Bishop’s Cleeve 0-6 Cheltenham Town: Five things we learned
Cheltenham Town won for the first time this pre-season as a hat-trick from Mohamed Eisa helped them to a 6-0 victory over Bishop’s Cleeve.
All of the first teamers available to Gary Johnson got a run out at Kayte Lane as Carl Winchester, Harry Pell and trialist Mike Fondop-Talom also netted against the Mitres.
Another trialist also featured in red and white, here are five things we learned from the Robins’ friendly rout.
1- It’s hard not to get excited about Eisa
Undoubtedly the main talking point from the match was the performance of Mohamed Eisa.
The former Greenwich Borough striker scored three first half goals before going off at half time and it looks as though Gary Johnson may have unearthed a non-league gem.
The 22-year-old also scored against Oxford City earlier on in the week and has now netted four in two games for the Robins.
Of course bigger tests against better opposition are yet to come but the Sudan-born speedster has so far shown real confidence and suave, always looking for the ball and wanting to go forward whilst driving at defenders.
Eisa ensured that it was a tough 45 minutes for Bishop’s Cleeve goalkeeper Paul Tassell, showing great pace and skill to beat a defender and then round the veteran stopper before tapping home after just three minutes.
Number two also involved beating a man before smashing underneath Tassell and the third was a deft touch into the bottom corner after a well timed run that saw him put clean through.
It’s early days, but Eisa has been the stand out man in pre-season so far.
2- Josh Thomas is handling the step up to first team football well
Former CTFC youth-team captain Josh Thomas made his second appearance since turning professional at Kayte Lane.
Playing out on the right hand side, the 18-year-old managed to deliver some good crosses in the first half, playing a part in Carl Winchester’s goal.
Thomas also offered more of a goal threat when played further forward after the interval, forcing a good save out of Cleeve’s second half keeper Timmy Griffiths, when his shot looked destined for the top corner.
We will see more of Thomas in the coming pre-season fixtures and all supporters love to see a home grown player doing well.
Fellow recently turned pro’s Matt Bower and Adam Page also featured along with current under-18’s pair Jamie Kilkenny and George Lloyd.
Lloyd is certainly someone to keep an eye out for this coming season, the forward is a regular scorer for Antoine Thompson and Pete Haynes’ Academy side.
3- It was third time lucky for Fondop-Talom
Johnson made seven changes with the half time score at 4-0 and two of those coming on were trialists Elliott Kebbie and Mike Fondop-Talom.
With the Robins seemingly on the hunt for one more striker, likely to be a target man, the athletic looking Fondop-Talom certainly looked physical enough to fit the bill.
However it was a tough 45 minutes for the 6ft 3in former Margate front-man. Despite testing Cleeve’s second half keeper twice in the early stages, Fondop-Talom blazed a close range shot at an open goal over the crossbar.
After being put through one on one, he then sliced wide with the goal gaping but finally scored after winning the ball back in the opposition penalty box, prompting ironic cheers from the supporters behind the goal.
Fondop-Talom is clearly a unit and recently scored twice for Torquay United on trial but will definitely require another look if Johnson decides to keep him at the club a little while longer.
As for Elliott Kebbie, the well travelled former Athletico Madrid man did his job at right back and hardly put a foot wrong, he is likely to play for Cheltenham again and with good reason.
4- Cheltenham Town’s defence dominated the air
With Jordon Forster, Will Boyle and Jamie Grimes as the likely first choice centre backs- it’s going to take more than a big man to bully and bombard that Cheltenham back line.
The trio won every single header whilst out on the pitch and all demonstrated good leadership and communication skills, both impressive attributes for such a relatively young set of defenders.
With Dan O’Shaughnessy and Matt Bower added to the mix, the Robins have an imposing and well stocked central defence that will surely only get better under the guidance of Aaron Downes before the Sky Bet League Two season gets underway.
5- It was business as usual for wanted man Harry Pell
Reports have been emerging all week linking Harry Pell with a move away from Cheltenham Town.
The 25-year-old is subject to interest from clubs in League One and League Two but the charismatic midfielder was his usual self at Kayte Lane.
After coming on as a second half sub, Pell and central midfield partner Kyle Storer expectedly dictated the play.
Pell was denied by Griffiths when one of his trademark driven free-kicks was parried away but did score the fifth goal with a simple rebound.
Chairman Paul Baker and Cheltenham Town have reaffirmed their intentions to keep Pell at Whaddon Road, despite the lucrative financial reward his departure would bring.
As for now, the former Hereford United and Bristol Rovers man appears to be content in Gloucestershire but you feel as though there could be tougher times ahead for the Robins in their quest to keep him from leaving the club.
words Luke Saunders