Cheltenham Town: Paul Benson the late hero in first win over Chesterfield
PAUL Benson's last-gasp goal lit up an otherwise wholly forgettable match between Cheltenham Town and Chesterfield, earning the Robins three priceless points in their promotion bid at the Abbey Business Stadium this evening.
The on-loan front man stooped to nod in Billy Jones' whipped cross from the left in the 91st minute as Cheltenham finally scored a home goal against their bogey side.
It was Benson's third strike for his loan club and could be one of the most important of the season as the Robins moved back into the top three ahead of Tuesday's mouthwatering match at Burton Albion.
Mark Yates stuck with the same starting XI for the third match in succession and the way his team started the match suggested they were capable of ending their winless record against the Spireites.
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The 4-4-1-1 formation may not have been prolific for Cheltenham between now and the end of the campaign, but it is hard to see teams overrunning them as happened at Chesterfield's Proact Stadium earlier in the season, when they were beaten 4-1, with similar capitulations occurring at Rochdale and Rotherham.
Cheltenham made by far the stronger opening to the match in front of the lowest crowd of the season at Whaddon Road - clearly affected adversely by the televised Champions League match between Manchester United and Real Madrid.
Keith Lowe arrived late into the box to meet Jones’ corner from the right, but he could not keep his header down and goalkeeper Tommy Lee was untroubled in the sixth minute.
Sam Deering was once again bright in his advanced midfield role, doing his best to support lone front man Benson.
Michael Hector, who helped set up Cheltenham’s second goal against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday once again showed his passing ability with a lovely ball out to Deering on the left, but his cross did not match its quality and Chesterfield cleared.
Marlon Pack also released Russ Penn into space with a well-disguised pass, but the bobbly surface was clearly making life difficult for Cheltenham in their attempts to spray it around.
Chesterfield grew into the game as the first half progressed an Steve Elliott blocked a firm drive from Jay O’Shea in the 18th minute.
A shot from attack-minded full-back Drew Talbot hit Elliott and went over the bar for a corner and one-time Robins transfer target Sam Togwell’s cross to the far post was reached by Conor Townsend, but his header was wide of the near post as the half finished goalless.
Cheltenham failed to make an impression in the final third after the break and neither goalkeeper was seriously troubled.
Yates responded by sending on Byron Harrison and Jermaine McGlashan in place of Penn and Darren Carter with 25 minutes to go and switching to a 4-4-2 formation with Deering on the left.
Jack Lester went on for Chesterfield in place of Marc Richards and his first action was to spin sharply and thump a shot over the bar in the 70th minute.
McGlashan was soon involved, running at left-back Nathan Smith, who was cautioned for a foul on the winger.
He also won two corners, the second of which was half cleared to Jason Taylor and he connected well with a shot that cleared the bar by inches.
Lester went close again in the 85th minute before Kaid Mohamed was introduced to the action in place of Deering, but the defences remained on top until the first minute of time added on when Benson settled it to give Cheltenham their first ever win over Chesterfield at the 12th attempt.
CHELTENHAM TOWN: S Brown; K Lowe, M Hector, S Elliott, B Jones; R Penn (J McGlashan 66), M Pack, J Taylor, D Carter (B Harrison 66); S Deering (K Mohamed 86); P Benson. Subs not used: D Duffy, C Roberts, S Harrad, S Jombati.
CHESTERFIELD: T Lee; D Talbot, L Cooper, N Trotman, N Smith; J O’Shea, S Togwell, S Hird, C Townsend; M Richards (J Lester 62), A Gnanuillet (T Darikwa 81). Subs not used: D Whitaker, R Brindley, M Randall, J Barrington, J Clark.
REFEREE: A Woolmer.
ATTENDANCE: 2,195 (125 away).
STAR MAN: Steve Elliott.