Unfortunate Sara's - 10 May
Gerry Oldham felt his Cheltenham Saracens side were unfortunate to lose Monday's Bluefin Hellenic League Challenge Cup final against Oxford City Nomads.
They fell a goal down at Ardley United's ground, but Harlie Price made it 1-1 before half-time. Saracens created several good chances in the second half shooting down the slope, but they were undone by a second set-piece goal ten minutes from the end.
"We were very unlucky I thought," Oldham said in the Cheltenham press. "We conceded two scrappy goals when we failed to clear the ball properly and it cost us. The ground was hard and we couldn't pass it properly but it was a pleasing performance and on another day we could have won it comfortably."
Oldham felt the loss of key man Elliot Kennedy to a hamstring injury in the second half cost Saracens dear. "If he'd stayed on I think we'd have won the game," Oldham said. "He was tearing them to pieces, but we lost that edge and it was a real blow to lose him."
Oldham was also impressed with the performance of central defender Rob Joynes, who has been drafted in several times from Northern Senior League Cheltenham Civil Service. He covered for Mike Rhodes in the final, with the skipper unavailable. Former Cheltenham Town youth team left-back Luke Tovey took the armband. "I thought Rob did well because he's used to playing a few leagues lower, but he did a good job for us," Oldham said. "He timed his headers better in the second half and he's a good player. We are not the biggest side but we don't let anyone bully us and the players all stand up for each other, which I like to see.
"Next season they'll all be a year older and I don't see why we can't keep them all together and add one or two more as well." Oldham said he was disappointed with the performance of the officials in the final, but that overall Saracens could be proud of their efforts this term.
They improved on last season's league position and made pleasing progress in three knockout competitions. "I always want more from them, but the club has improved massively on and off the pitch," he said. "We made some money from the FA Vase run and reached the final of the League Cup, the semis of the County Cup and the last eight of the Floodlit Cup, so it's been a good season overall and I am pleased with the efforts of the lads."
Daunting Trip For Sara's - 26 April
A gruelling end to the season is drawing to a close for Cheltenham Saracens, but they face one of their most daunting trips of the season tomorrow.
Gerry Oldham's side visit champions Marlow, who have scored 113 goals in 34 games, losing only once or season. But Saracens can take heart from their 1-1 draw with the Buckinghamshire club at Petersfield Park earlier in the season. With only one more Hellenic League game to play after tomorrow, at home to Highworth next Tuesday, Saracens also have a League Cup final to look forward to against Oxford City Nomads on Monday, May 6.
Oldham is keen to finish the League campaign in fine style by spoiling Marlow's party, with the title winners set to be presented with the Hellenic League trophy tomorrow. They warmed up for their trip with a 2-1 victory over Wokingham and Emmbrook on Wednesday night, thanks to goals from Sonnie Burrows and a first for the club by Owen Donaghue.
"We are on a good little run now and hopefully we can keep it going for the last three games," Oldham said. "I am looking forward to seeing us play Marlow because we gave them a good game at home.
The only downside is that I don't have an experienced central defender because Mike Rhodes is working, Sam Slender is injured and Rob Joynes is back playing for Cheltenham Civil Service."
Oldham plans to play either Harlie Price or Lorcan Sheehan as an emergency centre-half. "We'll see who is available, but the lads are shattered with the amount of games we've had to catch up on, plus the cup quarter-finals and semi-finals."
Either Sheehan or Luke Tovey will captain Saracens in Rhodes' absence. "We want to go there and spoil the party," Oldham said. "They've done very well this season and they have a decent budget, but it's still not easy to deliver when you're under pressure and they've done that all season. We are doing well to compete with clubs like that and we've come a long way. It would be brilliant to get something tomorrow."
Impressive Donaghue - 12 April
Gerry Oldham praises his Cheltenham Saracens young guns despite watching them go down 3-0 at Holyport on Tuesday.
Oldham fielded a team packed with teenagers, with a host of senior players unavailable, and it was without doubt the most youthful side to represent the club at Hellenic League level. Mike Rhodes, Elliott Kennedy, Jamie Hammond, Luke Tovey and Sam Slender were among those unavailable for the lengthy midweek trip to Berkshire.
Oldham said: "The scoreline flattered them without doubt and we should have had a penalty, but it wasn't about the result for me. There were so many positives and I just enjoyed watching the young lads play because they are fearless. I have to be honest and say that if we didn't have so many players out, their chance wouldn't have come so soon, but it will do them no harm at all and now I know they are there if needed. I had to laugh after the game when they thought they were going to have to pay for their food, but teams have to put it on for free at this level. We left at 5.15pm and didn't get back to Cheltenham until gone midnight, but it was an enjoyable night and I was heartened by the attitude of all the youngsters."
Among those to impress Oldham was 17-year-old Owen Donaghue, pictured, whose brother Joe is also Saracens' books. Owen has been told he will be released by Cheltenham Town at the end of this season after a two-year scholarship. "He's a winger really, but I've played him up front for the last two games and he has been outstanding," Oldham said. "He has won his headers and his first touch is good, but he just needs a goal now and he looks a really good player.
Jake Elmore and Matt Sherman, also both 17, and 18-year-old Ash Hill, all started against Holyport and eight of the side have represented Saracens at youth level.
Saracens played Shrivenham at home last night securing a 2-0 victory, they now travel to Kidlington tomorrow.
Learn From Error - 29 March
Saracen's manager Gerry Oldham wants son Jack to learn from his dismissal for two yellows midweek, but he said he does not want to take away the 20-year-old's aggressive streak.
Abingdon are battling against relegation, but Saracens had to play for half an hour with ten men after Oldham's son Jack (pictured) was sent off for a second yellow card. "He let the boys down really and I wasn't happy with either of the challenges that he was booked for," Oldham said. "He could have no complaints and he'll have to sit out a match through suspension now. I don't want him to lose that aggression, but it must be channeled in the right way."
"Abingdon were actually a decent side and it was an even game so I have no complaints about the result," Oldham added. "They were lively and committed and they are battling to stay up, so we expected it to be tough and it was. Their equaliser was a lovely goal and overall I was quite happy with how we did, particularly with ten men."
Saracens play Flackwell Heath at home tomorrow and they will be without defender Rob Joynes, who will return to Northern Senior League Division One club Cheltenham Civil Service. "Rob has been outstanding for us, helping us out while Sam Slender has been injured," Oldham said. "He's everything I like in a defender and we are grateful to Civil Service for letting us have him."
Mike Oliver returns to the squad and is likely to partner Mike Rhodes at the back, with Slender still ruled out. Josh Swales is also out with a knee problem, but Oldham expects him back soon for the remainder of the season. Saracens still have 11 Hellenic League games to play as well as a League Cup quarter-final against Brimscombe and Thrupp, which will take place on Thursday, April 18 at Petersfield Park.
At Least 13 Games To Fit In - 27 March
Saturday's League Cup quarter-final tie against Brimsbcombe and Thrupp was Cheltenham Saracens' 22nd postponement of the season.
It leaves Gerry Oldham's men with twelve Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division fixtures and at least one cup to fit in before the end of April. They hope to start that run to struggling Abingdon Town tonight (7.30pm), if the Petersfield Park pitch has recovered from the latest bout of harsh weather.
Oldham admitted he has never known a season like this one. "We had one game called off six times alone," he said. "Our pitch usually drains well and we only have one or two off a season, but this season has been very frustrating and we are going to be playing Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday for the next few weeks after this one. We'll get through it and I'll probably give a few of the second-team lads a chance between now and the end of the season."
