Cheltenham Town: Robins give it away again
HAPHAZARD defending continues to undermine Cheltenham Town's attacking potential as once again they had to play catch-up, against Portsmouth at the Abbey Business Stadium.
Jermaine McGlashan's last-gasp leveller lightened the mood after the Robins conceded two more wholly avoidable goals. They have now leaked more goals than any other League Two side.
All this from a team who enjoyed more shut outs than any other club in the basement division last term with 19 clean sheets helping them reach the play-offs for a second successive year.
Scott Brown is currently the only player to escape criticism from boss Mark Yates, who rewarded the long-serving goalkeeper with the captaincy for Cheltenham's first competitive meeting with fallen giants Pompey.
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Brown has picked the ball out of his net 13 times in six league games and eight times in three cup ties and there is very little he could do about any of them.
He is being let down by those in front of him, with lapses in concentration and basic errors costing Cheltenham all too regularly.
After going out of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy to Plymouth Argyle on penalties four days earlier, Yates welcomed Steve Elliott and Matt Richards back from injuries in place of Jason Taylor and Russ Penn.
Loan signing from Rotherham United David Noble made his first start in the middle of the pitch, with Terry Gornell picked ahead of Byron Harrison up front. Jermaine McGlashan was reinstated on the wing, with Ashley Vincent making way.
Cheltenham made an encouraging start, spending most of the first five minutes camped in the Portsmouth half at the end of the ground housing more than 1,500 noisy Pompey supporters.
The travelling hordes were celebrating inside five minutes as Patrick Agyemang took full advantage of a breakdown in communication between Elliott and Ryan Inniss.
He stole in between a stumbling Elliott and the advancing Brown and prodded Pompey into the lead.
Agyemang should have added a second in the 13th minute, but he blazed over with the goal gaping after a fine run and cross from right-back Yassin Moutaouakil.
Cheltenham were struggling to contain Andy Barcham and Ricky Holmes in particular and their rotten luck with injuries struck again in the 32nd minute when Inniss suffered a calf problem.
Central midfielder Penn went on, forcing a reshuffle that immediately worked to their advantage.
Richards moved to left-back, Sido Jombati to his favoured right-back role and Keith Lowe into the middle of defence.
It looked so much better and four minutes later, with Penn already making his presence felt, Cheltenham levelled.
Gornell threaded a perfect pass through to McGlashan, who skipped past John Sullivan.
The goalkeeper caught him, but McGlashan kept his balance and slotted into the net for his first goal of the season.
Cheltenham seized the initiative, but it was during their best period of the first half that they fell behind again two minutes before the break.
Young winger Jed Wallace was allowed to waltz his way to the byline past statuesque defenders and he crossed to Austrian international Johnny Ertl, who touched in from less than a yard out.
Elliott cleared an effort from Holmes off the line in stoppage time and it was Pompey who started the second half on top.
Holmes fed Ertl who set up Barcham for an overhead kick over the bar in the 50th minute and Pompey will wonder how they failed to score a third seconds later.
Barcham raced through one-on-one, but Brown made a smart block with a scramble ensuing and Cheltenham somehow surviving without conceding again.
Brown had to claw away Holmes' corner from underneath the bar, but Pompey began to run out of steam, dropping deeper and deeper as the full-time whistle approached.
They were not helped by a triple substitute in the 78th minute, which took an age to complete and contributed towards the five minutes of time added on by referee Brendan Malone.
It was in the second of those that McGlashan ensured the majority of the crowd left Whaddon Road content.
He beat Sullivan for a second time after Elliott's ball into the box caused havoc and things almost got even better when Gornell had a goal ruled out for offside, but that would have been extremely harsh on Portsmouth.
Cheltenham Town: S Brown; K Lowe, R Inniss (R Penn 32), S Elliott, S Jombati; J McGlashan, D Noble, M Richards, S Deering (B Harrison 66); T Gornell, S Gillespie (Z Kotwica 57). Subs not used: J Taylor, A Vincent, H Rivers
Portsmouth: J Sullivan; Y Moutaouakil, J Devera, S Bradley, D East; A Barcham (S Cooper 78), J Ertl, R Holmes (R Bird 78), S Ferry, J Wallace; P Agyemang (R Padovani 78). Subs not used: P Smith, A Harris, D Butler, B N'Gala
Referee: Brendan Malone.
Attendance: 4,776 (1,560 away).
Star man: Jermaine McGlashan.