Cheltenham Town suffered their first league defeat since October at the hands of Bristol Rovers.
Goals from Chris Zebroski and Eliot Richards condemned Cheltenham to defeat and a firm end to what has been a superb run of league form for the Robins. All good things come to an end but the result will still prove a bitter pill to swallow for Cheltenham this evening.
Mark McGhee's Rovers came with a gameplan and left with three points but at half time you would have banked on a draw following an uneventful first 45 minutes. Rovers did take the lead however when Chris Zebroski broke away and angled a shot past Brown midway through the half and it was 2-0 just three minutes later when an Alan Bennett mistake allowed Eliot Richards to nip in and poke the ball past Brown.
Cheltenham huffed and puffed but couldn't find a way through and Mark McGhee was able to come away with three points on his magerial debut in charge of Bristol Rovers.
Robins chief Mark Yates made no changes to his starting XI from last weekend's 2-0 victory over Aldershot so new signing Jermaine McGlashan started from the bench following his transfer from Aldershot Town. Today's game was also notable because it would be new Rovers manager Mark McGhee's first game in charge of the Memorial Stadium outfit since his appointment in midweek.
This atmospheric derby started on a good note with both sides making full hearted challenges in an effort to grab an early advantage in this game. It was Cheltenham who carved out the first opportunity on goal with Darryl Duffy showing great strength to play Spencer into space but the Huddersfield loanee could only drift an effort into the safe hands of Michael Poke. Things didn't really progress on from that point but Bristol Rovers did have an opportunity to take the lead when Anyinsah caught hold of a long ball but Jombati and Brown combined to rule out the one on one opportunity.
An uninspiring half of football continued with a few scrambles at either end and Cian Bolger missing his target completely from a Rovers freekick. Despite the lack of action this half almost did end with a goal courtesy of Chris Zebroski. The powerful forward headed a decent effort inches wide of the post although Brown may well have got a glove to the ball had it been on target. A short burst of action followed but this half ended with an uneventful 0-0 tie.
Half Time: Robins 0-0 Bristol Rovers
The second half began well with Darryl Duffy instantly testing the Rovers resolve with a searching low cross which Downes had to steer wide for a corner despite Penn lurking at the back post. Rovers soon hit back however and Keith Lowe was almost the unfortunate victim of an own goal when his defensive header was steered towards goal but Brown was luckily on hand to make the save.
Rovers made their first change just seven minutes into the half with the experience Scott McGleish replacing Joe Anyinsah. It wasn't too long before Cheltenham made changes too in the form of Jermaine McGlashan and Jeff Goulding who replaced Russ Penn and Darryl Duffy respectively. McGlashan made his debut for the Robins but what happened next wasn't eactly what had been planned. Bristol Rovers immediately went on the attack and McGleish's long ball found Zebroski who made no mistake in guiding the ball past Brown and inside the back post.
It got worse for Cheltenham after that with Bristol Rovers punishing a soft mistake from Alan Bennett. Scott Brown was forced into making a decent save from a long range shot but Bennett's chest down back to his goalkeeper allowed Elliot Richards to nip in and steal a goal. 2-0 Rovers and Cheltenham were left in desperate need of some inspiration.
Cheltenham did improve following two quick successive goals but Rovers maintained control with a solid defensive display leaving the Robins scratching their heads as to how they could penetrate the sturdy defence. The first yellow card of the game was shown to Michael Poke for time wasting and Jeff Goulding tested him with a decent effort following a corner but Cheltenham were still struggling to get back into the game.
On 81 minutes it could have been and should have been 3-0. Alan Bennett header back to Brown was completely mis-kicked by the Robins number one and Scott McGleish rose to head the ball in at goal only to see it go wide despite the open goal. Massive let off for Cheltenham but sadly the story of the afternoon so far. Brian Smikle was brought on to replaced Mohamed on 83 minutes but this game seemed to be dead in the water at this stage.
Frustration started to set in with Jimmy Spencer being shown yellow for a foul on Stanley although the Rovers captain made a meal of it before springing up onto his feet. The Robins kept battlign away but to no avail as Rovers saw the game out to the final whistle to claim a valuable three points and a mangerial debut victory for Mark McGhee. Defeat for the Robins but a first league loss since October proves they have what it takes to bounce back next weekend.
Full Time: Robins 0-2 Bristol Rovers
Cheltenham Town FC (4-5-1): Brown (GK); Jombati, Lowe, Bennett (C), Garbutt; Spencer, Summerfield, Pack, Penn (McGlashan 59), Mohamed (Smikle 82); Duffy (Goulding 59)
Subs not used: Hooman, Low
Bristol Rovers FC (3-5-2): Poke (GK); Bolger, Downes, Sawyer; Woodards, Stanley (C), Dorman, Richards, Brown; Zebroski, Anyinsah (McGleish 52)
Subs not used: Cronin (GK), Anthony, Smith, Gill
Referee: Mr. David Phillips
Attendance: 5,288 (1,467 from Bristol)
Robins Star Man:Sido Jombati - Solid performance from the full back but he'll be upset to concede two goals today despite doing well.
James Brown from the Abbey Business Stadium