Cheltenham Town: Devon knows just how good the Robins are
CHELTENHAM TOWN 3 EXETER CITY 0
CHELTENHAM Town completed a quick-fire Devon double by defeating Exeter City with three second half goals at the Abbey Business Stadium.
A debut strike for Reading loan youngster Lawson D'Ath followed by a brace for right-back Keith Lowe made it a hugely satisfying afternoon for boss Mark Yates.
The win came only four days after the Robins had beaten Plymouth Argyle 2-1, also at home, and Yates was able to make five alterations to his team and watch them register their biggest victory of the season so far.
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Four of those changes were enforced, with Sido Jombati and Russ Penn suspended, Darren Carter injured and Chris Zebroski unwell.
In came Lowe, D'Ath, Sam Deering and Kaid Mohamed, while Darryl Duffy was preferred to leading scorer Shaun Harrad in attack in the only tactical change.
A settled side is usually one of the key elements of any team's success, but having 11 automatic choices is not healthy.
Yates may have a small squad, but this performance showed he has plenty of quality in reserve and Churchdown-based former St Peter's High School pupil Joe Hanks, 17, went on for his senior debut with six minutes left, a reward for the rapid progress he has made over the past year.
As well as scoring two predatory goals, both after Steve Elliott nodded down corners from former Exeter left-back Billy Jones, Lowe defended with assurance to ensure Jombati will not walk back into the team for next week's FA Cup first round tie against Yate Town.
D'Ath made a similarly positive impact having arrived from his Premier League parent club on Thursday for an initial month.
Yates' usual formation 4-2-3-1 became 4-1-4-1, with Marlon Pack showing discipline to sit deeper and D'Ath and Deering given licence to attack at will.
The way 19-year-old D'Ath initiated and finished a sweeping 55th minute move suggests he has plenty to offer at this level despite his tender age and Yates may have unearthed another loan gem.
His latest temporary signing flicked a long pass from Elliott inside to Duffy, who returned the ball perfectly into his path and he was away in the left channel.
D'Ath avoided the attentions of former Robins loanee Kevin Amankwaah, who still has plenty of speed, and lifted a perfectly placed shot with the outside of his right foot across goalkeeper Artur Krysiak and into the net.
It was an excellent move and seven minutes later Lowe made it 2-0, with Jones' supply from set pieces continuing to be a fruitful source of goals.
In between the first two goals, Scott Brown saved a swerving drive from Jamie Cureton and he also denied Alan Gow, who caused Cheltenham problems after going on with his side two down.
Having created so many goals already in Robins colours, Jones almost scored himself when a free-kick flashed just wide of the near post with Krysiak nowhere near it, but Lowe forced his second over the line from a yard after Elliott had reached yet another Jones delivery.
As well as playing a part in all three goals, Elliott was imperious at the back alongside Alan Bennett and the pair's partnership has picked up where it left off before the skipper's suspension.
Bennett went close to scoring only three minutes into a first period that may have been goalless, but it was far from dull.
Krysiak blocked well from almost point blank range to deny the Irishman, who had reached Jones' first corner of the afternoon at the far post.
Brown pushed a drive from Jimmy Keohane over the bar and Exeter went close three times in quick succession in the 39th minute.
Cureton's effort was cleared off the line by Jones, Liam Sercombe's follow-up attempt was saved by Brown and Steve Tully sent the loose ball wide.
There was not much to choose between the sides before the break, but D'Ath provided the spark and after his opener, anything other than a Robins win seemed unlikely.
Substitute Jeff Goulding headed against the near post during time added on, but Cheltenham had long since sealed their seventh straight victory over Exeter.
They have enjoyed one of their best starts to a Football League campaign and the exciting thing for fans is that there still appears to be much more to come as they continue to click through the gears.
Cheltenham Town: S Brown; K Lowe, A Bennett, S Elliott, B Jones; M Pack; J McGlashan (D Andrew 90), S Deering (J Hanks 84), L D'Ath, K Mohamed; D Duffy (J Goulding 63). Subs not used: C Roberts, B Graham, S Harrad.
Exeter City: A Krysiak; K Amankwaah, S Bennett, D Coles, C Woodman; S Tully (A Gow 65), M Oakley (A Dawson 90), L Sercombe, J Keohane, A Davies (J O'Flynn 28); J Cureton. Subs not used: P Baldwin, T Doherty, R Evans, J Moore-Taylor.
Referee: Trevor Kettle
Attendance: 3,545 (908 away).
Star man: Keith Lowe.