• Albion 2 - 0 Cheltenham, Capital One Cup, Round 1

    After the success of various 'themed' games over the last two seasons - Spanish Day, Fright Night, etc - the club decided to use the visit of Cheltenham to run the latest. A lot of thought clearly went into the planning, and made 'League Two Night' a great success.

    From restricting the crowd to a Withdeanesque 6,500, to picking an entire team utterly devoid of creative talent, the marketing experts at the club surpassed themselves this time. Sami bought into the idea, selecting a Mickey Adams like line up, with a defender shoe-horned into centre midfield.


    Cheltenham played their part, by being, frankly terrible, and their fans reminded us of how easily pleased we used to be, by enthusiastically clapping each time a defender, in ten yards of space, hoofed the ball miles into the stands.

    The Albion players contributed to varying degrees. Jake Forster-Caskey's succession of Dean Cox inspired set pieces, straight onto the head of the first man, were a nice touch, but Kemy Agustien stole the show with his immaculate impression of a League Two plodder.

    So little happened in the first two thirds of this match, that it's only worth talking about it in general terms. It turns out that if you play no creative players, then you don't create anything. Who knew?

    There's no point drawing any conclusions from this game, as the opposition offered no threat, but Dunk and Greer at the back were imperious - too good for the Robins' forwards, to the point of embarrassment. Chicksen acquitted himself well too, but that's based solely on his time in possession - he had no defending to do.

    Rohan Ince stood out in midfield, without needing to do anything spectacular, and all the while covering for the deficiencies of his midfield colleagues. I'm not sure whether there was a language problem as the instructions were conveyed, but Bruno took Sami's "you're playing in central midfield tonight", to mean "Go and do whatever you fancy. Wander about the pitch wherever the mood takes you, trying lots of unnecessary flicks and taking lots of risks in inappropriate areas". Fan opinion is divided on how good a player Bruno actually is. One thing is absolutely certain - he's nowhere near as good as he thinks he is.

    Up top O'Grady worked hard, and showed some decent touches. CMS is a riddle. He's capable of outstanding strikes, but all too often he plays like a pub footballer, trapped in the body of an elite athlete.

    A deft flick on the edge of the box from O'Grady, slipped in Kemy 10 yards from goal, with just the keeper to beat. Kemy had three options - put his laces through it, curl it into a corner, or try a load of step-overs, lose sight of the ball, almost fall over, then let the ball bounce off him into the arms of the helpless keeper. The star that he is, he pulled off option 3 with panache. A moment of magic, third only to Obika's overhead kick and Leo's penalty. Spectacular.

    We almost created some chances, as Cheltenham tired, and the game became more stretched. O'Grady released CMS but his poor control let him down, when through on goal. Then a minute later with O'Grady free, CMS had the chance to return the favour, but over hit his ball straight though to the keeper.

    With 20 minutes to go Sami got bored of the theme night, and threw on LuaLua to change the game. With March injured and Buckley seemingly out of the door, he didn't have any other options. Kazenga's pace and direct running had the Robins' defence immediately on the back foot, and suddenly there was actually belief that we might see a goal.

    When it finally came, it was notable on two counts. First, we did something from a corner that worked, and second, it marked the first ever Albion goal for Lewis Dunk, in merely his 52nd appearance. Calderon ran out of the box to receive the short corner, turned and chipped the ball to the far post, where Dunk was free to stoop and head the ball back across the goal, under the outstretched arm of the keeper. Dunk ran to the corner flag, and celebrated in front of half a dozen people, in a manner fitting of the winning goal in a European final. Bless him.

    Champions League winner

    In the last minute, Lualua released CMS with a terrific through ball, so that he could sprint into the box and blast it straight at the keeper. Oh wait. No he didn't. He actually kept his composure, and stroked it past the keeper into the bottom left corner. Fair play.

    So - that was that. A first Amex win for Sami, which he'll be pleased about. Much sterner tests await though, and this side looks badly in need of reinforcements. Let's hope they are on their way.
    Comments 9 Comments
    1. Kazenga <3's Avatar
      Kazenga <3 -
    1. skipper734's Avatar
      skipper734 -
      Brilliant. More please.
    1. Papa Lazarou's Avatar
      Papa Lazarou -
      Very good
    1. Albumen's Avatar
      Albumen -
      Great stuff.
    1. amexee's Avatar
      amexee -
      Excellent, more than makes up for not being there
    1. Peter Grummit's Avatar
      Peter Grummit -
      Not too far off.

      One step at a time, a win is a win. Remember we've lost in the 1st round 4 out of the last 5 years. I believe we only need 2-3 players for a competitive team. Arguably most of our first choice midfield was missing - March, Stephens, Crofts.

    1. KZNSeagull's Avatar
      KZNSeagull -
    1. blue'n'white's Avatar
      blue'n'white -
      Very good indeed.
      I listened to it on the radio and it didn't seem that bad. Perhaps you needed to be there !
      Hopefully Sami's first competitive win will spur the team on to greater glory. I think his various injuries have taken their toll on CMS and he and Sami are just being uber cautious. Pleased to see him get a goal though - this will hopefully give him the confidence to get back somewhere near his best.
      I live in hope . . .
    1. Taybha's Avatar
      Taybha -
      Pretty much how it was , special mention to the crowd who have seemed to have upped their game on returning the ball to the pitch via a header rather than the catch and release mambypamby , 5 into the crowd 3 returns via the bonce , keep it up .
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