0 Overworked pitch could start hurting us and our players, says Cheltenham Town boss

CheltenhamTownCheltenham Town could start to see their players and their League Two hopes start to get hurt by the overworked Whaddon Road pitch, according to worried boss Gary Johnson.

The Robins boss revealed his concerns about the surface after Saturday's 2-2 draw with Blackpool having watched star of the show Russell Griffiths almost come a cropper.

The on-loan Everton goalkeeper made three or four excellent saves to deny the Seasiders - including a second half stop during which he got his foot stuck in the surface and appeared to get injured.

Last season Johnson lost goalkeeper Dillon Phillips to an injury caused by Eastleigh's sand-covered surface and he is worried by the thought of lightning striking twice.

"Russ came up with some good saves. All goalkeepers play their part and he played a telling part," he said. "I thought he was struggling at one point when he came out and blocked a shot and his foot planted in the ground and half the turf came up."

"When that happens and he went down, you worry that he's done everything, his knee, his groin, his ankle, everything. Thankfully this time he was okay."

Saturday's game was the 22nd played on the overworked LCI Rail Stadium surface this season - Tuesday night's FA Youth Cup game against Plymouth will be number 23.

That is the equivalent of a full season of League matches and, with the winter weather still to bite, Johnson is worried that the surface will become less and less stable under foot.

At Thursday night's fans forum Robins chairman Paul Baker said that there was no chance of the ground share deal with Gloucester City being extended beyond this current campaign.

Johnson is clearly not a fan of the agreement and voiced the same concerns last season when the Robins were pushing for promotion, saying that the pitch was causing his side's problems.

He praised the work of groundsman Matt Utteridge - ironically a former Gloucester City goalkeeper - for doing his best in trying circumstances, but the worries persist. "We know that we are getting too many games on this pitch. The poor old groundsman has had to deal with 22 games on it already this season," he said.

"You add in that, and all the warm-ups - with some not warming up as we would want you to do. When you have teams doing doggy runs and all their running like Gloucester do it cuts up."

"We have to try and help the groundsman as he does a lot of work, but it's important as we won't have a pitch before long. There's nothing much more that we can do about it other than mention it and then hope next year it doesn't happen."

You can read the full article from Gloucestershire Live HERE

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