Cheltenham Town v West Ham United

Preview Percy takes a look at Wednesday night's visit to Cheltenham Town. Warning: contains the contents of his handkerchief....."

Next up we travel to Cheltenham, home of the Ladies' College, er, so I am told, where we will be hosted by Cheltenham Town in the second round of the League Cup.

This is a trophy now with a sponsor so naff that, even were I to abandon my usual rule about not mentioning sponsors' names without them paying for the privilege, I'm not sure I could remember who the hell they are or what it is they make, do or sell. Kick off at what is now a sponsored Whaddon Road (see earlier comment re sponsors) is at 7:45pm with extra time and the new-fangled "ABBA" penalty system being available to separate the sides in case of need.

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The match is taking place at in the wilds of Gloucestershire due to the fact that they took out loads of seats at our place to enable the school sports to take place the other week and they won't have replaced them yet. Still, good job we insisted on a "state of the art" retractable system when we moved in or we'd have to play the first 4 games of the season away. Oh......

As it's the League Cup both sets of supporters will be hoping that they will have an interest in the draw for the next round, which takes place on Thursday. In China. At 4.25am. It's almost as if the powers that be are saying "how stupid can we go before people notice?" The answer of course is that we noticed donkey's years ago.

So our hosts are in the midst of their 18th season in the Football League, a run that originally ran for 16 seasons culminating in relegation in 2014-15. They returned as champions of the National League or "Conference" as most people still call it and managed to stay up last term, a penultimate day 1-0 defeat of the Monkey Hangers ensuring safety.

So far this season they have played three in the league, losing away at Morecambe on the opening day before beating Crawley 1-0 at Whaddon Road. This was followed by a 3-0 defeat at Carlisle which leaves them in 20th place of the fledgling table. They qualified for this stage of the competition by defeating Oxford 4-3 on their own patch, coming back from 3-1 down to equalise in the 90th minute to force extra time, 9 minutes into which they notched the winner. More recently they went down 2-1 at home to Swansea's U21 side in the EFL Trophy.

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The big news was that after getting back from Carlisle three players were caught short, opting to relieve themselves in a pub car-park. The event was videoed, for some reason, by a supporter and soon arrived on the usual social media sites. This prompted a statement from the club: "we will be conducting an internal investigation" it read. I know what you mean guys but, on reflection, do you think there might have been a better choice of words?

They are managed by that stalwart of the lower leagues Gary Johnson. Johnson has been about a bit including Cambridge, Yeovil (two spells) Bristol City, Peterborough and Northampton. Improbably, he also had an 18 month spell in Latvia managing the national side. Like you do. Johnson missed the run in to last season's relegation battle on the grounds that he was undergoing by-pass surgery at the time. I think we'll give him that one. After all if you put that forward when deciding to throw a sickie you're probably be going to be able to show off the scars to prove it.

According to statistics provided by GCHQ who just happened to overhear stuff on the bus, honest, the big talk of the town at the moment is the form of summer signing Mohamed Eisa. Eisa came in from Greenwich Borough where Ian Wright started out before taking a step backwards to go forwards in joining Crystal Palace. Eisa has had a flying start to his first season in the big boys' league, scoring the opener in the Morecambe defeat, a brace in the League Cup win at Oxford - including the 99th minute winner, and the only goal of the game in the win over Crawley. He was rested for the EFL Trophy match.

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The work-experience kid of as yet-to-be determined gender wearing a hoodie who seems only able to communicate with some strange grunting noises informs me that, such is the player's meteoric rise to League 2 prominence, his Wikipedia page consists of the information that the player played for Greenwich Borough before joining Cheltenham. This was something I had already gleaned from the Channel 5 highlights programme, basically because that's just about all they know about him. In fact they probably used the words "Ian Wright" as much as they did the player's own name last time I watched the programme. That and some excruciating puns involving the phrase "return on investment" seem to be par for the Channel 5 course.

They have a Tilbury boy in midfield in the form of Harry Pell. Or, to give him his full name, Harry David Balraj Pell. Pell started out on Charlton's books, spending over 10 years at the Valley from the age of 7. He failed to make the first team however. Bristol Rovers, Hereford, AFC Wimbledon and Eastleigh have been his permanent employers before he joined The Robins in 2015 winning the Division 5 (look I'm too old to keep up with the name changes ok) in 2015-16. His weekend was about as good as ours opening the scoring for Carlisle as he did.

The only player for whom a fee was laid out was defender Jordon Foster. It can't have been much of a fee because, depending on your source it was either "undisclosed" or a free that saw him make the trek down from Edinburgh where he had been on the books of Hibernian. Foster spent the latter part of 15-16 on loan at Plymouth. Must be something about green shirts. At the start of 16-17 he signed a two-year deal at Easter Road and helped Hibs win the Scottish Football Championship, which is the one that Celtic aren't in. However feeling away-sick (if that's a word) for the complete other end of the island that we call Great Britain he came on board at Cheltenham this summer.

