Cheltenham Town: Wing wizardry helps undo Robins
GOALS from the masterful winger Gary Roberts and substitute Eoin Doyle sank Cheltenham Town in a fast-paced encounter at the Proact Stadium on Saturday.
The Robins seemed slow to start, attempting to contain the attacks and hold Chesterfield but ultimately allowing the promotion favourites too much time and space, especially on the left wing.
Cheltenham had an impressive second half and were unlucky not to equalise as chances fell to them, including a goal-line clearance and a headed effort disallowed for offside.
However, Chesterfield, who were justifiably favourites, enjoyed the lion's share of possession and unleashed wave after wave of attack on the Cheltenham goal.
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Robins goalkeeper Scott Brown was forced to make a number of excellent saves, but he could do little to stop the deflected goals that hit the back of the net in the first half and, unfortunately for his side, on the stroke of full-time.
Spireites striker Marc Richards, who scored against Bury last weekend, was unlucky not to get on the end of a cross to open the scoring, before his mischievous overhead kick was delivered safely to the hands of Brown.
Roberts capitalised on the opening strong spell for the Spireites and fired in a shot at goal which took a deflection and hopped over Brown to put Chesterfield ahead.
He almost immediately doubled the advantage as the opening goal put the Robins on the back foot once again.
Sido Jombati and Sam Deering struggled to control Roberts, who at times was a class above the rest of the men on the pitch.
The wingman was running riot on the left, and his inch-perfect crosses were giving the Cheltenham back line trouble.
But Cheltenham fought their way back into the match, and Byron Harrison almost scored for the Robins just before half-time.
A careless back-pass by Nathan Smith, who was later substituted, was intercepted by Harrison and he chipped the ball over the keeper, only for Ryan Edwards to clear it from the line.
The Robins took control of the second half, and were awarded successive free-kicks after several players were hacked down by the Spireites on the attack.
Matt Richards delivered with potent accuracy from the direct free-kicks.
One attempt met the head of Troy Brown who flicked his effort into the net and would have thought he had equalised, only for the goal to be judged offside.
In play, Richards, who has been highly impressive so far for the Robins looked ordinary, as former Port Vale man Sammy Morsy and Jimmy Ryan were able to pass the ball through midfield and cut through the Robins defence.
Captain Russ Penn toiled with trademark determination in midfield to limit the damage, and had a long-range effort himself which found the hands of goalkeeper Tommy Lee.
Both Troy Brown and Steve Elliott were solid in the back line, while Craig Braham-Barrett enjoyed a superb performance, linking well with Jermaine McGlashan who used the full width of the pitch to threaten the Chesterfield defence.
McGlashan desperately appealed for a penalty in the second half after being brought down, but he was turned down by the referee, in a game in which three Chesterfield players – Nathan Smith, Morsy and captain Drew Talbot – were shown yellow cards.
As Cheltenham desperately searched for the equaliser, Chesterfield took the wind out of the Robins' sails.
Roberts went on a trademark run and squared the ball to Doyle who beat Brown, thanks to a deflection from Braham-Barrett.
To add to Cheltenham's injury woes, Terry Gornell hobbled off in the second half with a groin injury and was replaced by Ashley Vincent, who could not make much of an impact.
Gornell's injury will be assessed this week, to see if he is fit for this weekend.
With one point from two matches in League Two, and currently lying 18th in the table, the Robins will host Plymouth on Saturday (3pm) keen for a win.
CHELTENHAM TOWN: S Brown; S Jombati, T Brown, S Elliott, C Braham-Barrett; J McGlashan, R Penn, M Richards, S Deering (Kotwica, 78); B Harrison, T Gornell (A Vincent, 52). Subs not used: K Lowe, B Jones, J Taylor, C Roberts, J Hanks, R Inniss.
CHESTERFIELD: T Lee; D Talbot (C), S Hird, R Edwards, N Smith (T Darikwa, 45) ; S Morsy, J Ryan; J O'Shea (Togwell, 85), R Humphreys, G Roberts; M Richards (E Doyle, 64). Subs not used: A Chapman, L Cooper, A Gnanduillet, M Brown.
REFEREE: Michael Bull
ATTENDANCE: 5,367 (232 away)
STAR MAN: Russ Penn