Cheltenham Town video: Cup spirit is lacking in home horror show
THE fighting spirit Cheltenham Town showed in their Capital One Cup comeback against Crawley Town was sorely missing as their unbeaten home run was brought to a shuddering halt by Plymouth Argyle.
They had shown real character to recover from 1-0 and 3-1 down to oust League One Crawley 4-3 after extra-time 11 days earlier, but when they fell behind in the 17th minute against Plymouth they suddenly looked like a group who had not played together before.
Undoubtedly their poorest display at the Abbey Business Stadium for nearly a year started well enough.
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There were some neat passing moves and after being given a warm welcome back after five years away, Steven Gillespie showed glimpses of his quality with some trademark gliding runs.
But Cheltenham lacked conviction and power with their shooting and Luke McCormick in the Plymouth goal was not seriously tested. It all started to go wrong when Rommy Boco, a player believed to have interested Mark Yates in the summer, delivered a cross from the left wing.
It was powered against the bar by central defender Neal Trotman, who had stolen a march on his marker Troy Brown.
The rebound fell to Marvin Morgan, who was able to tap in from close range unopposed and Cheltenham capitulated.
Conor Hourihane, who gave Argyle the lead at Whaddon Road last season before Cheltenham hit back to win 2-1, scored a fine second goal.
He beat Scott Brown with a well-placed shot from just outside the penalty area after a cross form Lewis Alesaandra was not dealt with.
Plymouth had not scored since their 2-1 win at Chesterfield on April 16, but they suddenly had two in less than 10 minutes.
Cheltenham were all over the place and there was worse to come for the shell-shocked home supporters.
A simple diagonal pass from Reuben Reid dissected the Cheltenham back four, allowing Boco to stride through and apply another accurate finish past Brown.
Boco also scored at Cheltenham last season, in Accrington's 3-0 victory, and this was Cheltenham's most difficult afternoon on their own patch since then.
Gillespie went close with a curling effort, but Cheltenham were booed off at the break and justifiably so.
An early second half goal was needed to provide hope and a golden chance fell to Jermaine McGlashan in the 47th minute.
Russ Penn's cross reached him at the far post via the head of Byron Harrison, but he blazed wildly over the bar.
Cheltenham's full-backs and wide players struggled and Mark Yates tried to inject some impetus in the 56th minute, replacing Sam Deering with youngster Zack Kotwica.
Kotwica showed his ability to pop up in goalscoring positions almost immediately, but there was no way past Guy Branston, who delivered a typically no-nonsense display at centre-half.
There were few signs of a dramatic fightback on this occasion, but Matt Richards gave the scoreline a slightly more respectable look in the 72nd minute.
He was brought down by former Shrewsbury Town team mate Morgan 25 yards from goal.
His free-kick deceived McCormick and went inside the bottom left corner with no real power to give Richards his second goal of the campaign.
There were no celebrations, but for the final 20 minutes McCormick was not put under any significant pressure as the game fizzled out.
Youth team prospect Bobbie Dale was handed his first taste of senior action, going on in place of Harrison, who did not make life difficult enough for Plymouth's defenders.
Richards tried his best to orchestrate things in the middle with mixed results, but it was an off-colour display all-round and changes are expected for the trip to Accrington Stanley next Saturday.
Cheltenham Town: S Brown; S Jombati, T Brown, S Elliott, C Braham-Barrett; S Deering (Z Kotwica 56), R Penn, M Richards, J McGlashan; S Gillespie (A Vincent 66), B Harrison (B Dale 82). Subs not used: K Lowe, J Taylor, C Roberts, R Inniss.
Plymouth Argyle: L McCormick; C Nelson, G Branston, N Trotman, D Berry; L Alessandra (A Gurrieri 90), D Blizzard (L Young 90), C Hourihane, R Boco; M Morgan, R Reid (T Harvey 68). Subs not used: J Richards, B Purrington, A Hannah.
Referee: C Breakspear.
Attendance: 3,460 (892 away).
Star Man: Matt Richards.