Oldham has warned his players not to expect an easy ride against Abingdon, who lie one place off the foot of the table. "They are fighting to stay up and in some ways it might be more difficult than our last game against Marlow, who are going win to the league," Oldham said. "We knew what to expect from them and everyone was concentrating, so I'll be telling them to make sure we don't show any complacency because we don't have a divine right to beat anyone and the players will know that."
Saracens beat Abingdon 4-0 in the FA Vase earlier in the season, but they are yet to meet them in the league. Jamie Hammond and Carl Griffiths would have missed Saturday's game but they are both back in the squad, but Sam Slender and Josh Swales both remain sidelined with injuries.
Oldham is still aiming for a top six finish, but with so many to catch up on he said he would be happy with a anything above ninth. Saracens lie 11th but have as many as six games in hand on the sides above them. "It's been a decent season and we want to finish as high as possible, so I want the lads up for every game," Oldham added.
Thrilled At Matching Best - 22 March
Gerry Oldham was thrilled to see his Cheltenham Saracens side show they can match the best the Premier Division of the Hellenic League has to offer in Wednesday night's 1-1 draw with Marlow.
Without leading scorer Ethan Moore who has joined Worcester City, skipper Mike Rhodes, the unavailable Mike Oliver and the injured Josh Swales, Saracens had to work hard to stop a run of bad results. They did not allow runaway leaders Marlow any space to play and it meant that they became frustrated as the game progressed. Marlow took the lead ten minutes before half-time from a penalty against Sam Slender for handball but Saracens came back strongly. It was not until the 70th minute when the visitors' goalkeeper dropped the ball from a corner and Slender scored from close range.
"I was really pleased with Wednesday because we showed the hunger I am looking for," Oldham said. "I know we can be more than a match for any side in this league and we showed that against Marlow, who will be happy with a point from the way the game went. We should have had two penalties and gone on to win."
Oldham praised midfield trio Lorcan Sheehan, Joe Donaghue and Jack Oldham for their performances He also thanks Cheltenham Civil Service FC manager Nick Lock for lending him central defender Rob Joynes, who stepped up three levels and produced an excellent display.
Saracens play Division One West side Brimscombe and Thrupp at home tomorrow in the quarter-finals of the Blufin Insurers Challenge League Cup. They will be without Jamie Hammond and Carl Griffiths, who are away and Slender (knee) is a doubt, but Mike Oliver and Mike Rhodes are due to return. "I have a lot of time for Brimscombe as a club and their manager Phil Baker, who has got them promoted virtually every year," Oldham said. "They do things properly and we'll be playing against them in the league next year as they're already guaranteed promotion. We'll have to be at our best to beat them, but we have the ability and as long as the desire is there we will have a good chance of progressing."
Sixth Place Still On Cards - 15 March
Cheltenham Saracens boss Gerry Oldham still has his eye on a Premier Division top six place as his side make the trip to Kidlington tomorrow.
They lie tenth, but they have as many as six games in hand on the clubs above them, with 13 Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division fixtures still to be squeezed in before the end of the campaign. They also have a League Cup quarter-final at home to Brimscombe and Thrupp a week tomorrow, but Oldham wants to reel in some of the clubs lying between them and a finish in the upper reaches of the table.
"We had a great start of the season and it's been tough since Christmas, but we are still well-placed," Oldham said. "If we can finish strongly it'll be a good season for us, so we want to kick on now and starting moving back up the table."
Oldham has been suffering with a chest infection this week, but he said he would be fine to make the trip to Oxfordshire tomorrow. The influential Sam Slender will return from a knee problem, but Josh Swales is sidelined with a knee injury of his own.
Oldham fully expects in-demand striker Ethan Moore to be in his squad at Kidlington, despite interest from several higher division clubs, and reports that he was going to Gloucester City. Oldham was not pleased with the way Gloucester City went about trying to sign the 20-year-old former Cheltenham Town professional. "Ethan will be training with Worcester City and playing for us on Saturday," Oldham said. "As far as I am concerned he is our player until the end of the season. It's important he moves to the right club, but even more crucial he plays for the right manager and I think Carl Heeley at Worcester is that man. When the time comes he will step up and play higher and we'll all be happy for him. He'll train with Worcester with a view to a permanent move, it's as simple as that."
Moore Moves? - 8 March
Striker Ethan Moore is in line to make his Gloucester City debut when Blue Square Bet North basement boys Hinckley United head to Whaddon Road tomorrow.
The one-time Cheltenham Town professional has been in prolific form for Cheltenham Saracens this term and is being trailed by a number of clubs from up the football pyramid. But Tigers boss Dave Mehew believes he holds the trump card in securing the former Aston Villa and Southampton trainee on a deal until the end of the season. "We're hoping to get the deal signed in time for Ethan to play on Saturday, I spoke with him yesterday and he'll come into the squad if that's done," Mehew said. "I've struck a deal with his agent and Ethan is keen to stay at home, play locally and look to prove himself at this level. We have two important games coming up against the bottom two – Hinckley and Droylsden – and we know if we win those its job done in terms of achieving safety again. Ethan won't have a chance to meet the players ahead of the game because we didn't train last night due to the long journey up to Boston. But he'll come straight in and he's got 13 games left to show what he's about and earn himself a contract."
Sara's Approached For Moore - 7 March
Cheltenham Saracens striker Ethan Moore (pictured) is expected to have talks with Blue Square Conference Gloucester City over the next few days.
City may be besieged by off-field problems, but far from waiting and worrying about matters over which he has no control, Manager Dave Mehew is already casting an eye ahead to next season with a move for former Cheltenham Town professional Moore. He has put in a seven-day approach for the Cheltenham Saracens striker and will be able to talk with him from today over a possible switch to City, and is hopeful of cutting a deal.
Mehew said earlier in the week: "We're not allowed to speak to Ethan until Thursday evening as Saracens have not come back to us, which is their prerogative. There has been a lot of talk about him and a number of sides have watched him, but we'll have to see what his thoughts are. We will give him a chance to show what he can do at Blue Square Bet North level and hopefully he will want that challenge.
Mark In History For Sara's - 1 March
The Saracen's manager has described tomorrow's GFA Challenge Trophy semi-final at Bristol Academy as one of the biggest games in Cheltenham Saracens' history.
The winners will take on either Bristol Manor Farm or Cadbury Heath in the final and Gerry Oldham's men are still chasing silverware on three fronts. They are in the last eight of both the League Cup and the Floodlit Cup, having edged out Highworth Town on penalties in the latter on Wednesday night. "It's always good to win on penalties and we've had four shoot-outs since I've been manager here and won them all," Oldham said. "This is now one of the biggest games we've had and we are all looking forward to it. If we concentrate and battle as we did against Highworth, our quality and football will come through."
Leading scorer Ethan Moore returns from suspension, but Sam Slender and Josh Swales are both doubtful with knee injuries and Mike Oliver is unavailable. Winger Owen Donaghue, who is on work experience from Cheltenham Town, is not eligible having featured in the Senior Cup for the Robins' reserve team.
Oldham had been looking to sign a big, ugly central defender to shore up his team's backline, but he has found the perfect candidate within his squad. "Spike Rhodes has been outstanding since I've him into defence," Oldham said. "I really rate him highly there and he's just what I needed, although I am sure he won't like me calling him ugly! He is calm, good in the air and his distribution is excellent. He has been leading by example and I'd say he's up there with the best at our level."
