Cheltenham took a point this evening with an entertaining 0-0 draw at league leaders Gillingham.
A feisty first half was controlled by the Robins midfield but a stronger Gillingham performance in the second half tested the defence but they passed with flying colours to earn a point.The first half was as feisty as you would have expected with both sides coming close the breaking the deadlock but as half time appeared, there were no leaders. There were no goals in the second half either but a wonderful defensive performance from Cheltenham ensured it was a well deserved point.
A point gained and the first team to achieve a clean sheet here at the Priestfield.Mark Yates was managing his 150th game as Cheltenham Town manager this evening
in a fixture that saw the Robins take on his predecessor. Martin Allen's Gillingham fly high at the peak of npower League Two but with both side's in familiar form - it was bound to be an entertaining affair. For Cheltenham it was a familiar line-up with Zebroski leading the attack in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Darren Carter, Sido Jombati and Russell Penn all returned for npower League Two action.
It was a bitterly cold evening but a top of the table clash was likely to warm things up here at the Priestfield Stadium. It was Cheltenham who took the first opportunity on goal this evening but Zebroski's effort was just over the bar and unlucky not to have hit the target. Every time Gillingham were on the attack they were looking to get those crosses into the box but Elliott and Bennett had their heads to the ball every time. Cheltenham were doing their fair share of attacking however and Russ Penn could have opened the goal account tonight had Nelson not made a good save from his header after 13 minutes.The Robins were playing well in the early stages and a long throw from Pack caused a moment of panic for the Gills as both Marlon and Mohamed struck at goal but a mixture of a scrambled defence and a strong hand from Nelson denied both.
One person who was getting involved tonight was Russ Penn as he caused continued problems for the Gills in midfield. His work led to the first yellow card of the night for Jack Payne and several other fouls were called against the hosts as he anchored Cheltenham. It was really quite feisty in midfield and Darren Carter, who had just missed a volley at the other end, was booked for dragging down an opponent although it was a little harsh. Gillingham weren't without their threats however and it was coming through long balls or crosses into the box.
Adam Barrett almost put the hosts ahead but his driven header was drilled wide of the near post. The Robins were pushing but another Russ Penn header failed to hit the target and the Gills remained unbroken. It was however the Gills that carved out the best opportunity of this half when Payne's driven shot forced Brown into a parried save and Kedwell, with an open goal, hit his rebound onto the bar. A shocking miss and a let off for Cheltenham.
Gillingham 0-0 Cheltenham Town
Cheltenham were immediately on the attack in this half but Jermaine McGlashan had perhaps a lucky escape early on when he flew into a challenge on Davies which could have warranted a yellow card but it was just a warning from the referee who seemed keen to keep a lid on any tension. Gillingham felt the need to make a change on 53 minutes and it was the experienced forward Deon Burton to replace the booked Jack Payne. Gillingham had a good opportunity to test Brown at his near post when Alan Bennett
's poor clearance led to an opportunity but Myles Weston failed to hit the target with his close ranged volley. Billy Jones was booked for a foul on Whelpdale on 57 minutes and Scott Brown was forced into a superb save from the resulting freekick. The set piece found Barrett but the Gills captain was left frustrated as Brown expertly parried it away from danger.
The hosts looked stronger in this half and were looking to make any kind of pressure count against the stubborn Robins. They had a good opportunity when Russ Penn was adjudged to have made a foul 20 yards from goal and the referee handed Gillingham a dangerous freekick but Billy Jones' calf deflected the ball out for a throw from what was a pretty awful strike. Cheltenham had a great opportunity to grab a goal on 73 minutes when McGlashan's floated cross was dropped by Nelson but Carter couldn't finish although there were shouts for a penalty with the midfielder seemingly being pulled back. Gillingham had their own great chance minutes later when substitute Deon Burton missed a diving header by inches. Once again it was a game full of fouls on the tricky Jermaine McGlashan and Lewis Montrose was booked for a late challenge on the winger as he burst through the centre of midfield.
Jeff Goulding was introduced for Kaid Mohamed on 81 minutes as the Robins continued to push for a goal. Adam Barrett came close again for Gillingham from a corner but the Cheltenham defence were having a superb game and really deserved a clean sheet. Russell Penn was replaced by Sam Deering with minutes left on this match and Gillingham also replaced Danny Kedwell with Adam Birchall. It was end to end stuff in the dying moments of this game but a McGlashan foul and yellow card gave Gillingham a dangerous freekick opportunity which led to a tense corner but once again the terrific Cheltenham defence stood tall and cleared their lines.
A great game but no goals as the whistle called time on 90 minutes. Cheltenham were the first team to come here this season and keep a clean sheet and not doubt this would prove a massive point gained against the league leaders.
Gillingham 0-0 Cheltenham Town
Gillingham FC (4-4-2):
Nelson (GK); Fish, Davies, Barrett (C), Frampton; Whelpdale, Payne (Burton 53), Montrose, Vincelot; Weston (Jackman 74), Kedwell (Birchall 87)
Subs not used:
Forecast (GK), Flanagan, Hare, Strevens
Cheltenham Town FC (4-2-3-1):
Brown (GK); Jombati, Elliott, Bennett (C), Jones; Carter, Pack; McGlashan, Penn (Deering 87), Mohamed (Goulding 81); Zebroski
Subs not used:
Roberts (GK), Lowe, Andrew, Harrad, Duffy
Mr. Fred Graham
6,096 (109 from Cheltenham)
Robins Star Man:
Sido Jombati - Defensively superb and caused problems in attack too. The whole defence were superb.