the upcoming games.
Saying that, who’s that famous pundit who said “you can’t win anything with kids”? That worked out well for him. Hopefully this is our Class of ‘23.