Oldham also praised Rhodes' commitment, with him often turning down work to ensure he is available for matches. "He works for himself as a delivery driver, but he misses work for football," Oldham said. "I wish all my players had his attitude, but I think he can play for six or seven years as a centre-half at this level. He is coming up to 30 now and his best position used to be in the centre of midfield, but I think he's best in defence now."
Great Expectations - 22 February
Gerry Oldham admits he may have been overly hard on his Cheltenham Saracens players in recent weeks.
The Petersfield Park club visit Slimbridge tomorrow, still well placed for a top six finish in the Hellenic League Premier Division. They are also still in three cup competitions, but Oldham finds it hard not to keep demanding more from his young team.
But, taking a step back, Oldham said they are doing him proud as they prepare for a hectic final three months to the campaign. "Sometimes I think I need to come down off my high horse because we are doing well and we don't have a budget, which a lot of the top teams in this league do," Oldham said. "I am always striving for better and I'll always be like that, but I probably expect too much of them. If the season ended now we could be happy, so stepping back we should be chuffed with what we've achieved in a short space of time. In April we have to travel to places like Wokingham, Marlow and Holyport and it's a big ask for these lads, who don't get paid anything."Saracens thrashed last season's champions Oxford City Nomads 5-1 last Saturday, but they went down 2-0 at home to third placed Wantage Town on Wednesday night and consistency is all Oldham wants to see more of. "We're a bit naive, that's all," he said. "We are lacking that know-how, but I need to be patient and let the lads mature and learn. Wantage were probably one of the best teams we've played this season and I can't have any complaints about the result and sometimes you have to hold your hand up."
Oldham has full respect for Slimbridge boss Leon Sterling and the job he has done at Wisloe Road, with the Swans currently lying fifth in the table. "They are a good side and they've had the upper hand against us in the past few years," he said. "We've had a couple of draws and a couple of defeats, so it's time we did the business against them really."
Josh Swales returns from suspension tomorrow, but Saracens will be without leading scorer Ethan Moore, who begins a two-match ban for a sending off. Jordan Bryan remains sidelined with injury, but Oldham has an otherwise fully fit squad from which to pick. Saracens play Highworth at home next Wednesday in the quarter-finals of the Floodlit Cup.
Frustrated Of Cheltenham- 15 February
Gerry Oldham was left frustrated yet again on Wednesday night as Saracens AM Print & Copy Floodlit Cup clash with Highworth Town was postponed. . . for the sixth time!
They already know who they will meet in the semi-finals if they progress through the next two rounds, but with the fixtures piling up fast, Oldham said he is desperate for the wet and wintry weather to finally ease. "We know we'll have Wantage in the quarter-finals if we win against Highworth and then Brimscombe in the semis, but we can't even get our last 16 played," Oldham said. "We've had 11 or 12 called off this season and it looks like we'll be playing up to four games a week for the rest of the year. They have extended the season by a week, but it's still going to be hectic and I know a lot of clubs are in the same boat, but it's not easy."
Saracens are due to play Oxford City Nomads at home tomorrow (3pm), but the Petersfield Park pitch is unlikely to be able to take much more rain without becoming waterlogged once again. Saracens have 17 Hellenic League fixtures to play and they are also in two other cup competitions, the League Cup and the GFA Trophy.
Their recent inactivity means Josh Swales and Carl Griffiths still have two of their suspensions to serve, but Oldham has no injury worries. "We are just desperate to get back on the pitch and we played well in our last, which was against a decent Hallen side in the GFA Trophy. "We haven't quite been able to take our chances against the top sides in our league, but Hallen are doing well in the Western League and that should give us confidence to take into the rest of our games."
Oldham is hopeful leading marksman Ethan Moore will remain with Saracens until the end of the season, despite his goalscoring exploits alerting the attention of several higher level clubs. "I think Ethan needs a full season under his belt," Oldham said. "He should be playing higher and he will. But he's still not playing to his full potential with us."
Just The Tonic - 8 February
The feel-good factor has returned to Cheltenham Saracens after their GFA Trophy quarter-final victory over Hallen on Wednesday night, according to boss Gerry Oldham.
After a goalless 90 minutes, Oldham's side prevailed 6-5 on penalties to bounce back from last Saturday's 4-0 home league defeat by Binfield. They now face Bristol Academy in the semi-finals. Goalkeeper Ryan Betteridge was the hero, saving two spot-kicks in the shoot-out. Joe Donaghue, Lorcan Sheehan, Ethan Moore and Luke Tovey all converted from 12 yards after Harlie Price had missed the opener. It was left to Jack Oldham to hold his nerve and dispatch the winning sudden death spot-kick and Oldham senior said it was exactly what his team needed.
"It was a really good game and a total contrast to Saturday," Oldham said. "We showed movement, energy and our passing was good. It was a pleasing performance and it was a different changing room after the game. The lads were suddenly upbeat again and it proves that winning is the best medicine."
Saracens were due to play Witney tonight in the Hellenic League Premier Division, but the match has been called off. Witney now share with Carterton, who are at home tomorrow and the pitch is not able to cope with two matches in 48 hours, so Saracens' fixture will be rescheduled. They will next take to the field at home to Highworth next Wednesday in the Floodlit Cup. Oldham said: "I was hoping to arrange a training session for Saturday, but because we were due to play on Friday a lot of the lads have already made plans, so we'll give them the day off. I was feeling depressed after the Binfield game, but taking a step back we are still having a good season. We have games in hand on three or four of the teams above us and we are still in two cup competitions, so we'll rest and refresh and then do our best to progress in the Floodlit Cup next week."
Saracens lie tenth in the table after 21 matches. Their next league fixture is at home to last season's champions Oxford City Nomads a week tomorrow.
Vigorous Saracens - 1 February
Cheltenham Saracens players return from their 'mid-winter break' with renewed vigour against Binfield in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division tomorrow.
Saracens have not played a game since their 3-2 home win against Reading Town on January 5, meaning that they have gone nearly a month without tasting action. They were due to play 17th-placed Holyport last Saturday but continual weather problems made it difficult.
But manager Gerry Oldham is optimistic about his players returning to action at Peterfield Park tomorrow (3pm)."I haven't really had the chance to see much of the players or watch them train much either because of the weather," he said. "I know my players and they'll all come back hungry and refreshed with their eagerness to play as they haven't played a match in a while."
Binfield will pose a testing examination of Saracens' abilities, having risen to as high as fourth in the Hellenic League Premier Division after a superb run of form. But with Saracens still capable of rising to as high as sixth place if they were to win their games in hand, Oldham is doubly keen to get going again. "It is frustrating to miss games but everyone else is in the same position, so you've just got to get on with it really," Oldham said. "Hopefully in the next week or so the weather will be better so we can get on with playing football." I'm not worried at all about Binfield. All I'm concerned with is how we play. On our day we can beat anybody so we are mentally prepared for the game. If we can beat one of the top-four sides then it's a good achievement for us and what it will do is give us three points to get to where we want to be and that's in the top six."
Sara's Doubts - 18 January
Expected weather conditions have put a doubt over whether Cheltenham Saracens will play their first league game in almost two weeks.
Saracens, who currently lie in ninth place in the Hellenic League Premier Division, have not managed to play a league game since their 3-2 win against Reading Town on Saturday, January 5.
