New Broom sweeps in with improving display
» Jon Palmer looks at the main issues arriving from Cheltenham Town’s 4-1 home victory over Scunthorpe United in League Two
» Thoroughly deserved victory without four big players
A Cheltenham team without Luke Varney, Will Boyle, Rohan Ince and Reuben Reid came from behind to pick up their first victory of the season.
The first half was devoid of goalscoring chances and heavily influenced by gale force winds.
But Cheltenham passed the ball around well with Aston Villa youngster Jake Doyle-hayes pulling strings on his debut.
» Ryan Broom transformed after halftime
Not much went to plan for Broom in the opening 45 minutes.
Moved from his attacking central midfield role at Orient to right wingback, he saw plenty of the ball and often found space.
But he was clattered a couple of times by Scunthorpe’s no-nonsense left-back Ntlhe and also sent over some wayward balls into the box, admittedly not helped by the conditions.
Crucially, he did not let his head go down and after being denied by one outstanding save in the 50th minute and then seeing Scunthorpe snatch the opening goal, he responded in the perfect manner.
Broom received a pass from Sheaf, beat one defender and curled a fine left-footed effort into the bottom left corner to register Cheltenham’s first goal of the 2019/20 campaign.
If he was not quite man of the match, he was probably man of the second half.
» A brilliant cameo and first Football League goal from Alex Addai
Addai went on for Tahvon Campbell just after Broom’s equaliser and he was soon causing major problems for the Scunthorpe defence, who had battled well to contain Campbell and full debutant Gavin Reilly for most of the opening hour.
The second goal came from a Chris Clements corner, which was cleared back to him and his volleyed delivery was powered into the net by the head of Raglan, making up for his error in the build-up to Scunthorpe’s goal.
The third was all about Addai’s power and pace, racing onto a through ball from Reilly and holding off the challenge of Andy Butler before finishing through the legs of Eastwood.
Reilly also played Addai through in the 94th minute before he was tripped by Jordan Clarke in the box and Thomas calmly stroked in from the spot to complete the emphatic turnaround.
Addai is in the process of being converted from a winger to a centre forward and judging by this impact, the transition is going smoothly.
» Positive first impression for Aston Villa youngster
Michael Duff used one deeper-lying midfielder behind two more attacking players during most of pre-season and also at Leyton Orient.
But with Ince serving the first of his five match ban, Duff opted to revert to two holding players and one in the hole.
Doyle-hayes looked completely comfortable in Cheltenham’s midfield, playing next to Clements, with Sheaf operating in a move advanced role.
All three of Duff’s midfield technicians made a positive impression, but Doyle-hayes edged it, particularly in the first half.
He showed composure, neat touches and obvious passing ability on his debut, offering plenty of encouragement and it will be extremely difficult to leave him out if he maintains these standards.
There will be dogfights and aerial bombardments to come and Cheltenham’s midfield will need to show real mettle to stand up to that if they are to prove last season’s frailties in the centre of the pitch have been addressed.
But this was pleasing on the eye and bodes well for the rest of the season, especially with the more physically imposing Ince still to come back.
» Ben Tozer battles on through illness and Sean Long underlines value
The captain was not feeling well and Duff confirmed he had been sick at half-time, but he battled on, playing on the left of the back three in place of the injured Boyle, with Raglan in the middle and Sean Long on the right.
Long underlined his value with an accomplished performance after moving in from the wing-back role he fulfilled at Leyton Orient.
Duff will have been pleased with his team’s organisation and defensive shape on the whole and Raglan took on the central role well.
Cheltenham were able to celebrate their first win over Scunthorpe for more than 15 year and they have now lost only one home league game since the 2-0 defeat by Stevenage on October 27 last year.
Improving away results remains one of Duff’s biggest challenges.
Ryan Broom celebrates his goal