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In opposition: Cheltenham Town - ones to watch

4 March 2022

Manager Michael Duff and his Cheltenham Town side have a good blend of youth and experience as they currently sit 15th in the Sky Bet League One table heading into the weekend’s fixture with Rovers.

They have earned 41 points so far, which should be enough to keep the team in League One for a second consecutive season. Players like Matty Blair and Liam Sercombe have provided leadership in the middle of the field and defence, while youngsters such as January loan signing Kion Etete and Ellis Chapman have added plenty in attack.

Former Rovers striker Alfie May leads the attack for the Robins and is their top scorer with 18 goals this season. In all, 17 different players have etched their name on the score sheet this season for the Robins, with the team averaging 1.29 goals per game in Sky Bet League One. 

Kion Etete 

Born and raised in Derby, forward Etete joined Cheltenham on loan during the most recent January transfer window. He arrived at the Robins after spending time with Northampton Town, where he was also on loan from parent club Tottenham Hotspur.

Etete is a product of the Notts County Academy, and went on to make his senior debut for the club in a Papa John’s Trophy draw with Newcastle United U21s in October 2018.

After joining Spurs in August 2021 following a successful trial with the club, Etete went out on loan to Northampton Town and made his debut in a Carabao Cup game against Coventry City, with the striker scoring twice.

His first league goal came in October, when he netted a goal as part of a 3-0 win over Stevenage. Since arriving at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium, Etete has scored two goals and provided a pair of assists for the Robins in seven games. 

Matty Blair 

A name Rovers fans will be very familiar with, Blair made more than 160 appearances for Rovers after joining the club from Mansfield Town in the summer of 2016. In his first season in South Yorkshire, the 32-year-old played a crucial role in helping Rovers win promotion back to Sky Bet League One at the first attempt.

The former Fleetwood man was comfortable in midfield or at right-back and was also part of the squad that reached the Sky Bet League One play-off semi-finals under Grant McCann in 2019. He departed at the end of the 2019/20 season and joined Cheltenham soon after.

He added another promotion to his impressive CV last season with the Robins and continues to be a regular in their side under Michael Duff this season.

Liam Sercombe 

Midfielder Liam Sercombe joined the Robins in August 2020, following his release from Bristol Rovers. He marked his arrival at Cheltenham Town with by scoring the winner on his debut for the club in a 1-0 victory over Peterborough United in the Carabao Cup.

Sercombe began his career with Exeter City, signing his first professional contract with the club in June 2007.

He would spend eight seasons with Exeter City, appearing in over 240 league matches and netting 23 goals in the process.

He stayed at the club until 2015, when he moved on to Oxford United for two seasons, followed by a move to Bristol Rovers.

Sercombe has registered seven goals in 64 league appearances for the Robins since his arrival at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium. 

Alfie May 

Another former Rovers man, May arrived in South Yorkshire after plying his trade in Non-League and impressing with his goalscoring exploits. 

He scored three goals in the sixth months after joining the club and played his part in promotion to the third tier. The former Hythe Town man spent three years with Rovers, making more than 100 appearances in the process. 

He signed for Cheltenham on a two-and-a-half year deal in January 2020 and has since established himself as their leading man in attack. The 28-year-old has scored 30 goals in 76 league starts for the Robins and was part of the title winning squad last season. 

May has picked up where he left off in the current campaign and has 18 in all competitions so far, proving he will be a threat which Rovers will have to be wary of on Saturday afternoon.

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