Blogs & Opinion


Peter Beagrie:

Most Popular Posts:

Recent Comments:

Gary Bennett on Reading crashers

"Leeds have thrown away too many games this season with our dodgy defence conceding too many soft goals.Scoring goals has not been a problem and i think the play offs are still there to ... " View all comments

The final miracle

Peter previews the League Two Play-Off Final

Peter Beagrie - Peter Beagrie Posted 24th May 2012 view comments

Cheltenham were second favourites for relegation at the start of the season. Now they're slight favourites to go up.

It's been a topsy-turvy and occasionally patchy season for Mark Yates' side. At times they haven't looked like being able to win a game and at other times they've looked unbeatable. But as the season drew to a close, they won six of their last eight and are the form horses in the League Two Play-Offs.

Yates: is he set for Wembley glory

Yates: is he set for Wembley glory

This is Yates' first job in the Football League and he's performed a minor miracle. On Sunday he can become the first man to win promotion via the Play-Offs as both a player and a manager with the same club, having played in the Cheltenham side that beat Grimsby 3-1 in 2006.

When he took over from Martin Allen in December 2009 the club wasn't in great shape, but he's managed to improve their league position every year.

This game boils down to youth against experience with Cheltenham the bigger, stronger and more physical outfit. At this moment in time they are probably the slight favourites and have more depth in their squad to choose from.

Peter Beagrie
Quotes of the week

LIVE ON SKY SPORTS
League Two Play-Off Final
Cheltenham v Crewe

2.30am, Sun, Sky Sports 2 HD
Watch on the move with Sky Go
How to remote record

He guided them to sixth this term and they were brilliant in the Play-Off semi-final with Torquay, winning 4-1 over two legs. They had to call upon goalkeeper Scott Brown a few times early on, but they soon took over the game.

They boast several players in form. Ben Burgess has three goals in his last five and James Spencer has two in four. Top scorer Darryl Duffy and 10-goal hitman Jeff Goulding have only been on the bench lately!

Marlon Pack has great ability from set pieces and the speedy ball-carrier Kaid Mohamed will enjoy himself on the Wembley pitch. Jermaine McGlashan was the outstanding player in the semi-finals and I think he will be a real threat to Crewe.

Those players have the skill and pace to turn defence into attack and if Cheltenham can get the ball to Mohamed and McGlashan in the wide areas they will be a real threat.

Strides

Crewe are another side who have taken huge strides this season.

Steve Davis took the team on a 16-match unbeaten run in early 2012 and that's largely down to the way they have become more solid defensively. David Artell has been a big player for them at the back, as has Adam Dugdale, and they have tightened up tremendously.

But this Crewe side still boasts some very accomplished footballers. Dario Gradi has produced a consistent supply line of Academy talent over the years and that's evident in the current attacking pairing of AJ Leitch-Smith and Nick Powell.

Leitch-Smith runs the channels for fun and makes teams defend deep, which allows Powell to operate behind the centre-halves. He's a tremendously balanced player, full of tricks and a lot of big clubs are looking at him. They are 22 and 18 respectively, but these boys have become men this season, playing with no fear and a smile on their faces.

I understand 18 of Crewe's 26-man squad are Academy graduates and their youth system is as spectacular as ever - but they'll be hoping to be stars of the present, rather than stars of the future when they get to Wembley.

Call

Of the three Play-Off Finals, this is probably the hardest to call. Southend and Torquay were arguably the favourites to reach Wembley, so these two teams don't mind tearing up the form book.

This game boils down to youth against experience with Cheltenham the bigger, stronger and more physical outfit. At this moment in time they are probably the slight favourites and have more depth in their squad to choose from.

But Crewe were able to dispose of a much more experienced Southend team in the semis and will be looking to their likely lads - Leitch-Smith and Powell - to book them a place in League One.

Both teams like to go forward and play football in the right manner and they are worthy finalists. They have earned the right to play in the national stadium and I'm pleased the playing surface is worthy of the venue these days; the ball should run true for these footballing sides.

The old Wembley had 39 steps. This one has 107 steps, but they'll bounce up them with a spring in their boots if they win the game.

It'll feel like 1,007 steps if you end up on the wrong side of the result though...

back to top

Other Football Experts:

Latest Posts in Football:

Graeme Souness

Im-pressed by Bayern

Graeme Souness explains why Bayern's pressing game will yield many more positives than negatives....

Guillem Balague

Choose Van Gaal

Louis van Gaal is ideal to replace David Moyes at Manchester United, says Guillem Balague....

Latest News RSS feeds

Liverpool set to strengthen

Ian Ayre is confident Liverpool will be able to attract their top targets in what promises to be a busy summer.

United: Scholes helping out

Manchester United have confirmed Paul Scholes is at Carrington assisting interim boss Ryan Giggs.

Barca transfer ban suspended

Barcelona's one-year transfer ban has been suspended while the club's appeal against the sanction remains unresolved.

Chelsea suffer double blow

Petr Cech will miss the remainder of Chelsea's season after suffering a shoulder injury in the draw at Atletico Madrid.

Real Madrid v Bayern preview

Real Madrid and Bayern Munich meet at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals.

Features

El Nino's return

El Nino's return

Some see Fernando Torres as a figure of fun but he saved face in front of his own, writes Adam Bate.

Ten reasons why David Moyes had to go

Ten reasons why David Moyes had to go

Only 10 reasons? The fact that this will be the reaction of many Manchester United fans goes some way to illustrating just how disastrous David Moyes’ time in charge of the club has been. Here’s a discussion of some of the problems that have led to his exit…

Why Pep Guardiola finds himself under scrutiny as Bayern Munich boss despite his team's success

Why Pep Guardiola finds himself under scrutiny as Bayern Munich boss despite his team's success

David Moyes found it impossible to replace a legend. For Pep Guardiola, the situation was slightly different but no less tricky. After all, what do you buy the girl who has everything?