Cheltenham Town produced a fine professional display to record a 4-1 win over Accrington Stanley this afternoon.
A first half header from Keith Lowe laid the foundations and goals from Burgess, Pack and Mohamed seal the victory in the second period. Bobby Grant had grabbed a consolation goal but the result was beyong doubt with Cheltenham controlling the entire game from start to finish.
A big win for Cheltenham as they look to secure a playoff spot but a big game against Crewe was now on the horizon.
Cheltenham Town made two changes to their starting eleven this afternoon while Accrington made six choosing to trial a few players looking for a contract next season. Marlon Pack returned from suspension to replace Jermaine McGlashanand Darryl Duffy slipped back in up front at the expense of Jimmy Spencer. Sido Jombati serves his final game of a three match ban this afternoon but will be back in contention against Crewe next weekend.
It was a day of investigation for Accrington with a number of untested players but they started well on a day where Cheltenham were expected to win. Ben Burgess was the player to provide the first effort on goal but it was one he would prefer to forget with an ambitious volley striking the top of the Speedy Skips stand and far, far away from the target. A few testing attacks from Cheltenham followed but it was a mis-placed Mohamed pass that set Accrington off o ntheir first attack of the game but Kurtis Guthrie struck a decent shot over the bar.
Luke Garbuttsaw a low freekick effort tipped wide by on loan Wigan keeper Lee Nicholls but it would soon be 1-0 to the Robins when Penn's cross found the flick header of Alan Bennettand an unmarked Keith Lowe made no mistake in heading home his first goal of the season. A vital goal for Cheltenham who have struggled recently to take control of matches early on. Cheltenham weren't about to settle for one solitary goal and Ben Burgesshad a good opportunity a few minutes later as he rose highest for Garbutt's cross only to his thumping header fly wide of goal. It was all Cheltenham at this point and another devilish cross, this time from Mohamed, was inches away from being poked in by Darryl Duffy. Unlucky for the Scot.
Bobby Grant and Will Hatfield tested Butland's prowess with long shots mid-way through the half but the England U21 international seemed comfortable with anything they were throwing his way but it was soon Cheltenham back in the driving seat after Mohamed saw a snap shot pushed away by Nicholls. Accrington weren't out of this game by a long way though and a long ball effort had to be cleared by Butland's knee before the Birmingham loanee was clattered by Kurtis Guthrie. The Stanley striker was booked but maybe a little unlucky as he had every right going for the ball.
41 minutes and Cheltenham could have been further ahead following some fluid passing play but Ben Burgess' backpost header from Lowe's cross was just over the bar. A long range drive from Marlon Packwas pretty much the last action of a decent half of football. Cheltenham looked good value for their lead with another 45 minutes to go.
Half Time: Cheltenham 1-0 Accrington Stanley
An early clearance from Keith Lowe denied Accrington a decent opportunity very early on in this half but it wasn't long before the Robins had settled into their own game again. A decent attack led to a Russ Penn opportunity inside the area but he was unable to get any power behind his shot and Lee Nicholls was able to collect with ease. The Robins were rampant and a lung bursting run from Ben Burgess led to a one on one opportunity for Duffy but the Scot saw his effort pounded away by Nicholls. Mohamed picked up on the loose ball and set up Pack but his effort was tiped over the bar by Nicholls once again. The Accrington keeper more than keeping his team in the game.
At the rate of play Cheltenham were playing at then it wouldn't have been long before they grabbed a second and that proved true when Keith Lowe's searching cross found Ben Burgess who glided through the air with a diving header and headed home Cheltenham's second and his first for the club. Cheltenham Town were cruising and showed no signs of stopping.
Accrington made a double substitution after 62 minutes to counter Cheltenham's dominance but they could only watch on in horror as Marlon Pack curled a low freekick in at the far post seconds later although Lee Nicholls should be asking questions of himself in the Stanley goal. A superb goal for Marlon Pack on his return to action and game over for the visitors.
Cheltenham's first substitution of the day came on 67 minutes when Burgess was replaced by Jimmy Spencer. The big Notts County loanee got a big applause from the home crowd following his first goal for the Robins. The closest Accrington came to scoring came on 70 minutes but Bobby Hrant's 20 yard snap shot was completely wayward and came close to reaching the In2Print stand on the far side. Cheltenham could have and perhaps should have made it four when a long cross was met by the head of Elliott but Duffy was unable to turn it in before Bennett put it wide amongst a mound of bodies.
Birthday boy Jermaine McGlashan was introduced 74 minutes into the game in place of the wonderful Russ Penn who will be very pleased with his dominating display in midfield. Against the run of play Accrington stole a goal when Hatfield slipped a low cross into the box allowing Bobby Grant to poke it in from close range. Hardly a celebration from the Accrington players as they went in search for an unlikely comeback.
Brian Smikle was introduced as a replacement for Duffy after 78 minutes with Cheltenham looking to secure a vital win but it could have got a little more tense if a long clearance from Stanley found Amond through the middle through on goal but Garbutt produced outstanding pace to nip ahead of the striker and clear the ball for a corner. Things got deisty on 85 minutes when Nsiala was booked for quite literally putting Spencer in a headlock following a clash between the two moments earlier. Shambolic defending from the Everton loanee although Spencer had to be warned about his conduct too.
A long rang effort from Mohamed on 88 minutes signalled the intention fof a Cheltenham fourth but it was a wayward shot and struck one of the few Stanley supporters in the Hazlewoods stand. The winger did bag a goal himseld however one minute into injury time when he pounced upon the loose ball following Summerfield's striker being saved by Nicholls. 4-1 was the score and that goal added extra gloss to a professional performance.
Full Time: Cheltenham 4-1 Accrington Stanley
Cheltenham Town FC (4-4-2 Diamond): Butland (GK); Lowe, Bennett (C), Elliott, Garbutt; Pack, Penn (McGlashan 74), Summerfield, Mohamed; Burgess (Spencer 67), Duffy (Smikle 78)
Subs not used: Low, MacLean
Accrington Stanley FC (4-2-3-1): Nicholls (GK); Lindfield, Nsiala, Willis, Liddle; Joyce (C), Hughes (Barnett 62); Evans (Amond 62), Hatfield, Grant; Guthrie (McIntyre 66)
Subs not used: Dunbavin (GK), Murphy
Referee: Mr. Iain Williamson
Attendance: 3,217 (45 from Accrington)
Robins Star Man: Keith Lowe - He scored, he got an assist and he defended really well today. Very impressive stuff from Lowe.
James Brown from the Abbey Business Stadium