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They brought in Dubliner Kevin Dawson from (relatively) local rivals Yeovil. Dawson made over 120 appearances for the Glovers but his most interesting former club was the one he started his career with Sporting Fingal lasted a mere 4 years from 2007-11. In that time they won the FAI Cup and qualified for Europe twice. However, owned as they were by dodgy builder Gerry Gannon, Dublin Airport and Anglo Irish bank they were caught up in the *hidden loans" scandal which contributed to the collapse of the Irish Banking system back in that time and the club folded in the aftermath. None of which has anything to do with Cheltenham. Interesting though.

Ok to Saturday. It's getting silly now. Years of failure on the part of PGMOL to do anything other than protect their dishonest and corrupt select group referees has got us where we are today. Where the likes of Lee Mason can pick a side and give them all the help he likes, safe in the knowledge that there will be no proper scrutiny of his actions. Why Southampton were not down to nine men before Arnautovic took the law into his own hands is purely down to Mason. If we were able to ask him why he saw fit to apply the laws in such a one-sided manner he would probably reply "because I could and there's nothing anyone could do to stop me".

"Oh referees are placed under so much scrutiny" wail those who like to defend this sort of stuff. Well you could have fooled me. The BBC chose to ignore everything Mason did because it didn't fit in with Jermain Jenas' typically slanted view of things. "Ribcage high tackle? - oh we'll just edit that out." "We will have to show the elbow though or we can't show Noble. No problem. We will just do what the ref did and pretend it didn't happen." Frankly I have just blown my nose and the contents of my hanky are more intelligent and honest than Jermain Jenas. Stick my hanky on the box BBC - at least it won't insult the viewers' intelligence quite as much as Jenas does.

Oh and if you are going to run that stupid "these things even themselves out" argument we are already three penalties and two sendings-off behind this season alone at the moment. We've been on the wrong end of PGMOL's mafia operations ever since we signed Di Canio all those years ago. We'd have to be handed the Premier League on a plate about 15 years running to even that lot up.

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Ok Arnautovic was stupid and as a result will have a three game break. Which brings us on to selection for this match. Traditionally Bilic has rung the changes for these matches. In this case maybe a start for Sakho who had a few good moments at the weekend. Otherwise it's a toss-up as to whether or not there will be wholesale changes given that this is a League Cup tie. Reid will be missing having failed to make it past the warm-up at the weekend. Kouyate is a maybe but I'd expect Lanzini and Carroll to be saved for the weekend.

Prediction? Oh come on. 2nd round of the league cup? No idea what sort of team we are going to put out. Against a team who will of course be "up for it". Tough one. We need a professional performance which, players please note, means not turning around and flattening someone because the ref has let your opponents get away with exactly the same thing a dozen times.

On the basis that our luck has to change sooner rather than later I will go for a double wager. Firstly I will stick 50p on our players making it through from the warm-up to kick-off for once (good odds on that one) and the remaining ?2 out of the ?2.50 I was going to pay Lee Mason never to referee a football game again at any level will go on a 2-1 away win once I can get down to Winstone's The Turf Accountants.

Enjoy the game!

When Last we met at Whaddon Road: N/A

This is our first visit to their place. In fact we have met only the once ever, at the Boleyn in the same round of the League Cup in 2013. Vaz Te and Morrison were on target in a 2-1 victory that saw the debut of Adrian in the goal. He's the only player in our squad for that night to still be with the club.

Danger Man: Mohamad Eisa

So he signs a one year deal in July having arrived from Ian Wright's old club ((C)Every tired newspaper) and scores a couple of goals. So they extend his one month old contract by another three years pretty much immediately. Easy this game innit!

Referee: Oliver Langford

You kinda take pot luck with the officials at this stage of the competition. He has been placed into the "Select Group 2" of the PGMOL mafia-structure which means that they like him but they aren't quite sure that they can trust him to deliberately spoil matches. If it's any help I suspect that if (as a referee) he still has any friends left they call him "Bonnie". Probably.

Percy's Poser

Last week we asked you which Southampton player of the 1980's could lay claim to having football's poshest name. First answer out of the digital hat this week came from Overseas where Mrs Hazel Refalo of Naxxar, Malta piped up with the answer "Forbes Phillipson-Masters". He had an interesting history. Originally signed as a 'keeper he was released then re-signed as a central defender, though he continued to play in goal from time to time as required. He played a handful of first team matches before disappearing in the direction of Plymouth Argyle and Bristol City before ending his career at Yeovil. Apparently he now has his own building company in Dorset, the vans of which all have "long vehicle" signs at the back on account of the extra length required to get his name on the side. Anyway, well doe Mrs H. You win whatever ot was I was offering at the weekend.

For this week's poser we ask you: What part does Cheltenham pub "The Salisbury" play in the club's history? The first correct answer out of the digital hat will win something jolly impressive I should imagine.

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