Boss Gerry Oldham said that if the game does beat the bad weather, then a tough test is expected. "It will be really tough as Marlow are 11 points clear of second placed Slimbridge, but it should be a fun and entertaining game and we are looking to win and not sit back," he said. "I'm really looking forward to the game and a few of the lads are excited as well."
But excitement is mixed with frustration for the Saracens boss, as he contemplates another annoying weekend free from football. "It's really frustrating, we prepare properly for a game then it's called off," he said."Hopefully Marlow's pitch is in better condition so we can play."
Togetherness? - 11 January
Gerry Oldham praised the togetherness of his Cheltenham Saracens squad after three players sent off, they then held out to win 3-2 with eight men against Reading Town.
They were 2-0 up when a 22-man brawl resulted in the dismissal of Josh Swales and Carl Griffiths, while Jordan Bryan was also sent off for kicking the ball away. Immediately after play resumed Saracens extended their lead to 3-0 from the penalty spot and they were then forced to defend for their lives.They conceded twice, but survived to register their 11th Hellenic League Premier Division win of the season.
"I don't condone what happened at all and we are going to have three players suspended now, but at least it showed we are all in together and the players care," Oldham said. "With eight men it was obviously a backs to the wall job, but we held on well."
Saracens play Wokingham and Emmbrook at home tomorrow (3pm), starting a busy period of seven games in 20 days. They will start the game a point ahead of their visitors, who have lost three games in a row. But they boast one of the best defensive records in the league and Oldham wants to see his front players break down a stubborn backline.
"They are a young side like ourselves, but they don't concede many," Oldham said. "Their manager Roger Heritage is a nice guy who has done a good job with limited resources, so I am looking forward to taking him on. It's all about us and our attitude, so hopefully the players show they want it enough again."
Ethan Moore's goal against Reading took his tally to 31, 20 of which have come in the league. Oldham is keen to retain the services of the former Aston Villa youth player. "Ethan is still not quite where he should be and I really feel he needs to stay," Oldham said. "I am not just saying that because I want to keep him, I think he is enjoying it, scoring goals and playing with confidence at the moment. He needs to be starting every week and if he goes somewhere else and isn't doing that, it will knock him back. He's the top scorer in the league by four goals and is on course to score more than 40. If he does that and we stop a few going in, we'll finish in a decent position in the table."
Saracens will be without striker Nick Hill for the rest of the season. The former Bredon man is going to Australia for six months. The return of Pat Sayce from injury has helped balance Oldham's options, with Jack Oldham also back in action for the reserve team after long term injury. Sayce is set to feature tomorrow as a substitute.
Commitment Focus - 4 January
More commitment is required from the Cheltenham Saracens team to avoid a season of promise ending in anti-climax.
It was a disappointing festive period for Saracens, who lost 3-2 at home to local rivals Slimbridge on Boxing Day before going down 3-0 at Ascot last Saturday. They lie tenth in the Hellenic Premier Division ahead of tomorrow's home match against Reading Town and Gerry Oldham does not want to see hopes of a top six finish fade.
"Some of the lads seem to have lost their hunger and desire and they need to get it back quickly," Oldham said. "There are five or six lads who are there every week and I know I can rely on them, but some of the others need to show me they want it or I will be taking a harder line with them."
Saracens have 20 Hellenic League games left along with remaining interest in three cup competitions. "I have been here for eight years and this is by far the best squad we've had, but I need them all back in line if we are going to achieve anything this season," he said. "We went to Ascot and didn't perform so it was a long journey and a waste of time really. I can see why managers get sacked because it's down to the players and they have to want it. We have the players here, but they know how I feel about things."
Reading are fourth from bottom in the table and Oldham wants an improved defensive display after shipping six goals in two outings."We need to stop letting goals in," he said. "Reading drew with Slimbridge the other week so are capable of upsetting us if we don't perform."
Top Goal Man Doubtful - 28 December
Leading scorer Ethan Moore is a doubt for Cheltenham Saracens Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division trip to Ascot United tomorrow.
Moore picked up an ankle injury in the 3-2 Boxing Day home defeat by local rivals Slimbridge.
Boss Gerry Oldham expects the former Cheltenham Town striker to want to play through the pain, but he may take the decision out of his hands."Ethan picked up an ankle knock, which is very annoying, but he is the type of lad who wants to play every game," Oldham said. "But I might have to take him out for a game to avoid making it worse."
Saracens look the lead against second-placed Slimbridge through Carl Griffiths, but the Swans hit back to lead 2-1. Jamie Hammond levelled, but a late goalkeeping mistake from Ryan Betteridge gifted Slimbridge their winner, leaving Oldham disappointed with the result, but not the performance.
"On chances we should have won the game and there is no way we deserved to lose," he said. "The lads have not played for two and a half weeks and their attitude was great and they gave me everything. Ryan dropped a long-range shot, but he's been outstanding for me so I won't blame him at all."
Saracens have shown plenty of promise this term, but they have come up short against the leading sides and Oldham believes it could be in the mind. "We can't seem to beat the top three or four sides and I think it is a mental thing at the minute," he said. "We were on top for half an hour and if we'd been playing against lower opposition I am sure we'd have scored a few more, but I am pleased with them and there was nothing in it."
Oldham welcomes Luke Tovey back after three weeks out with a broken hand. Pat Sayce, Jack Oldham and Joe Donaghue are all due back in the next two or three weeks.
Oldham Hopes Game Will Be Played - 21 December
Saracens last two fixtures fell victim to the wet weather, manager Oldham is hopeful tomorrow's trip to struggling Abingdon Town will go ahead. They play promotion-chasing Slimbridge at home on Boxing Day before tackling Reading Town on January 5.
They have won their last two Hellenic League matches, with leading scorer Ethan Moore firing in four goals in the 4-3 victory at Flackwell Heath on December 8. Oldham is targeting a top-six finish and he is also keen to reach at least one final of the three knockout competitions Saracens are still involved in.
He believes the attitude of the players will be all-important. "I think the next four or five games will shape the rest of our season," Oldham said. "At the end of January we'll have a pretty good idea of how our season is shaping up, both in the league and the cups."
Saracens are in the quarter-finals of both the Hellenic League Cup and the County Cup. They are due to play Highworth in the last 16 of the Floodlit Cup, but the tie has been postponed twice. "We have a lot of games coming up, so I need as many players fit and available," Oldham said. "It's all about how badly they want it now I think and if they show enough desire we can achieve something this season."
Saracens trained at Hartpury College last night in preparation for tomorrow's game, but Oldham said it was a light session. "We have a few players out and a few have niggles, but I am sure every club is the same at this stage of a season," he said. "I don't like to moan about injuries because I trust the players who step in when others aren't available and that's why it's so important to have a squad, rather than just a team."
Sam Slender and Joe Donaghue remain injury doubts, while long-term absentees Pat Sayce and Jack Oldham are definitely out.
*A flood alert was issued yesterday for the River Thames through Abingdon. The alert applies along the river southwards to Little Wittenham. Abingdon Town's ground is along this stretch of the river, check this site for any announcements before travelling to watch the game.
Standing Up For Themselves - 14 December
Maturing Cheltenham Saracens have proved they can stand up to bully-boy tactics in league action, believes impressed manager Gerry Oldham.
Saracens host Wantage Town in Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division action tomorrow (kick-off 3pm), keen to avenge their 5-0 away defeat earlier in the campaign. Boss Oldham hailed Saracens' battling 4-3 win over Flackwell Heath last weekend, praising his young charges for holding out under a second-half barrage. Prolific striker Ethan Moore blasted all four Saracens goals in the first half , then the hosts hit back with three after the turnaround.
