Oxford United 1 Cheltenham 3

Apparently there were a host of scouts at Saturday’s game looking at Cheltenham’s on loan keeper Jack Butland and possibly our own Robbie Hall. These two may well be accompanying each other on a failed expedition to the World Cup in the future. But far from reporting back on those flibberty gibbets, the scouts would do well to report back what a good manager Mark Yates is. 
Yates has always done well with what he’s be given; which isn’t much usually. He has a talent for spotting strong, skillful, no-nonsense players who work like dogs. To illustrate the point, Mark Creighton and James Constable are both Yates signings from when he was at Kidderminster. At a time when Cheltenham were in financial difficulties and looked like certainties for the drop, his appointment was a masterstroke.
He’s produced another very good side; by far the best we’ve faced at home this season. They reminded me of us at our pomp during the promotion season, straight forward in their approach and overwhelming with their force of personality. We just weren’t ready for them, or at least we didn’t have the personnel to deal with them. This was truly a game that needed Michael Duberry’s influence. We needed him to helped compose the defence, we needed Potter to disrupt the straight lines Cheltenham played down. Andy Whing tried to slow things down, but he doesn’t command the same respect on the pitch or in the crowd to settle things. Hall was overwhelmed and intimidated by their game – they showed him off to be the boy he is. 
We expect too much from Hall. He has the talent, but he’s 17, expecting him to dominate the game against the better players in the division is probably pushing things too far at the moment. Against the more moderate sides, he shows what a good player he’ll be, against the real men of the better teams he won’t get the same space. England internationals are in the boy’s future; but the streetwise Craddock and Potter are probably more useful to us in that situation.
We’ve just played the best three teams in the division, two of them away, the third on a hot streak away from home. Mark Yates’ abilities do not make Chris Wilder a bad manager. 

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Oxblogger is a blog about Oxford United.

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