A 72nd header from Shaun Harrad handed Cheltenham Town all three points here at the EBB Stadium this afternoon.
Little happened in the first half except for a ten minute stoppage in play due to heavy rain and lightning but the Shots did waste a number of chances after the break in play and the Robins were happy to go in at the break with a draw. The second half was a tightly contested affair but Shaun Harrad's stooping header handed Mark Yates' team another three points ahead of next week's home match versus Accrington Stanley.
It was a wet thundery afternoon in Aldershot with the heaven's opening ahead of kick off but Mark Yates' Robins were looking to heat things up at the EBB Stadium and continue their strong start to the new season. It was also a big day for Jermaine McGlashan who was returning to his former club since joining the Robins back in January and the winger received a warm welcome from his former club's supporters. There was just one change for Cheltenham with Jeff Goulding replacing Sam Deering possibly because of the height of the host's team. New signing Darren Carter was also present but would have to wait for his debut starting the game from the substitutes bench.
It was a decent start for Cheltenham Town with the Robins grabbing the first opportunity on goal after just six minutes. A Billy Jones cross was met by a totally unmarked Steve Elliott but the defender's headed shot was palmed away by Jamie Young to calm the nerves of the hosts and deny Cheltenham a strong start to the fixture. That start continued and this time it was McGlashan who almost made something happen after linking up well with Jeff Goulding. The former Shots winger skipped past the full back and drove a low pass back inside which was cleared but only to Goulding whose effort was well blocked by Ben Herd. Aldershot weren't without their threats going forward however and Adam Mekki almost snatched the lead when he drove down the wing and fired an angled shot across goal and wide. The Shots had an opportunity on 17 minutes as well when Tonkin's freekick was headed over by Peter Vincenti.
The rain really was lashing down here in Aldershot and the referee took the decision to march the players off the pitch until it had subsided. The rain did calm and the players reappeared to kick this game back off ten minutes after they were withdrawn but Aldershot almost made Cheltenham wish they had left it a few minutes more. Adam Mekki was once again the culprit as slid past Hooman to fire in a left footed drive but Brown was comfortable wit ha pretty poor shot. They were at it again soon after when Jombati's sloppy pass allowed Payne to stroke the ball to the back post but Jordan Roberts' effort proved a shambled and Rankine's follow up was even worse - neither player even connected with the ball. Meanwhile, Dean Holdsworth was having kittens on the sideline with his belief that Cheltenham were being given the rub of the green. Josh Payne and Jordan Roberts both booked so far but for pretty obvious fouls.
A Billy Jones freekick was comfortably saved on 34 minutes as the Robins looked to step it up but the Shots were pouncing upon every single mistake they were making and Rankine should really have hit the target when Goulding made a mess of a back heel and allowed an attack on goal. An ironic applause from the Aldershot fans for the referee arose on 45 minutes when he booked Russ Penn for dragging Vincenti back on a counter attack and from the resulting freekick Vincenti almost headed his side ahead but Brown was alert and pushed the effort away from goal. That missed opportunity meant the scores remained at a stalemate however with an even game being contested.
Half Time: Aldershot 0-0 Cheltenham Town
There seemed to be little mistakes creeping in for both teams during the first half and second period started on the same footing but Cheltenham were able to withstand early pressure from Rankine and co. The Robins settled back into their own football however and it wasn't long before Shaun Harrad had won a foul 20 yards from goal. It was the strike himself that struck the set piece but it was a poor effort and Young was able to watch the shot rise above his bar and out of play. A Russ Penn foul on Mekki on the corner of the area threatened to undo the Robins but Scott Brown was commanding in his area and spared his defence the effort of clearing the ball with a big catch. Minutes later former Robin Guy Madjo was introduced at the expense of jordan Roberts and Peter Vincenti was rightly booked for a foul on McGlashan from which Harry Hooman headed over from Pack's freekick.
It was a new start for Darren Carter as he made his debut for the club as a substitute on 66 minutes having replaced Russ Penn. That extra authority in midfield paid dividends as Cheltenham pushed on and grabbed the opening goal right from under the noses of the Shots. A Billy Jones corner, won by Jombati, was whipped in towards the near post to meet the stooping head of Shaun Harrad. The striker's effort struck the inside of the post and dribbled over the line before it had the chance to be cleared and the Robins stole the lead. That is three in three games for Harrad.
It was only fair that Jermaine McGlashan should get in on the act and he was frustrating his former fans and team mates with some devilish skill on the right wing and eventually a yellow card for Tonkin with left back swiping at the winger. The Robins were perhaps the better side towards the end of this game but Aldershot were still asking questions of the stubborn Cheltenham defence. Hooman and Elliott were doing a superb job of clearing their lines and Brown was having a confident game between the sticks.
Goalscorer Shaun Harrad was withdrawn on 90 minutes and was replaced by Darryl Duffy before Ian Weston was called upon to treat Jeff Goulding who had been left sprawled on the pitch following a heavy collision. The forward seemed okay but was subbed for Keith Lowe in the final few minutes of this game. Substitute Myles Anderson was booked at the death with a pointless and stupid challenge on Jermaine McGlashan which was greeted with a chorus of boos from the home fans but there was no doubting the frustration in that challenge. Cheltenham continued to frustrate their opponents and took all three points on the whistle to continue an unbeaten start to the new league season.
Full Time: Aldershot 0-1 Cheltenham Town
Aldershot Town FC (4-2-3-1): Young (GK); Herd (C), Brown, Bradley, Tonkin; Morris, Payne; Mekki, Vincenti (Anderson 81), Roberts (Madjo 64); Rankine
Subs not used: Lancashire, Bergqvist, Connolly, Morris, Cooksley
Cheltenham Town FC (4-2-3-1): Brown (GK); Jombati, Hooman, Elliott, Jones; Pack (C), Penn (Carter 66); McGlashan, Goulding (Lowe 90+2), Zebroski; Harrad (Duffy 90)
Subs not used: Roberts (GK) Bennett, Deering, Graham
Referee: Mr. Darren Bond
Attendance: 2,166 (208 from Cheltenham)
Robins Star Man: Shaun Harrad - The striker grabbed his third goal in three games from out of nowhere to hand Cheltenham the lead.