Oldham believes his players showed new-found drive, though, and has now called on them to repeat the feat in order to see off Wantage. He said: "I saw characteristics from my team they hadn't really shown before this season, they showed that they won't be bullied, and that was fantastic. We were four goals ahead at half-time, but then they came back very strongly. The good news is they came through extremely well, they held out, they didn't shirk any headers or tackles, and they really made a fight of it. We went there with 13 players, one of them the goalkeeper, because of injuries, but the lads rolled up their sleeves and got the job done. The challenge now will be to repeat that kind of concentration level against Wantage tomorrow. They beat us 5-0 a few weeks back, but in all honesty that flattered them. We had chances ourselves that we didn't take, and it would be great for us to make amends this time around."
Sweating on the fitness of Joe Donaghue, Oldham said Sam Slender is expected to miss out this weekend. While in-form former Cheltenhan Town striker Moore keeps racking up the goals, his manager said strike partner Elliott Kennedy is equally important to the Saracens side. Oldham added: "Ethan is playing very well. His runs off the ball are very threatening and the other lads really know where to put the ball for him. It's not just his finishing either, his build-up and link play are great too. But plenty of the other boys are in good form too, and in fact Elliott Kennedy, his forward partner, has probably been one of our best players so far this season."
Praise For Young Players - 7 December
Cheltenham's young guns received praise, progressing to the quarter-finals of the Gloucestershire County Cup with a penalty shoot-out victory over Rockleaze Rangers.
They fell 2-0 down at Petersfield Park before goals from Ethan Moore and Spike Rhodes ensured the tie went the distance. Leading marksman Moore, Josh Swales and Lorcan Sheehan kept their nerve from the spot as Saracens eased to a 3-0 victory, with only Nick Hill unsuccessful from 12 yards. But Hill was part of a back four with an average age of less than 19, along with Swales, Jordan Bryan and Ben Tunnicliff.
"Rockleaze were a typical County League side, big and strong and they work hard," Manager Gerry Oldham said. "I was really pleased with the way we responded to falling 2-0 down because we didn't panic, we kept passing the ball and maintained our composure. It was a good experience for my young players, particularly the defence, with two 18-year-olds and two 19-year-olds."
Oldham said only a series of missed chances prevented Saracens enjoying an easier passage into the last eight. Goalkeeper Tim Griffiths made one save during the shoot-out, with Rangers missing the target twice.
Saracens can make it to the quarter-finals of another cup next week, with a Floodlit Cup game against Highworth Town. Oldham's objectives for the season are to win one of the three knockout competitions they are still competing in and claim a top six place in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division.
They travel to Buckinghamshire side Flackwell Heath tomorrow. "The league is our priority and I am confident we can finish in the top six because we are doing well and we have games in hand on a lot of other sides," Oldham said. "I think it's a season to early to be thinking about the top three because we are a young side and there can't be many younger in our league. Sometimes experience shows when we play some of the leading teams, but we have so much potential, energy and pace. It's all about our attitude now and I want to see more of the lads making themselves available every game and more commitment and we'll fulfil that potential."
Pat Sayce and Jack Oldham remain sidelined with long-term injuries, but Oldham has an otherwise fully-fit squad from which to choose.
All Will Feature - 30 November
Gerry Oldham will give every player in his first-team squad a run-out in one of Cheltenham Saracens' cup double-header in the next five days.
They play Penn and Tylers Green in the Hellenic League Cup third round tomorrow before hosting Rockleaze in a County Cup fixture next Wednesday.
After losing their last two matches to the weather, Oldham believes the enforced break will have done his players good, but he wants to ensure they are back up to speed before the league clash at Flackwell Heath a week tomorrow.
"We have had two games postponed, but we are confident this one is going to be on," Oldham said. "We've not been able to train because we train at Hartpury and the road there has been flooded. In a way I am glad we've had this breather because we've had a lot of matches since starting the friendlies in July and it's been like a mini mid-season break. The lads will hopefully come back fresh and a few niggles will have cleared up."
Saracens are still involved in three knockout competitions, with the Floodlit Cup still to look forward to as well, and Oldham wants to go as far as he can in all of them.
"There is a place in the quarter-finals up for grabs tomorrow and now we are in the Premier Division I am confident we can do well in all the cups," he said. "I'll be putting out strong sides for the next two games and people like Andy Crosskey, Leigh Rayson and Spike Rhodes just need to improve their match fitness now having returned. We are having a good season, but I know we can do better and I'd say we are only at about 65 per cent of what we are capable of at the moment."
Long-term absentees Pat Sayce and Jack Oldham remain sidelined, but everyone else is available. "Pat and Jack should be back in two to three weeks," Oldham said.
Live With The Best - 23 November
Saracens boss Gerry Oldham wants his side to show they can live with the best as they welcome leaders Marlow to Petersfield Park tomorrow (3pm).
Saracens have slipped to tenth in the table, but they have a game in hand on all but one of the teams above them. Their home match against Newbury fell victim to the wet weather on Wednesday night and Oldham knows they need to make up ground if they are to remain in the hunt for a top-three place.
"So far this season when we've played teams like Witney and Ardley who were at the top, we've not been able to get a result," Oldham said. "We want to put that record straight and when we manage to beat a team like Marlow, that's when we can seriously think about reaching the top three. The table doesn't lie and Marlow are the best side in the division at the moment, but I know we can give anyone a game."
Oldham will name the same squad that would have faced Newbury, with Pat Sayce and Jack Oldham the only players sidelined through injuries. Andy Crosskey will have another game for the reserve team tomorrow before Oldham considers him for the first-team squad after a long spell out with injury.
"It'll be like having a new signing when Andy is back," he said. "He's fitter than I thought he'd be considering he hasn't had a pre-season."
Oldham praised forward Elliott Kennedy for his influence in recent weeks, with the former Cleeve man having a big say in Saracens' goal threat. "If he isn't scoring goals, he's setting them up," Oldham said. "He's a quality player, who doesn't like losing and he has the right attitude. He has a lot of pace and most of our goals in recent matches have had something to do with Elliott."
Confidence Still High - 16 November
Last Saturday's 5-0 thumping at the hands of Wantage Town has not swayed Gerry Oldham's confidence in his Cheltenham Saracens side's ability to mix it at the top of the Uhlsport Hellenic League.
Despite last week's hammering at Alfredian Park, Oldham was content with the level of his side's performance, but rued a number of crucial individual errors."It was just one of those days, we had a lot of the ball and their keeper has had to make two very good saves and then two individual errors have killed us," he said. "We didn't play badly, performance wise there were signs for encouragement but after we went a couple of goals down the heads went down a bit. I still have every confidence in these players, we've won more games that we've lost and if we can win our game in hand we are back in the top six again."
Saracens welcome Holyport to Petersfield Park tomorrow (3pm) with Oldham calling on his side to bounce back to form with a positive result. With Saracens struggling for consistency, having won eight and lost six in the Hellenic Premier Division, Oldham believes a change in mental approach may work wonders among his squad.
