Cheltenham Town: Defensive errors Bury 'dismal' Robins' hopes
A DISMAL performance like this is inevitable at some point during the season for nearly every club, but Mark Yates must quickly work out why it has happened to Cheltenham Town twice in their last three League Two matches.
Once again they wilted in the first half, conceding three times in eight minutes after taking an early lead at Gigg Lane. Their defensive frailty has become major cause for concern.
They shipped three goals in the first half at home to Plymouth Argyle a fortnight earlier, eventually going down 3-1 after a second half consolation free-kick from Matt Richards.
On this occasion Bury added a fourth after half-time to complete the rout and once again expose mental weakness in a Robins side who had looked so solid at Accrington Stanley in their 1-0 success a week ago.
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Cheltenham also put on a highly encouraging display at Premier League West Ham in the Capital One Cup in midweek, but there were no positives at all to take from their display against an impressive Bury side, who had it nearly all their own way.
Just about everything that could have gone wrong did so for Cheltenham, who lost two defenders to injuries in the opening period.
Craig Braham-Barrett picked up an ankle injury in the opening stages and Steve Elliott was knocked out cold by a flailing elbow from ex-Robins loan striker Marlon Jackson in the 28th minute of the match.
By the time Cheltenham lost Elliott, probably the last outfield player they would want to be without, Bury had raced into a 3-1 lead.
It all started so well, with Cheltenham clearing a corner and Jermaine McGlashan powering 60 yards up the pitch before feeding Terry Gornell in the third minute.
Gornell had evaded Bury's offside trap and seemed certain to score, but he miscued his shot across the six yard box, only for Andy Procter to make a mess of an attempted clearance that rolled into his own net.
With Braham-Barrett hobbling up and down the left flank, Cheltenham seemed to be distracted as Bury levelled in the ninth minute.
Tommy Miller won the ball from McGlashan and fed winger Danny Mayor, who breezed past Sam Deering and Keith Lowe before hitting a shot into the top corner from outside the penalty area.
It was a fine strike, but Cheltenham made it far too easy for him and Bury's second goal was even more galling.
It was a free header for Procter, who made up for his earlier aberration, powering in Craig Jones' corner in the 12th minute.
Cheltenham had a chance to pull one back when Gornell challenged goalkeeper Trevor Carson on the edge of the box and referee Scott Duncan awarded a free-kick.
It appeared to be a well-contested 50-50 challenge, with both players going for the ball, but Carson was cautioned.
Richards' free-kick was disappointing and Bury extended their lead when Jones' corner was cleared back to him on the right and his second delivery was touched in by Nathan Cameron from close range near the front post.
He stole in between Scott Brown and substitute left-back Sido Jombati and Cheltenham's fans behind the goal could not believe what they were seeing.
Jason Taylor filled in at centre-half in place of Elliott as Bury pressed for more, missing several good chances, with Jackson going close and wide men Mayor and Jones causing real problems.
There was a noticeable improvement after half-time, but it was far too little and much too late.
Russ Penn hit the outside of the left post in the 52nd minute and Gornell fired one over on the turn.
But substitute Jessy Reindorf headed in Bury's fourth in the 75th minute from Mayor's cross.
Tempers were frayed in the Cheltenham dressing room after the game, and skipper Penn admitted players 'fell out'. MarkYates now has a major job on his hands to turn things around.
Cheltenham Town: S Brown; K Lowe, R Inniss, S Elliott (B Harrison 28), C Braham-Barrett (S Jombati 10); J McGlashan, R Penn, J Taylor, M Richards, S Deering; T Gornell (S Gillespie 84). Subs not used: B Jones, C Roberts, Z Kotwica, A Vincent.
Bury: T Carson; S Beeley, N Cameron, W Edjenguele, G Roberts; C Jones, T Miller, A Procter, D Mayor (T Obadeyi 84); M Jackson (J Reindorf 68), A Forrester (J Sinnott 77). Subs not used: R Hinds, A Grimes, E Holden, R Charles-Cook.
Referee: Scott Duncan
Attendance: 2,910 (167 away).
Star Man: Jason Taylor.