Cheltenham Town 1 Leyton Orient 1
Waters (76) Massey (3)
EPL League 2, August 2016
Cheltenham Town were held at home by Leyton Orient in their first game back in the League after their brief spell in non league football.
I made a leisurely day of this one, driving down the M6 and M5 and not getting too steamed up about the regular delays caused by the usual crop of motorway roadworks - it was pretty much 50 mph all the way! I parked in the Parklands Social Club car park, just around the corner from the stadium for £4 - not too bad at all these days. Inside the club they had a big screen showing the BT Sport lunchtime offering of Maidstone United v York City, a decent bar (albeit the Tetleys "Hadn't been delivered so there's none of that"); and a few sandwiches for sale which were again pretty good for a quid fifty.
The front of the ground is not very inspiring; it is now sponsored by LCI Rail (although I confess I didn't establish what that is!). For some reason the deal with "World of Smile" has been abandoned . There is a large car park in front of the ground and today the ice cream van was doing a roaring trade! Inside the ground the facilities are fine for this level of football - the toilet facilities were clean and tidy and plenty of them although at the end of the game they seemed to be conserving water as the taps had given up the ghost! There was plenty of food on offer too around the ground.
Three sides of the ground are a continuous single tier format with the home end part of that an all terraced affair while the stand along the touchline and the opposite end (used for the away fans) was seating. The fourth side of the ground has one big old main stand which dates from the 1960's by the look of it with seats above a terraced section on the touchline. This stand sits proudly over the halfway line but does not extend to either end of the ground. The home end I was in was pretty full and the initial reception for their heroes was excellent, a recognition of the successful season they had last year in regaining their league status. A minute's applause was held before the start of the game with both teams stood around the centre circle. This was in tribute to Colin Farmer; a Director and servant of the club for over 30 years. He had died suddenly during the week. In the programme notes much of the development of the ground in the last twenty years was put down to his efforts. It was clearly a heartfelt salute to one of their own.
The game itself was the classic "game of two halves" with Orient storming into the lead as early as the 3rd minute and then looking like they would thrash the Robins comfortably. However, they couldn't add to their lead and in the second half the Robins finally came into their own and got their own fans behind them with a series of potent attacks. They equalised deservedly on 76 minutes and were actually unlucky not to go on and win the game. As a neutral, the 1 - 1 final scoreline was probably about right.
Cheltenham was a bit of a pain to get out of after the game and it was still boiling hot but it had been a decent day out with none of the stress you get following your own team!
So, that's me back to a full house of 92 current grounds which should remain the case now until next season.