"We don't do drawn games, we either win by four or five goals or lose by the same margin," Oldham said. "We'll be fine in the long run, although we were gutted by the actual result against Wantage our performance wasn't that bad, we just couldn't get the goal when we were on top. We know there are no easy games in this division. If our mind is on the job, then I am certain that we can get a decent result. The lads don't panic when we go behind, they just lose focus on the job in hand. If we go a goal up then I know that we have it in us to go on and win the game. But if we go a goal down then the mindset changes, they stop playing simple balls, and start knocking long balls. If we can get that out of our systems then I know we will go on to be a really good side at this level because we create so many chances. We just need to remain patient."
Chance For Title Push - 9 November
Gerry Oldham is looking at tomorrow's trip to Wantage Town as a chance for his Cheltenham Saracens side to re-ignite their title push.
A victory at Alfredian Park would take Saracens to within two points of third-placed Wantage and Oldham's men have a game in hand on most of their rivals. They made progress in the Bluefin Insurance League Cup last week with a victory at Old Woodstock Town and Oldham hopes they have put a blip in results firmly behind them.
"We are still in three cup competitions and it was good to win at Old Woodstock because it's never easy going to a team from a league below because they were up for it," Oldham said. "We had nine players unavailable, but four or five lads from the reserves came in and we changed a few positions around, which paid off. I now have another headache picking my team for Wantage, but we'll have to be at our best to win there because they are going well. Hopefully we can get a result and that would put us right back in the mix."
Oldham has been handed an unexpected boost with the news that key man Andy Crosskey may soon be available after a long-term groin injury. He is waiting to see a specialist over a problem that has kept him sidelined since the end of last season. But he is due to play for the reserves tomorrow and Oldham hopes he can return to first team action when his fitness levels improve.
"Andy turned up to watch last week and ended up coming on for ten or 15 minutes, which is a massive bonus for me because he is a top player at this level," Oldham said. "He's still got to see a specialist, but he feels he can do a job in the meantime and we'll be happy to have him back."
Spike Rhodes and Sam Slender are both back after missing the Old Woodstock trip, while the likes of Harlie Price and Joe Bermingham have given Oldham food for thought having performed well after stepped up from the reserves last week.
Reserves Call Up - 3 November
Saracens will be forced to call on reserve team members for today's Hellenic League Challenge Cup sponsored by Bluefin Sports Insurance.
Gerry Oldham's squad have been hit by a spate of injuries and he is also without Sam Slender and Spike Rhodes, who are both away. Leigh Rayson, Jack Oldham, Joe Donaghue, Lorcan Sheehan and Pat Sayce are all struggling with knocks. So Oldham will hand midfield pair Stuart Davies and Harlie Price a chance to impress at Old Woodstock Town.
"We have loads of injuries, but this is why we have a reserve team and it's so important to be able to use the squad," Oldham said. "Harlie has come in and done well before so I am hoping to get him more involved in the first team."
Oldham was pleased to see Saracens bounce back from successive defeats with a 4-1 home win over Kidlington in the Premier Division last week. The goals came from leading scorer Ethan Moore, Rhodes, Sheehan and Slender. "We played well and did exactly what we planned to do," Oldham said. We could have easily won by seven or eight, but the whole team delivered and it was good to end our first mini blip of the season and hopefully we can kick on from here."
Rhodes' absence is a major blow for Oldham, who is keen for the midfielder to regain full fitness after undergoing surgery to remove kidney stones. The former Cheltenham Town youth and Bishop's Cleeve man is regarded by Oldham as one of his best-ever signings and he knows Rhodes will have an important role to play for Saracens this term.
"Spike played a couple of games for the reserves and we then brought him into the first team last week and he scored with one of his only touches of the game, which tells you everything you need to know about him," Oldham said. "He needs to play matches, but he's one of my best ever signings here and I have signed a lot of players. He may have lost a bit of interest while he was out, so we need to get his hunger back, but everything is okay with his kidneys now so that's good news."
Must Win Fixture - 26 October
Tomorrow's home match against Kidlington is a 'must-win game', according to Cheltenham Saracens boss Gerry Oldham. Saracens have slipped to ninth in the Hellenic League Premier Division table after suffering back-to-back defeats for the first time this season. They were beaten 5-0 by Ardley United and then went down 2-1 at Binfield last Saturday.
Oldham was pleased with the performance against Binfield, but two individual errors cost his side dear. "We played well, but we lost concentration and found ourselves 2-0 down," Oldham said. "We then pulled one back through Elliott Kennedy, Ethan Moore hit the post and we had a strong penalty appeal turned down. I think we were the better side overall, but the silly errors cost us and we need to cut them out, but I was happy with the performance. There was no pressure on the players who made the mistakes and we need to react a bit quicker in certain situations."
Kidlington lie fourth from bottom, but Oldham has warned his players not to take them lightly as they bid to end their first blip of the season. "We were poor against Ardley, but Binfield was okay," he said. "We have still lost two in a row though, so it is a blip. And that's why this is a must-win game for us if we want to stay in the pack. We have to pick things up and go again and Kidlington's league position means nothing."
Saracens welcome back Lorcan Sheehan, but Pat Sayce is still sidelined with a hamstring injury. Oldham has an otherwise fully-fit squad from which to choose.
Massive Blow - 19 October
Boss of Saracens Gerry Oldham has described an injury to influential midfielder Pat Sayce as a "massive blow".
Sayce sustained a hamstring injury in Saracens' GFA Challenge Trophy first-round tie victory over Fairford Town. He has already been ruled out of Saracens' match at Binfield in the Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division tomorrow.
Oldham fears Sayce, who can play anywhere across midfield, could be sidelined for a minimum of three weeks. "He went in for a ball and his hamstring went," said Oldham. "It's a massive blow because he's been playing really well and he's an important part of what we do. I think he'll be out for three to four weeks, but it could be a lot longer."
Oldham was pleased with the overall performance of his troops in the 2-0 victory over Fairford, Jamie Hammond and the prolific marksman Ethan Moore netting the goals. Lorcan Sheehan, who produced a commanding display in defence, is unavailable tomorrow.
Oldham said: "We played well and worked hard against Fairford. They are a tough side to beat on their own patch, but the football we played was good. We expected a tough game, but at the same time I like to think we're capable of winning every game we play. Binfield are a decent side but it's more about what we do and focusing on our game."
Turn Tables – 12 October
Gerry Oldham has challenged his Cheltenham Saracens players to prove Tuesday night's 5-0 setback at Ardley United was a one-off as they prepare to meet the same opponents at home in the FA Vase tomorrow.
Oldham (pictured) accused his players of "not turning up" as they suffered their fourth Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division defeat of the season, dropping to seventh in the table.
Saracens mustered only one serious attempt on goal in 90 minutes, which Oldham said was uncharacteristic of a team who had won 5-0 in their previous league fixture. "It was not like us because we normally create ten or 15 chances in every match," Oldham said. "The only player to come out of the game with any credit was our goalkeeper Ryan Betteridge because without him they could have had three more. We didn't turn up and we have to take it on the chin and move on because they beat us fair and square and there are no excuses for how we played."
Saracens have reached the first round proper of the Vase for the first time in their history and Oldham is targeting the £900 prize money at stake, but more importantly he says his players must restore pride against Ardley, who moved above them in the table on Tuesday night.
"We have to show it was a one-off on Tuesday and put it right now," he said. "It was men against boys at times so we need to regain bragging rights because that doesn't usually happy to my team."
Ben Tunnicliff is an injury doubt, but Ryan Paddock is back and will be available until February, when he will join the Army. Jamie Hammond has become a father and will miss the game, while Jack Oldham will be given a run-out in the reserve team to improve his match fitness after injury.
