Robins left stunned by Norburn's late strike
CHELTENHAM TOWN 1 BRISTOL ROVERS 1
CHELTENHAM Town were denied a first ever win double over Bristol Rovers by a 95th minute wonder goal from Oliver Norburn last night.
Shaun Harrad's strike at the end of the first half looked to have settled a keenly contested derby clash, but John Ward's side hit back at the death to continue their improvement.
It was former Robins boss Ward's second match in the opposition dugout at Whaddon Road with the first ending in defeat for Carlisle United in January 2008.
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Chasing their fourth win in a row, Rovers made by far the stronger start and Cheltenham were forced to soak up some sustained pressure.
Paul Benson did have a brief glimpse of goal in the fifth minute when he reached Jermaine McGlashan's cross from the right, but he failed to make a good contact and the ball bobbled harmlessly wide.
Apart from that it was all Rovers in the opening 20 minutes, with midfielder John-Joe O'Toole prominent.
He forced Scott Brown into a diving save in the seventh minute and from the resulting corner Tom Parkes' low effort was kicked away by Brown at the near post.
Willed on by 1,500 vociferous supporters Rovers made their extra man in the middle of the pitch count, but as the half wore on Cheltenham settled and began to threaten.
Former Rovers favourite Steve Elliott, who is always guaranteed an excellent ovation from the Gas fans, went down in the box in the 22nd minute after Keith Lowe's free-kick was deflected to him off the defensive wall.
There were some half-hearted penalty appeals, but referee David Phillips was having none of it.
Elliott almost scored in front of the travelling fans three minutes later, leaping to reach Kaid Mohamed's corner from the left, but Michael Smith headed off the line.
Goalmouth action was then at a premium for the remainder of the first half, but just when the teams looked set to go in at the break all-square, Harrad struck for the second time in four days.
Mohamed's shot was blocked by Parkes, but it fell kindly for Harrad in space and he showed his finishing prowess once again, beating Steve Mildenhall from ten yards in the second minute of time added on.
Jason Taylor surged through the middle in the opening minute of the second half, but his shot from just outside the area was sliced wide.
McGlashan had a glorious chance to double Cheltenham's lead in the 56th minute, receiving a cross from Mohamed and finding himself in space six yards out.
He prodded it straight at Mildenhall, but did not know much about it, but it hit him and flew to safety.
O'Toole went close with a low shot that cleared the right post by inches with Brown at full stretch in the 65th minute.
Brown reacted quickly to claw away another drive from O'Toole in the 71st minute and a long clearance from Mildenhall almost caught out the Robins' defence.
Substitute Eliot Richards ran through, but as the ball bounced high Keith Lowe and Michael Hector managed to recover and clear for a corner between them.
But Norburn rescued a point in the 95th minute with a beautiful shot from 35 yards which flew into the top right corner, giving Brown absolutely no chance.
CHELTENHAM TOWN: S Brown; K Lowe, M Hector, S Elliott, S Jombati; J McGlashan, R Penn, J Taylor, K Mohamed (S Deering 89); S Harrad (D Carter 73), P Benson (B Harrison 80). Subs not used: M Pack, D Duffy, L McCullough, J Hanks.
BRISTOL ROVERS: S Mildenhall; M Smith, T Parkes, McChrystal, L Brown; J Anyinsah (T Hitchcock 79), O Norburn, J-J O'Toole, S Clucas (E Richards 70), D Woodards (F Broghammer 54); R Brunt. Subs not used: D Clarkson, E Harrison, C Gough, C McDonald.
REFEREE: D Phillips.
ATTENDANCE: 4,463 (1,416 away).
STAR MAN: Jason Taylor.