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:

Guillem Balague

Making it for Messi

Barca and Real feature but Spain's best side isn't in the Copa del Rey final, says Guillem Balague....

Paul Merson

Still in the frame

Paul Merson says Everton's top-four bid and Man City's title hopes won't be derailed on Wednesday....

Latest News RSS feeds

Sturridge could face Norwich

Liverpool are optimistic that striker Daniel Sturridge will be fit for this weekend's game against Norwich.

Pellegrini vows to fight on

Manuel Pellegrini admitted the loss to Liverpool was still on Manchester City's minds as they drew with Sunderland.

Martinez disappointed by loss

Roberto Martinez conceded his Everton side had not been at their best after going down 3-2 at home to Crystal Palace.

Poyet pleased to defy critics

Gus Poyet has vowed to continue fighting for safety after Sunderland's 2-2 draw with Manchester City on Wednesday.

Pulis hails remarkable Palace

Tony Pulis hailed his Crystal Palace players after they beat Everton to reach 40 points in the Premier League.

Features

Saluting Giroud

Saluting Giroud

Daniel Storey has praise for Olivier Giroud after a soldiering performance against West Ham.

Liverpool was a city united on the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster

Liverpool was a city united on the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster

From early morning, a steady stream of visitors made their way to the Hillsborough Memorial on Anfield Road to pay their respects.

Sky Sports Scout, in association with Wyscout, reports on Swiss striker Josip Drmic

Sky Sports Scout, in association with Wyscout, reports on Swiss striker Josip Drmic

Sky Sports Scout is our exciting feature where we scour the globe, in partnership with Wyscout, looking out for the best talent and bring you a report on what we find.