After Saturday’s disappointing loss to Mauricio Pellegrino’s Southampton at The St Mary’s Stadium, we make the trip to face Cheltenham Town tonight in Round Two of the 2017/2018 Carabao Cup.
The clash has been made a must-win encounter by our torrid start to the Premier League campaign and over 1,000 members of The Claret & Blue Army will be making the trip to The West Country hoping to avoid a classic Cup Tie giant killing.
The tie will kick-off at 7:45 PM BST tonight and is being broadcasted live on Sky Sports Football, Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Mix with coverage starting at 7:30 PM BST. Locals to the Gloucestershire area can also tune into full Radio coverage of the game on BBC Radio Gloucestershire.
If you don’t have access to SKY TV or BBC Radio Gloucestershire, then you can be sure to catch updates on all the action and reaction from the encounter on Twitter @MooreThanAClub.
Travelling Hammers will be making the trip to The LCI Rail Stadium where we will face Cheltenham Town in the clash. It will be the first time in history that a West Ham United side have visited the Venue, which opened in 1926.
The Ground is also known as Whaddon Road and is shared between Cheltenham Town and National League South side Gloucester City, who play home games alternately. With a capacity of 7,000, our fans are expected to fill up around 20% of the Stadium, and we will be housed in The Colin Farmer Stand.
Slaven Bilic was quoted as saying that he will take a “strong” side to Gloucestershire, which could include new signing Sead Haksabanovic for the first time. Centre-back Winston Reid was stretchered off in the warm-up before our defeat to Southampton at the weekend and is not expected to return until after the International Break.
Reid will join teammates Robert Snodgrass, Manuel Lanzini, Cheikhou Kouyate and Andy Carroll as stars who are not going to be in the traveling squad due to injury. Michail Antonio, who is a former Cheltenham Town player, could also miss out after only making his return from a Hamstring injury on Saturday.
Several U23 starlets are also expected to be drafted into the first-team squad by Bilic and these could include the likes of Antonio Martinez, Martin Samuelsen, Nathan Holland and Dan Kemp who have been impressing of late in The PL2.
The hosts have no fresh injury concerns heading into the tie and could give a Robins’ debut to midfielder Liam Dawson, who was signed from Yeovil Town in the summer. Twenty of Cheltenham’s Ladies side will be in attendance at Whaddon Road and one of them, Alana Taylor, has admitted that she will be cheering on Bilic’s boys as she is a lifelong Hammer.
Robins boss Gary Johnson has himself vowed to field the strongest line-up possible and has urged his players to “Grasp the opportunity” of playing on the big stage against Premier League opposition.
We have only ever faced off with Cheltenham Town once in our history and that came in the same competition in 2013. On that night, goals from Ricardo Vaz Te and Ravel Morrison either side of the break helped us to a 2-1 victory and progression to the Third Round of that season’s Tournament.
A certain Adrian San-Miguel made his debut in Claret & Blue at Upton Park that night and he is set to start between the sticks tonight.
The Robins reached this stage of the Competition thanks to an extra-time victory over League One Oxford United in the previous round. However, they have made a sluggish start to their League Two campaign with just a single win and two losses.
Cheltenham Town Football Club was founded in 1887 but did not gain entry to The Football League until the late 1990’s. Since then, the club has yo-yo-ed in and out of League Two and The National League but did reach their highest ever position by gaining promotion to League One in 2006.
The Robins’ most recent Title came in the form of the 2015/2016 National League, but the side has previously won one F.A Trophy and two League Two Play-Off Finals.
Who is officiating?
Experienced EFL Referee Oliver Langford will take charge in Gloucestershire, Mark Russell and Robert Merchant will be The Assistants, with Brett Huxtable as The Fourth Official.
So, with the scene set for our first ever trip to Whaddon Road, will we progress in our first appearance in The Carabao Cup Round Two in three seasons?