Fleetwood struck late to secure a point in an entertaining 2-2 draw which saw a late red card for Robins skipper Alan Bennett.
The Robins had a decent first half and chances for Russ Penn and Jermaine McGlashan came close to opening the scoring but against the run of play Fleetwood struck through David Ball in a goal mouth scramble to peg their hosts back. Cheltenham weren't about to roll over however and they survived early pressure in the second half to finally find an equaliser through Jeff Goulding's first touch of the game since coming on as a sub. It got better for Mark Yates' side with their constant pressure paying dividends when Jombati's diving header from the corner put them ahead. It wasn't to be however and Junior Brown's late strike secured a point for Fleetwood ahead of Alan Bennett
being sent off for apparent violent conduct.
It should have been three but a point is a point and it was true entertainment here this afternoon.
Cheltenham went head to head with Fleetwood Town for the first time here this afternoon in what promised to be a cracker of a match with third and fifth in the league doing battle. Mark Yates opted to name an unchanged side that defeated Bristol Rovers 1-0 in midweek but Shaun Harard did return to the bench following a calf injury. Former Robins striker Steven Gillespie also made his return to the Abbey Business Stadium four years after departing for Colchester although he had to settle for the bench as a substitute.
Both sides were eager to outdo the other here today with both in close proxomity to eachother in the league table and it was the visitors with the first meaningful effort on goal with a Barry Nicholson freekick flying wide of Brown post in the opening minutes. It was clear that Fleetwood were a confident side and they were playing some decent stuff but the Robins remained wary of this unknown opponent. Cheltenham Town weren't to be ruled out however and the Robins were definitely flexing their muscles in the early challenges this afternoon in an effort to let the Cod Army know they were in for a game. Kaid Mohamed was having a good start to the game and the winger had a good effort on 14 minutes with a 20 yard drive but the effort was wide of the goal.
Fleetwood made a very early change and removed their captain McNulty replacing him with Conor McLaughlin after just quarter of an hour. A few minutes later and Shaun Beeley was yellow carded for a shocking challenge on Jermaine McGlashan and from that Zebroski headed wide from a Billy Jones freekick. Jermaine McGlashan had his own opportunity to put Cheltenham ahead when he nipped in front of Beeley but he turned Jones' cross over the bar for a wasted chance. A wild effort from Jombati followed moments later but the right back did really well to skip through the Fleetwood defence only to see his shot rise into the Hazlewoods stand. They had another outstanding opportunity to take the lead on 27 minutes with Zebroski flicking the ball through to Russ Penn who fired a left footed strike in at goal only for it to be well saved by Davies and McGlashan turned the rebound wide.
Those missed chances came back to haunt the Robins on 32 minutes when Junior Brown was able to drive a ball into the area ensuing a goal mouth scramble where Scott Brown did well to initially save but David Ball popped up to put the ball over the line just although it was close to being a goal line save and the Fleetwood were celebrating an opener against the run of play. It was a real blow for Cheltenham who had been controlling the game before the goal but now Fleetwood were looking a lot stronger with their one goal foundation and Cheltenham now had to go back to the drawing board. The Robins were playing some good stuff and they almost created a very good goal with a neat passing manouvre between Carter and Mohamed inside the Fleetwood area but the winger's final strike was wide and the linesman had already raised his flag for offside and so came half time.
Cheltenham Town 0-1 Fleetwood Town
A big performance from the Robins was needed in this half but Fleetwood started well and could have had an early attack on had Russ Penn not made a solid intervention getting smashed in the face in the process. An early freekick opportunity did fall for Cheltenham but Marlon Pack's curling effort was wide of the near post. Fleetwood have a lot of clean sheets so far this season for a reason and they were proving solid here this afternoon again but they could have doubled their lead on 54 minutes had Scott Brown not make a decent save from Junior Brown's lashed effort at goal. The visitors came far to close again when Junior Brown beat Jombati to fire in a strong effort at goal and beat the Cheltenham number one but Steve Elliott was on the line to make the block with his chest.
Mark Yates made his first change of the game and it was a double substitution with Marlon Pack and Kaid Mohamed making way for Shaun Harrad and Jeff Goulding respectively. That change quite simply worked straight away. Zebroski won the corner and the set piece was well won i nthe box by Steve Elliott leaving Jeff Goulding free to prod the ball into the back of the net for the equaliser and his first goal of the season. Confidence was oozing and we even saw a Russ Penn strike from 20 yards which was narrowly over. Steve Gillespie was introduced on 67 minutes and received a good applause from theWhaddon Road faithful but they were almost applauding a second goal for the Robin after Goulding played a superb ball to McGlashan and the wingers cross was just short of Shaun Harrad and picked up by Davies.
The Cod Army needed to change something and so they did with big Jon Parkin replacing Damien Johnson just past 70 minutes but it only got worse for the visitors as the Robins continued their rampage. Billy Jones whipped in a superb corner and Sido Jombati met the cross with a diving header steering it past Davies for 2-1. Great football and a great game.
It wasn't all plain sailing for the Robins however and Fleetwood could have had an equaliser through Jo nParkin after Brown once again beat Jombati but the big striker could only steer it onto the post before Gillespie chipped the rebound over the bar. Billy Jones was in on the action with a devilish freekick that was narrowly wide of the post and that missed effort was quickly followed by the withdrawal of the superb Russ Penn and the inclusion of Keith Lowe. Fleetwood were growing frustrated and so it was proved with Jon Parkin's cynical challenge on Jombati which led to a yellow card.
It was an anxious last few minutes with the fourth official showing four minutes added time and Fleetwood made those extra minutes count with a late strike by Junior Brown following a lack of defensive clearances in the area. It was a bitter blow for the Robins and it got worse with Alan Bennett
being shown red for violent conduct. The score remained the same and it was a point for either side in an entertaining game.
Cheltenham Town 2-2 Fleetwood Town
Cheltenham Town FC (4-2-3-1):
Brown (GK); Jombati, Bennett (C), Elliott, Jones; Carter, Pack (Harrad 62); McGlashan, Penn (Lowe 87), Mohamed (Goulding 62); Zebroski
Subs not used:
Roberts (GK), Hooman, Deering, Duffy
Fleetwood Town FC (4-5-1):
Davies (GK); Beeley, McNulty (C) (McLaughlin 16), Mawene, Goodall; Nicholson, Marrow, Johnson (Parkin 73), McGuire, Johnson; Ball (Gillespie 67)
Subs not used:
Maxwell (GK), Milligan, Fowler, Barkhuizen
Mr. Carl Berry
2,702 (100 from Fleetwood)
Robins Star Man:
Russ Penn - Outstanding performance in the middle of midfield today and bossed Fleetwood all over the pitch.