"We've never been this far in the Vase before so I am looking forward to it," Oldham senior said. "I don't mind losing games, but I am annoyed by the way we lost on Tuesday and I want a massive reaction."
Saracens are believed to have made a seven-day approach for Gloucester City midfielder Matt Liddiard.
Silverware On All Fronts - 5 October
Cheltenham Saracens will bid to continue their hunt for silverware on all fronts as they take on Finchampstead at home in the Bluefin Insurers Hellenic Challenge Cup tomorrow.
Gerry Oldham's men lie third in the Hellenic League Premier Division table and they have already made progress in the FA Vase and the Floodlit Cup. After a 5-0 win at Highmoor Ibis last Saturday, Oldham will rest several of his regular players against their Division One East opponents at Petersfield Park. Young goalkeeper James Andrews will be handed a first start, with long-serving Ryan Betteridge given the afternoon off. Recent signing Andy Venning will also start along with Jamie Hammond, who is working his way back to full fitness after injury. Lorcan Sheehan is away, while Ryan Paddock is unavailable and Jack Oldham is injured.
Oldham senior is keen for Saracens to continue their winning form as they aim for the most successful season. "Winning is a habit so we want to keep it going," he said. We want to go as far as we can in all competitions so we will do for everything. We have a big enough squad to give a few lads a game and still be strong."
Oldham watched his first team take part in a mixed training match involving second and youth team players on Wednesday night. He said the talent progressing through the ranks at Saracens is exciting.
"Saracen's have so many good kids, who all feel a part of what we are trying to do," he said. Oldham has been particularly pleased with the impact of 19-year-old former Bredon front man Nick Hill."He's going to be a hell of a player, He is big and strong with good feet and he can finish."
Squad Strength - 28 September
Cheltenham Saracens boss Gerry Oldham has hailed the strength of his squad after Wednesday night's 2-0 Floodlit Cup victory over New College Academy.
A brace from Jamie Hammond took Saracens through to the third round and Oldham was able to rest several key players and still watch his team perform well.
"We left five or six players out, but the strength of the squad showed," Oldham said. "We had young lads coming in and they all acquitted themselves well and we played some good football on a good surface. Harlie Price did well and he's one for the future, but we'll have to be patient with him. Dave Herbert came on for his debut and did all right and I played Jordan Bryan out of position at right-back and he did well."
Oldham also praised the performance of veteran goalkeeper Ryan Betteridge, who was an experienced head in a youthful Saracens side. "He was superb, from his decision-making and handling to his distribution," Oldham said.
Saracens return to Hellenic League Premier Division action tomorrow as they visit Highmoor Ibis. Four goals from Ethan Moore earned them a 7-3 victory when the sides met at Petersfield Park earlier in the season, but Oldham is not expecting a easy ride as they travel to the Palmer Park Stadium in Reading.
"Everything we hit went in that day, but they are a better side than that scoreline suggests," Oldham added. "They have drawn with Witney at home and they are not a bad side, so we are expecting a tough game."
Oldham will recall Moore, Carl Griffiths and Elliott Kennedy after all three were given a midweek break. But Ryan Paddock has decided to join the Army and Oldham is resigned to losing the central defender. "It will be a big loss for us, but Ben Tunnicliff is a more than adequate replacement and we have cover and options in every position," he said.
Saracens lie fifth in the table with 19 points from ten matches and they have won four of their last five League games. "We've never been this high before and I still think there is more to come," Oldham continued. "I don't see any reason why we can't finish in our highest position as long as we keep the attitude we have been this season, we'll get the rewards. I have said it before and I'll repeat myself, it's all about us and I am not worried about any other teams in this division."
Ruthless Saracens -17 September
Cheltenham Saracens canter into the third qualifying round of the FA Vase in spectacular style when they hammered Shrivenham 4-0 playing away at The Rec.
Michael McNally’s Shrivenham were up against it from the off and never recovered, with the Saracens rearguard holding firm throughout.
Goals from Ryan Paddock, Elliott Kennedy, Jordan Bryan and a customary strike from Ethan Moore were enough for Saracens, who had enough chances to win by a far greater margin.
Sara's manager Gerry Oldham decided to ring the changes with Andew Venning and Harley Price both sent on for Saracens debuts.
And Moore was not to be denied his regular goal, the former Cheltenham Town professional calmly dispatching a shot into the roof of the net after another defence-splitting pass from Lorcan Sheehan.
Saracens Sign England Schoolboy Star - 14 September
Cheltenham Saracens have signed Hartpury College student Andrew Venning and the attacking midfielder will go straight into the squad for tomorrow's FA Vase second qualifying round tie at Shrivenham.
The 18-year-old from Bridgwater (pictured left) has won England Under-18s schools caps, taking part in the Centenary Shield last season. He will be on the bench tomorrow, with boss Gerry Oldham happy to have brought in another option, with several players still sidelined. Former Bredon front man Nick Hill stood on a nail last Friday and is ruled out, while Jack Oldham and Spike Rhodes remain unavailable with injuries and Jamie Hammond and Pat Sayce will undergo late fitness tests.
Oldham admitted he is frustrated not to have been able to name an unchanged team at any point so far this season, but the depth of his squad means Saracens lie third after eight Hellenic League Premier Division fixtures. "I am not too worried about the injuries because we have enough quality in the squad to cope, but it is frustrating not to have named the same back four for two games in a row this season," Oldham said. "We are a bit short in midfield so we've brought in Andrew. It's nice to have a break from the league and there is £750 prize money up for grabs if we win, which would be massive for the club and we've already had £550 for the first qualifying round win."
Saracens hit back from a goal down to defeat Shrivenham 2-1 in their league meeting a fortnight ago. "Shrivenham are a strong side and they will be hard to break down, but once again it's all about us," Oldham said. "If we are on our game, we don't have to worry about any other teams in our league and so we have to make sure we perform and we have a good chance of going through. All the teams in this competition are of our sort of standard and if we get through we have Ardley at home, but we will not think about that one until we've got this weekend's match out of the way."
Youth team goalkeeper James Andrews has been called into the senior squad for the first time.
Kennedy Rejects Shortwood - 7 September
Cheltenham Saracens forward, Elliott Kennedy has turned down a move to Evo-Stik Southern League Division One Shortwood United.
'Wood' put in seven days' notice for the former Birmingham City youngster and Bishop's Cleeve man, but he has decided to remain at Saracens for their Hellenic League Premier Division campaign.
"Elliott has been our best player in the last few games since he returned from suspension," Sara's manager Gerry Oldham said. "He's an infectious lad and I've known him since he was an Under-eight player. He's been one of my better signings here and he turned down Shortwood, which is pleasing. They are a division above us, but the grass isn't always greener and we are not far behind them now."
Saracens travel to Reading Town tomorrow aiming to build on Wednesday night's 2-1 victory over Shrivenham which lifted them to sixth in the table. They trailed with 15 minutes remaining, but Kennedy levelled and Ethan Moore's ninth goal in five matches stole the points for Oldham's men "We were not at our best, but we showed character against a big, strong side who made it difficult for us," Oldham said.
Former Cheltenham Town professional Moore's goalscoring form has also attracted interest from other clubs, but he has turned down a switch to Swindon Supermarine. Oldham is keen keep him at Petersfield Park until at least Christmas as he regains full fitness after nine months out of action following his departure from Cheltenham Town. "I have been honest with Ethan and he is flourishing here," Oldham said. "He will get better and better the more he plays after so long out. I know him well and I think I know how to get the best out of him."
