Cheltenham Town: Robins rue the lack of a crucial killer touch
Wycombe Wanderers 1 Cheltenham Town 1
THIS was much more like it from Cheltenham Town as they showed off their passing prowess at Wycombe Wanderers.
For the second week running they suffered an early setback, but this time they responded in the right way, dominating long periods in searing temperatures at Adams Park.
Keith Lowe was handed his first start of the season at centre-half in place of Harry Hooman, who had endured a torrid afternoon in the 3-0 home defeat by Accrington Stanley.
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But Lowe's 100th appearance for the club started in the worst possible fashion.
A Cheltenham corner taken by Billy Jones was caught by goalkeeper Nikki Bull and Wycombe broke at speed.
Sam Deering was seemingly poised to deal with Joel Grant's low cross until the over-eager Lowe slammed the ball into his own net.
Undeterred, Mark Yates' side soon took total control, with their three-man central midfield of Marlon Pack, Darren Carter and Sam Deering outstanding.
Carter made his first competitive start for 16 months and while he began to look understandably jaded towards the end of the match, his composure and use of the ball showed exactly why he has spent his entire career before this season in the top two divisions.
The left-footed 28-year-old is a similar build to Pack and the pair had Wycombe chasing shadows at times.
The movement and options available made for pleasant viewing for the travelling Cheltenham fans.
Carter initiated one move which included at least 20 passes as Jermaine McGlashan, Pack and Kaid Mohamed moved the ball quickly and eventually found Billy Jones on the left.
His delivery was met by Shaun Harrad, but it was easy for goalkeeper Nikki Bull in the tenth minute.
Every time McGlashan received the ball he looked capable of making something happen and Mohamed also made plenty of direct runs on the opposite flank, with his sharpness returning after an ankle injury.
Deering probed and weaved in his attacking midfield role and he sent a shot wide in the 14th minute after McGlashan and Pack had combined.
Pack was clearly enjoying himself on his 100th appearance for the club and he found Deering, who released Mohamed, but his shot with the outside of his right foot was tame.
McGlashan saw a far more powerful effort turned over the bar by Bull, but in the 38th minute Cheltenham deservedly levelled.
Former Wycombe loan player Pack was tripped by Stuart Lewis in the box and Harrad converted emphatically from the spot, sending Bull the wrong way for his fourth goal in five starts.
Cheltenham were camped in the Wycombe half and Lowe almost diverted a shot from Carter in from close range, but it went over the bar as the first period ended all-square.
Wycombe were booed off the pitch at half-time, but they did improve after the break, with player coach Gareth Ainsworth showing he is still a dangerous opponent at the age of 39.
He had gone on for the injured Matthew Spring in the 40th minute and he caused Jones some problems, but Cheltenham still looked far more threatening going forward.
Brown did not have a save to make throughout the match and an important headed clearance by Sido Jombati from Ainsworth's cross in the 77th minute was the closest the home side went to scoring.
At the other end Harrad, ex-Wanderers forward Chris Zebroski and Jeff Goulding all had sights of goal, but Cheltenham could not find the finishing touch.
Substitute Goulding drew a fine save from Bull low to his left in the 86th minute and he also blazed over the bar after skilfully controlling a corner.
The only cause for concern was that Cheltenham failed to score from open play, despite their superiority, but there were far more positives than negatives for Yates.
WYCOMBE WANDERERS: N Bull; C Dunne, G Doherty, L Johnson, M Parsons; J Kewley-Graham, M Spring (G Ainsworth 40), J Grant, S Lewis; J Kuffour, D Oli (R Logan 21). Subs not used: M Ingram, D Foster, G Basey, D Winfield, L Angol.
CHELTENHAM TOWN: S Brown; S Jombati, K Lowe, S Elliott, B Jones; J McGlashan (C Zebroski 68), M Pack, S Deering (J Goulding 74), D Carter, K Mohamed; S Harrad (D Duffy 78). Subs not used: C Roberts, H Hooman, R Penn, D Andrew.
REFEREE: D Sheldrake.
STAR MAN: Marlon Pack.