Scunthorpe United v Cheltenham Town FC: Poor start dooms Robins
Scunthorpe United 2 Cheltenham Town 0
SLOW-starting Cheltenham Town suffered more away day disappointment, but their performance deserved better than a 2-0 defeat. They enjoyed long periods of sustained pressure at Glanford Park and substitute Sam Winnall's late goal gave the scoreline a flattering look for the home side.
Cheltenham were left to lick their wounds after a fourth defeat on the road in five League Two trips, but this was an altogether more acceptable performance than the dismal display at Torquay United a fortnight earlier, when they lost 4-1.
Mark Yates' side dominated possession in the second half, forced 10 corners and had three penalty appeals turned down, but they will be disappointed not to have worked Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe more rigorously.
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They were made to pay for a sluggish start, with Scott Brown beaten just five minutes into his 250th start for the club.
Matt Richards was penalised for a foul on Deon Burton and the free-kick was taken short, with Cheltenham defenders not alive to the situation.
A half-clearance fell to Esajas, who applied a fine finish inside the bottom right corner, but he had far too much time and space to pick his spot on the edge of the penalty area.
Unchanged Cheltenham found themselves up against it, with Jimmy Spencer causing problems against his former loan club.
Spencer wrestled clear of Troy Brown and blasted a shot over the bar in the 14th minute and Cheltenham looked lethargic for half an hour.
Debutant David Syers went close before setting up Spencer for a chance that he rolled well wide of the far post.
But Cheltenham improved and finally gained some composure as half-time neared and David Noble set up Jason Taylor for a firm drive which flew just wide of the right post.
Syers nodded Esajas' cross over the bar four minutes into the second period, but the introduction of Jamie Cureton in the 52nd minute sparked a period of dominance for Cheltenham.
The Robins forced a series of corners and free-kicks around the box in quick succession, peppering the goal without finding the finishing touch.
Cureton showed that he is human after all, missing his best chance to level the scores on the hour.
Byron Harrison, who worked tirelessly up front throughout, reached the byline and pulled back to the 38-year-old, but he shot tamely and it was easy for Slocombe.
The home crowd began to show signs of frustration as Scunthorpe struggled to clear their lines and Cureton fired wildly over the bar.
Cheltenham had appealed for a penalty in the first half after Taylor's header appeared to be handled, but they had two stronger claims in the second half.
Cureton went down under a challenge, but nothing was given and Jermaine McGlashan was hacked down by Andy Dawson right on the edge of the box, with a free-kick awarded rather than a penalty.
Richards' deliveries were dangerous, but Scunthorpe withstood the bombardment and began to look increasingly dangerous on the counter attack.
Syers missed a good opening after a cross from Terry Hawkridge before Troy Brown made an important intervention to deny Spencer after Winnall's delivery into the box.
Winnall contrived to miss when it looked easier to score in the 88th minute, but he finally put the game beyond Cheltenham's reach in the 90th.
He evaded the offside trap and beat Scott Brown with a confident finish, just as the fourth official indicated a minimum of six minutes' added time, making it doubly frustrating for Cheltenham.
It was their fifth successive reverse at Glanford Park, where they have not scored since March 2005.
They travel to Dagenham and Redbridge next Saturday and Yates will be calling for the same levels of workrate, with added cutting edge and a much brighter start.
SCUNTHORPE UNITED: S Slocombe; C Byrne, D Mirfin, N Canavan, A Dawson; M Sparrow, D Syers, S McAllister, E Esajas (T Hawkridge 66); J Spencer (C Iwelumo 83), D Burton (S Winnall 66). Subs not used: J Severn, L Waterfall, H Adelakun, C Howe.
CHELTENHAM TOWN: S Brown; K Lowe (S Jombati 84), J Wilson, T Brown, M Richards; J McGlashan, J Taylor, R Penn, D Noble (J Cureton 52), T Gornell (Z Kotwica 76); B Harrison. Subs not used: C Roberts, S Elliott, S Deering, A Vincent.
REFEREE: D Bond.
ATTENDANCE: 3,191 (130 away).
STAR MAN: Byron Harrison.