Every Word From Cheltenham Head Coach Wade Elliott After Port Vale Draw

Wade Elliott was in a contented mood following his sides goalless draw at home to Port Vale on Saturday afternoon. The Robins picked up their first point of 2023, following defeats in all four Sky Bet League One matches this season.

Having played table toppers Plymouth Argyle and promotion chasing Derby County, Saturday seemed to be the optimal chance to break their duct. “I thought it was a little bit of a nervous performance, a little bit tentative: especially the first half, we got better and stronger as we went on. The last 20 minutes we were on top and could have won it. It was a little bit nervous which I understand.”

Despite the results, the Robins can take the positives from recent matches, having taken the Rams close a fortnight ago in their 3-2 loss at the Completely-Suzuki Stadium, a 4-2 defeat at Home Park still showed positives. Saturday’s match against The Valiants seemed to be the end of a high.

Elliott continued when questioned about the expectation of points against sides not at the top of the table. “It’s probably rightfully or wrongfully more expectation on this game. They will feel that. It is part of the learning progress, to ultimately play at the level want to get to, coping with pressure is a thing you must develop and learn.”

A dull first half saw Will Goodwin loop his header over the bar from a corner, and despite little effect on the Vale goal in the second, tactical changes saw the game open up more for the Robins. “Second half I think we wrestled the momentum back, but in the first half we looked a little reactive. In recent when we’ve been good, we’ve been on the front foot and forced the tempo of the game and looked reactive to everything.”

They are the positives: you aren’t going to be brilliant every week so to get a point when you’re not playing at your best goes a long way. It’s a clean sheet and a point build on next week.”

Elliott decided to only make one change before the 88th minute, a substitution that saw Ryan Jackson introduced for James Olayinka. Questions from the stands were asked why the likes of Charlie Brown or Christian Norton were not thrown on. “There is a lot of different permutations going on the side, personnel, formations, we changed the shape a little bit. We changed the midfield, got Broomy [Ryan Broom] a little further forward. I thought Broom’s energy would get us up the pitch a little bit.

I think it was about balance, betting another forward on we would have to change shape. And the game was so delicately poised, the fact we had all the momentum in the last 20 minutes and we were coming on strong, you risk
disrupting the flow in making a change for the sake of making one and becomes counterproductive.”

With the transfer window slamming shut on Tuesday evening, Elliott was optimistic that he could add the numbers into his squad. “We were on the phone last night until god knows, I can’t say who or what was asked for, I wouldn’t want to be too revealing, but there’s loads of work going on.

It will be one or two, it won’t be masses, but I don’t think we need masses and masses. I think it would be nice to have one or two to change the dynamics a little bit and to give everybody a little of a lift and fresh things up. We
had a big churn in the summer, fortunately were in the position were in the position, it doesn’t need to be massive.”

Yesterdays arrival of Aidan Keena from Irish club Sligo Rovers has seemed to raise a few eyebrows at the club, the Irishman has come in for a record fee, but some are thinking pessimistically about the deal, with the threat of star player Alfie May departing. Elliott gave fans a clear and fortunate message: “I’m not aware of any bids or anything like that, I guess I know who you are asking about, but I’m not aware of anything no.”

“I couldn’t give you that nuance or answer on the balance of the market, the position that we are looking, there are a lot of clubs looking for a small pool of players, and a big number of clubs looking. Maybe the last window was the
outlier, we did some outstanding work really early but it may be unrealistic to expect that every window.”

“If we go to Bolton with the squad, I got I would be satisfied, if we go up there with one or two more, I would be delighted. We got our numbers back up to five, he’s come in and it was a little bit if a disruptive week. I feel for
Elkan, he’s come in and obviously had an issue last weekend. He’s trained well Thursday and Friday so it’s pleasing to have another option in there.”

One position that is seemingly bare, is in centre midfield. Dan Adshead has been out for a while, and with Liam Sercombe forced to be removed from play against Derby with an ankle injury, a midfield signing could be likely. Elliott did give an update on the fitness of Sercombe.

“I dont think with Sercombe it will be a really long one. There were two ways we could have gone with it. We tried the shorter one, because we would have liked Sercombe back as soon as possible, but he’s felt it a little bit so
hopefully he will be on the treadmill next week if there is no reaction.”

Cheltenham are back in action on Saturday away at play-off hunting Bolton Wanderers. Before that though, transfer deadline day could see dramatic dealings done, with many hoping to hide their star players away for a few more hours.

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