Tomorrow's opponents Reading lie rock bottom of the table, with seven defeats from seven games. "We have to be careful because they are going to pick up their first points at some time and we don't want that to be against us," Oldham said.
Jamie Hammond, Pat Sayce and Jack Oldham all remain sidelined with injury, but there is positive news regarding Spike Rhodes, whose operation to remove kidney stones has been a success.
The central midfielder is due to back in around a month, by which time Oldham believes he will have enough quality available to finish in the upper reaches of the division.
"We need to stay in the top six until Christmas and we can kick on from there," he said."When I have everyone back I'll have a few selection problems, but I love that.The bench is already strong and we have made substitutions who have made a difference when they've gone on, so it's all looking good and I am just after more of the same from the lads now."
Leave Him Alone Until Xmas - 31 August
Saracen's Gerry Oldham's phone has been red-hot with managers enquiring about their hot-shot striker Ethan Moore.
But the message is clear . . . 'Leave him alone until Christmas'. Moore (pictured), a former Cheltenham Town professional, has netted six goals in three appearances for Saracens, including four on his debut against Highmoor Ibis. But Oldham believes he needs time to regain full match sharpness after missing the whole of last season following his departure from the Robins.
"I've had every manager and his dog ringing me and asking about Ethan, but I have told them to leave him alone until he's back to full fitness," Oldham said. "He needs to play games and if he goes higher, he's likely to be on the bench because he's not fit enough at the moment. He's done well, he is keen to play and he has got his hunger back."
Oldham wants Saracens to make it third time lucky in their quest to reach the second round of the FA Carlsberg Vase as they take on Abingdon Town tomorrow. They have been ousted at the first hurdle in both previous attempts and as well as a chance to progress in a prestigious competition, a win tomorrow would be worth £500 to the Petersfield Park club.
Saracens have made a strong start to the new Hellenic League Premier Division season, sitting fifth after six matches. They defeated Thame United 4-2 at home on Monday and Oldham has been pleased to see his side show some consistency as key players return to fitness. "If we'd cut out the silly mistakes we could be even higher in the table, but we've done well in the last two games and not panicked when we've gone behind," Oldham said. "We have a few things to work on in training, but going forward we've been fantastic."
Lorcan Sheehan is unavailable tomorrow, while Jack Oldham (Achilles) and Pay Sayce (groin) are both struggling.
Full Concentration Required - 24 August
Cheltenham Saracens must quickly learn to concentrate for 90 minutes according to boss Gerry Oldham.
They were beaten 4-1 at Highworth Town on Tuesday night, conceding four times before Ethan Moore netted his fifth goal in two games late on. Ahead of tomorrow's trip to last season's Uhlsport Hellenic League champions Oxford City Nomads, Oldham has called for more discipline from his team, who allowed Highworth's roughhouse tactics to unsettle them.
"Highworth were a bit older than us and far more physical," he said. "They wound us up and we fell for it, showing a lack of maturity and we must concentrate for 90 minutes. The best way to answer people winding you up is to put the ball in the back of the net, but our lads showed their lack of experience. They were probably the worst team we've played so far football-wise, but they were strong and we didn't turn up."
Oldham will be without skipper Sam Slender tomorrow, while Ryan Paddock faces a late fitness test due to a toe problem and Spike Rhodes is still out as he awaits a kidney operation. Joe Donaghue is expected to be fit, while Nick Hill will be added to the squad after a run out for the reserves in their midweek win over Stroud. Elliott Kennedy serves the last of his five-match ban.
"Oxford City Nomads are a good side and every game will be hard this season," Oldham said. "We have to be up for it and I am not worried because I know we are capable of doing well, but we have to find more consistency."
Saracens have won two and lost two, scoring ten and conceding ten so far. They are at home to Thame United on Bank Holiday Monday.
Touch Missing - 10 August
Saracens boss Gerry Oldham says all that is missing from his side is their goalscoring touch after they went down 2-0 at home to Ardley United in their opening Uhlsport Hellenic League Premier Division match of the season.
Oldham was pleased with the overall performance against a side fancied to be among the front-runners this term, but he said Saracens should have been three or four goals up at the break. "I am bored of saying it, but we are creating loads of chances and not finishing them off," said Oldham. "I'd be more worried if we weren't creating chances at all and we had seven good ones against Ardley. We took them apart at times and they're are a good side, so it's frustrating to lose."
Ardley opened the scoring 11 minutes into the second half when a Darren Beckett cross was headed home by Scott Bridges.
This spurred the visitors on and four minutes later Troy Bryan made it two. A free-kick from Stuart Bridges found Bryan wide of the goal and he was able to lob the advancing keeper to see his effort go in off the far post.
Oldham was happy with the performance of midfielder Pat Sayce, who has been brought in from Bishop's Cleeve. Former Cheltenham Town youth player Josh Swales also made his competitive debut at Petersfield Park. "Pat was outstanding, but all the lads did well and our ball retention and workrate was good," Oldham said. "We conceded two silly goals in the space of four minutes, turning our back on quickly-taken free-kicks, but there were lots of positives. Josh did okay and it's his first real taste of men's football, so we'll have to be patient with at times, but he's a good lad."
Saracens are not in action tomorrow and Oldham has given his players the weekend off ahead of next Tuesday's trip to Newbury. He had six players unavailable for the opener, but is hoping to have two or three back. Elliot Kennedy still has four matches of a five-game ban to serve. Ex-Bredon man Nick Hill is set to be given a run-out for the reserves as he returns to full fitness after injury.
Sara's U18's Seeking Pre-Season Fixtures - 2 July
Cheltenham Saracens U18 team are seeking pre-season friendlies home or away from teams attached to Hellenic League Clubs.
Any club interested please contact Bob Attwood on email@example.com stating list of available dates.
Our under 18 team has withdrawn from the Gloucestershire County Youth League and joined the Midland Floodlit League, we are in the Southern Section of this league which has teams from Birmingham City,Evesham United,Gloucester City and Kidderminster Harriers.
You Can't Keep A Good Man Down - 21 June
Cheltenham Saracens Bob Attwood retired as secretary last month after 50 years involvement with the club, but you can't keep a good man down.
He started off as a player 50 years past, and has been a guiding force ever since, yesterday evening he was honoured with a Meritorious Service Award by the League.
League General Secretary Brian King orated at the AGM.
"The recipient of this award has been heavily involved in football for over 50 years and is a recipient of the Football Association 50 year Long Service Award".
"In his playing days, I am told, he was an uncompromising centre forward a trait that has served him well during his long and successful football career."
"In the 60’s he was instrumental in setting up what has become known as Bob Attwoods's as he has been the driving force behind the clubs progress through the local league and eventually into the Hellenic League in the 1980’s".
"In the early 70’s as Captain of his clubs 1st Team he led the club to success in tournaments abroad in Belgium, Holland, Germany & France. By the late 70’s he had become manager of the clubs 1st team and was also a Club Representative to the Management Committee of his local league before in 1986 leading the club into the Hellenic League and assuming the position of Club Secretary, a post that Bob Attwood held to the end of the 2011-2012 season."
"Bob Attwood has been instrumental in pushing for facility improvements over the years and is able to turn his hand to many things within his club. Whilst standing down as Club Secretary we will still have contact with Bob as he is not relinquishing the position of Match Secretary – well not just yet."