Pompey v Cheltenham: the opposition view

Cheltenham boss Gary Johnson

Cheltenham boss Gary Johnson

Joe Gallen, left, with new Pompey boss Kenny Jackett Picture: Colin Farmery

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Cheltenham claimed the National League last season in style with a winning total of 101 points.

It meant there were some expecting a League Two promotion push or at least a top-half finish.

Gary Johnson kept faith with virtually all of the team who served him so well – but unfortunately some have struggled with the step up.

That meant in January there was a big change, with nine players recruited, and it has improved.

During the second half of the campaign the results would have been enough to keep them in mid-table.

As it was, last weekend’s 1-0 win at Hartlepool finally secured Football League safety in a match the Robins needed only a point.

It had been a bit nervy up until that game, but now they can relax as they head to Fratton Park tomorrow.

Not that the Cheltenham players will be letting up for the final fixture, they are talking about professional pride and giving a good account of themselves.

Some will be playing their last game, others are borderline new contract and trying to convince they should stay.

A good away following is expected so it definitely won’t be a case of turning up and not bothering. The players are saying all the right things.

The match could even work in their favour, able to relax with no longer the pressure to remain in the Football League.

Manager Gary Johnson is still not involved as he recovers from a triple heart bypass.

His absence initially coincided with four successive defeats, but caretaker boss Russell Milton has overseen the team staying up.

Johnson won’t be there tomorrow and is not expected to return to work properly until next season. He is on the verge of signing a new two-year deal, albeit medical permitting.

However, the signs are good for him at the moment as he continues on the road to recovery.

Billy Waters has been one of the performers of the season with 16 goals, appearing in all 45 matches so far. No wonder he has collected four player of the year awards.

Goalkeeper Scott Brown has been outstanding since arriving on loan from Wycombe in January, as has Will Boyle at centre-half.

Midfielder Harry Pell has been shortlisted for League Two player of the month for April and done well.

Although he has now collected 15 bookings in all competitions, something he needs to work on.

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