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Abbey Business Stadium
Cheltenham Town v Mansfield Town

Sunday  December 29th 2012, 3pm
League Two
Jeff Beastall
(Mansfield Town fan)

An unusual fixture this one on the last Sunday of 2013. We decided to make a two day visit of this one, hoping to catch the game on the Sunday and then have a look around the town on the Monday.
We stayed at the Central Premier Inn on Gloucester Road which isn’t really central but located at the diametrically opposite side of the town to the ground on the south west side. Directions to the ground are the same as for on foot from the station which is close to the hotel but we chose to take the car having fortunately the available services of an alcohol free driver. Halfway to the ground in the town centre are two Wetherspoon outlets, The Bank House on Clarence Street and The Moon under Water on Bath Road. I’m not over fond of club houses and pubs next to the ground which are sometimes a 10 deep scrum for the bulk buying of limited brands in plastic pots. These are two optionals for the visiting fan; I would recommend personally The Moon (Post code GL53 7HA) which has a short stay public car park virtually next door. This was  £2.60 for two hours which is ample if you are doing a pub lunch too. From there it’s about a mile to Whaddon Road.
We found the ground easily given the directions and parked on the nearby side streets. Being a mature student, the club had a reduced admission which was very welcome too. Catering was pretty much as expected and the toilets clean and modern -ish in appearance.
The game itself was end to end stuff and would have been entertaining for even the most cynical of neutrals. Without a win for 13 games, the Stags had slipped steadily down the league from promotion contenders towards the abyss of becoming potential relegation fodder. Two goals in the first half and Mansfield appeared to have the game in the bag, but a second half resurgence from the Robins saw them grab one back with 10 minutes left. 5 minutes of added time stretched agonisingly towards some 12 minutes of “Fergy time” but still the Robins couldn’t grab a late equaliser and The Stags took away all of the much needed 3 points with extreme gratitude.
Only fly in the ointment of the day was the suggestion / accusation made by a steward to one of our more prominent fans that they had been allegedly consuming alcohol in the stadium; this at end of the game as everyone was leaving through the central exit in, well,  good spirits, so to speak. Poor choice of phrase but there you go. I certainly couldn’t comment either way but as this “quiet word in the ear” began to attract increasing interest, it might have been a bit more prudent had the Steward either made a move (with some back up both in the from of evidence and physical presence ) before then, or as in the Ronan Keating song, “[did] it best when you say nothing at all.”  I’m all for ground security but come on, there’s a method, a time and a place for safety and the top of a staircase in the midst of a bustling crowd at the end of a match isn’t it. 
Bottom line, great day otherwise and hope we’ll be back next year and at a time when the fixtures don’t mean we return here in the depths of winter.

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