Cheltenham Town – Match Report vs Mansfield Town 07/12/19

Cheltenham were impressive in a 3-0 win against a fairly poor Mansfield side. Cheltenham lined up with an attacking 3-5-2 whilst Mansfield used a similar but more defensive-minded 5-3-2. The opening two goals both came from headers, the first through a cross from open play and the second coming from a free-kick. A strong performance was rounded off with a third goal late on after a good passing move.


  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average, don’t follow up

Jake Doyle-Hayes

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Irish
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 30/12/1998
  • Current Club: Cheltenham Town, on loan from Aston Villa
  • Career: Aston Villa, Cambridge United (L), Cheltenham Town (L)
  • Position: Central midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Doyle-Hayles excelled playing in the middle of a staggered midfield three, with Clements dropping deep and Broom playing in a more advanced role. He impressed with his passing range and vision, metronomically setting the tempo as Cheltenham looked to build attacks through the middle of the pitch.

He often picked up dangerous positions on the corners of the box, making himself available to receive the ball and looking to cross it in to the back post. His delivery from these positions was consistently good, able to tease the ball into an area in behind the defence but too far in front of the goalkeeper for him to come and collect. This led to Cheltenham’s first goal where he received the ball on the edge of the box and expertly dropped a cross onto the head of Jonté Smith.

He was constantly working off the ball to find space and give the option when the back three were in possession. He played with his head up and rarely gave away possession, often opting to play short simple passes in the direction he is facing. He has decent agility and balance and can accelerate well into space but it is his calmness on the ball and ability to make the right decision that allows him to retain possession so well. He is more of a creative outlet than a goal threat but he did have a good effort from range saved in the second-half.

Defensively he benefitted from the role that Clements played, who tackled well and broke up play, which allowed him to play in a more advanced role and not take on a lot of ball-winning responsibility. He was booked early on which would have altered his aggression and the way he engaged opposition players but his sleight build is not suited to physical battles and he did not look to enter many defensive duels in this match. He did, however, position himself well on the line to head clear from a corner and prevent a goal.

Rating: A1

Doyle-Hayes is evidently able to play at a higher level than League Two. He may leave Aston Villa permanently this summer and any team in the top half of League One or bottom half of the Championship looking for a technically gifted, creative midfielder should be looking in his direction.

Will Boyle

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 24
  • Date of birth: 01/09/1995
  • Current Club: Cheltenham Town
  • Career: Huddersfield Town, Kidderminster Harriers (L), Macclesfield Town (L), York City (L), Kilmarnock (L), Cheltenham Town
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred foot: Left

Boyle played in the middle of the back three, using his physicality well to nullify the Mansfield attack and reduce the number of shots on goal to a minimum. He was dominant in the air and defended his box well, using his 6’3″ frame to good effect to make a number of important blocks and clearances late on in the match. He also showed his attacking threat, scoring an athletic diving header from a free-kick for Cheltenham’s second goal.

While his size leant itself well to defending aerially, he struggled at times with his ground defence. He is quite slow on the turn and needs to open his body position more to avoid being caught flat-footed by fast attacking players. He looked a bit clumsy at times, struggling to readjust his feet and reacting slowly to changes in direction. He is able to recover well and use his strength to put players off but he needs to improve when defending 1v1.

He saw a lot of the ball in the first half, receiving it from the goalkeeper and progressing it out wide to the wing-backs. For the most part, he was composed in possession and successful with his passing but gave the ball away carelessly a few times. He was not able to get on the ball as much in the second-half as the goal kicks started to go long and Mansfield started to dominate possession.

Rating: B1

Boyle was solid at the back and made a big contribution offensively as well as to the clean sheet. He would struggle at a higher level as the quality of attacking players increased but he has the ability to be an important player in a top League Two side.

Ryan Broom

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Welsh
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 04/09/1996
  • Current Club: Cheltenham Town
  • Career: Bristol Rovers, Taunton (L), Bath City (L), Eastleigh (L), Cheltenham Town
  • Position: Attacking midfield
  • Secondary position: Right-winger
  • Preferred foot: Right

Broom was given a free role behind the front two and used it effectively, occupying the half-spaces and getting on the ball in a variety of positions in front of the backline. He is a short, diminutive player with a good turn of speed and a very low centre of gravity which gives him impressive agility. His ball carrying ability was another important creative outlet for Cheltenham, allowing them to transition into an attack with speed.

He was strongest when receiving the ball in the midfield area and driving into the final third, using his balance and close control to move quickly with the ball and move into dangerous attacking positions. His passing ability did not quite match the promising positions he was able to get into and he on a number of occasions he lacked the quality to play the killer pass in behind. However, he earned a well deserved assist for Cheltenham’s third goal when he received the ball on the turn and played a good ball into the path of Alex Addai to finish 1v1.

He was industrious off the ball, constantly chasing down and engaging opponents with high energy pressing and reacting quickly to loose balls. As is so often the case with players of his stature he was susceptible to being bullied off the ball by bigger, more physical players but he was also able to avoid entering duels with quick, agile movements.

Rating: B1

Question marks over his ability to play at a higher level both in terms of physicality and overall quality but played an important role for Cheltenham in this match and caused real problems for the Mansfield defence.

Jacob Greaves

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 19
  • Date of birth: 12/09/2000
  • Current Club: Cheltenham Town, on loan from Hull City
  • Career: Hull City (Y), Cheltenham Town (L)
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred foot: Left

Greaves played as the left centre-back in the back three. He had a relatively quiet game but still contributed both defensively and going forward. He liked to engage attackers high up the pitch and was generally successful in intercepting early before an attack had the chance to develop. He did get caught out on one occasion, failing to win the ball back high up the pitch and being forced into committing a foul which resulted in a yellow card.

On the whole, though, he defended calmly and maturely, able to win possession by staying on his feet and reading the game well. At 6’0″, he is not particularly tall or well-built but he is an athletic defender and makes up for any strength deficiencies with his intelligence and composure.

In attack he often looked to overlap the left wing-back and get into crossing positions, similar to Chris Wilder’s system at Sheffield United, although his delivery from these positions were not able to create shooting opportunities. He displayed good technical ability and was able to evade pressure using impressive footwork and close control. His passing was accurate when progressing the ball into the channels but he was not always successful with long diagonals and balls in behind.

Rating: A2

Greaves looked comfortable at this level, playing with great composure considering his age and possessing attributes that could be developed to a high level. His style of defending is quite high risk and could be caught out in a higher division but he is still learning and maturing. Another loan to a League One club would be beneficial for him at this stage.


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