Cheltenham Town slumped to a fourth successive defeat at the hands of Shrewsbury this evening.
The performance was an improvement on the weekend's defeat but a Shrews goal after just 45 seconds knocked the wind out of Cheltenham. They reacted well and probably looked the better side especially at the beginning of the second half but a Jack Butland mistake and a quick reaction strike from Terry Gornell blew any hopes of a revival out of the water.
Cheltenham huffed and puffed but couldn't break down a Shrewsbury side who remain unbeaten at the Greenhous Meadow Stadium this season.
Mark Yates made just two personnel changes to his starting XI following the disappointing defeat to Gillingham with both Keith Lowe and Jimmy Spencer recalled.
Jermaine McGlashan and Darryl Duffy were the players to make way with Lowe sitting in at right back and Spencer up front by himself. Sido Jombati was pushed into an advanced wingers role in an effort to shake the Shrews defence.
The evening's game couldn't have started much worse for Cheltenham Town with Shrewsbury's first attack of the night leading to the first goal. It took just 45 seconds before Nicky Wroe picked up the pass from James Collins and the midfielder planted his effort past Butland for 1-0. It was a bitter start to proceedings and it could have been 2-0 when McAllister fired a fiery drive just past Butland's near post.
A clash of heads between Jombati and Grandison brough a short break in play before Sido returned to action complete with bandage across his head. The first effort of the evening from Cheltenham was on eight minutes and it came from Russ Penn but the 20 yarder floated harmlessly over the bar. Cheltenham did start to settle into this game a little more after what had been a horror start but the hosts certainly looked a handful when they were on the break. The ideal opportunity for an equaliser was wasted when Luke Summerfield headed a free effort into the hands of Chris Neal following the corner. A missed chance but much more positive from the Robins.
Luke Summerfield was booked 26 minutes after an apparent foul on Mark Wright in the counter attack although it looked a fair shoulder to shoulder challenge and just a reaction to the crowd's protests. Marlon Pack came close on 32 minutes when he took advantage of Shrewsbury protests to a freekick and slammed a ball long towards the goal but it was just over the bar. The Robins were growing in confidence everytime they went on the attack and a goal for Mark Yates' side at this point really would have been a foothold in what was a massive game in the League Two promotion race.
Shrewsbury were still threatening however and a James Collins run from the halfway line drew a comfortable save from Butland on 40 minutes. It was fast becoming a fiesty end to end game and Spencer was certainly throwing his weight about in the forward role. The young Huddersfield loanee won a freekick 20 yards from goal but Garbutt's effort was edge away by a Shrewsbury head. The corner only led to a Shrewsbury counter attack but a close range effort from Collins drew an unbelievable save from Butland before Pack acrobatically cleared the ball from the rebound effort. Wonder save from the England U21 international. That was the last real event of the half with Cheltenham going in at the break much improved following a dramatic first 45 seconds.
Half Time: Shrewsbury 1-0 Cheltenham
404 noisy supporters had made the trip for this match and you would hope that Cheltenham could build on their decent efforts from the first half to pull themselves back in this game. They started on top and were frantically trying ti find their way through a defense not used to soaking up so much pressure. Russ Penn almost brought about the equaliser with an on target overhead kick but it was cleared from danger quickly. Another attempt of an overhead kick from Jombati was missed moments later before Cansdell-Sherriff saw yellow for a reckless challenge on Spencer but the freekick came to nothing despite a nervy looking Shrews defence.
It was Shrewsbury however that dealt the first blow of this half when Taylor's low cross was spilt by Jack Butland and Terry Gornell capitalised by stealing the loose ball and poking it into the back of the net for 2-0. An uncharateristic mistake from Butland which was followed by an arm round the shoulder from his club captain Steve Elliott. Cheltenham immediately went on the attack but a Kaid Mohamed effort on the far was struck straight into the stand. Terry Gornell came close once again when Butland was forced to parry an effort out into a dangerous area but the striker narrowly missed the connection and Cheltenham breathed easy.
Luke Garbutt was booked on 65 minutes when he brought down Grandison in an effort to halt the counter attack. It was frustrating stuff for Cheltenham Town and Mark Yates opted to bring Darryl Duffy on after 72 minutes for Marlon Pack. That change was followed up by the appearances of both Jermaine McGlashan and Josh Low in place of Luke Garbutt and Kaid Mohamed after 76 minutes.
It was all running to an uneasy finish for Cheltenham but salt was rubbed into the wound when James Collins dived following a coming together with Bennett in an effort to draw the booking from the referee. Pathetic show of unsportsmanship from the Shrew striker that was quite simply not needed. The match had become a bit of a non-event since the second goal with Cheltenham struggling to break down the Shrews.
Elliott was booked late on for dissent, there was a late strike from Jimmy Spencer and another booking for Penn but the game drew to a close at 2-0 and a fourth successive defeat for Cheltenham Town. Frustrating stuff with Cheltenham now in urgent need of a revival of form.
Full Time: Shrewsbury 2-0 Cheltenham
Shrewsbury Town FC (4-4-2): Neal (GK); Grandison, Sharps, Cansdell-Sherriff, Richards; Taylor, McAllister, Wroe, Wright; Collins, Gornell (Morgan 87)
Subs not used: Jacobson, Smith, McLaughlin, Sawyers
Cheltenham Town FC (4-5-1): Butland (GK); Lowe, Bennett (C), Elliott, Garbutt (McGlashan 76); Jombati, Summerfield, Pack (Duffy 72), Penn, Mohamed (Low 76); Spencer
Subs not used: Smikle, Goulding
Referee: Mr. Andy Woolmer
Attendance: 5,705 (404 from Cheltenham)
Robins Star Man:Russ Penn - Showed real drive and commitment during the game and he was a real commander for Cheltenham when frustration kicked in.
James Brown from the Abbey Business Stadium