Rotherham United ended Cheltenham's good run of form with a 4-2 win here this afternoon.
Five goals in the first half signalled an entertaining game but a winner at the death confirmed all three points for the Millers and a loss for the Robins.
If you wanted action that the New York Stadium was the place to be with five goals being scored within 40 minutes. Keith Lowe opened the scoring for the Robins but goals from Nardiello (2) and Pringle put the hosts in front before Chris Zebroski fired Cheltenham back into the contest. The second half was lacking the goals but not the entertainment but Rotherham won the game at the death with a Frecklington finish confirming defeat for Mark Yates' Cheltenham.
It was a first trip to the brand new New York Stadium for Cheltenham Town and a trip that they would have liked to make memorable for all the right reasons. Mark Yates did have a slection blow earlier in the week when Sido Jombati went in for an operation on a double hernia meaning Keith Lowe stepped into his favoured right back role this afternoon. There were no other selection dilemmas for the Robins however and they named an otherwise unchanged squad. There was also an old friend on the bench for Rotherham but Kayode Odejayi was very much the opposition this afternoon.
The Robins were keen to make an early impact this afternoon and they certainly did that and it was through the prolific Keith Lowe. An early Billy Jones corner found the right back completely unmarked and his volley was fired into the bottom corner for 1-0. A terrible start for the hosts but it proved not to be for long. A Rotherham attack led to a deep cross which was met by the head of Nardiello and in past Brown for 1-1. A mad opening to this fixture and one that neither manager would have been happy with.
It was end to end stuff and you really couldn't take your eyes off it but Rotherham could have found themselves in front after 18 minutes had Lee Frecklington's drive not edged just wide of the near post. The Millers had reacted well to initally going 1-0 down and they completely turned that early hiccup round when Ben Pringle picked up possession on the edge of the area and fired in past Brown for 2-1. Not what Cheltenham would have wanted here at the New York Stadium although Steve Elliott came close to an equaliser with his header from Jones' corner.
The Robins had been hit pretty hard by a Rotherham who were looking very good going forward. A long ball from Morgan found Nardiello in the defensive line of the Robins and the striker skipped past Steve Elliott before firing his shot past Brown for 3-1. The Millers were flying but literally minutes later Chris Zebroski fired the Robins back into the game after Carter's floated pass found McGlashan and the wingers shot was deflected into the path of the striker. It was 3-2 and goals galore here in Rotherham! It was turning into an unpredictable afternoon but Rotherham could have restored their two goal cushion had Nardiello's superb strike hit the target on 37 minutes but Brown was untested and Cheltenham turned their attentions onto attack.
Rotherham suffered a blow before half time with Craig Morgan going off injured following a clash with Zebroski and he was replaced by Michael O'Connor. The Millers took their one goal lead in at the break with the Robins needing to react in the second period.
Half Time: Rotherham United 3-2 Cheltenham Town
The tempo of this game was just as it was in the first half but there were no extremely goals this time around although Frecklington could have had an effort on target had a heavy touch not gifted Billy Jones the ball after the midfielder did so well to dispossess Marlon Pack in his own half. It was a fesity game too but the referee had avoided showing any cards up until 56 minutes when O'Connor was shown a yellow for a late challenge on Carter. The referee was involved himself minutes later when he got in Darren Carter's way when the midfielder was chasing down a loose ball! A patch of Rotherham pressure signalled a double change from Mark Yates and it was Jeff Goulding and Shaun Harrad on to replace Russ Penn and Kaid Mohamed.
It was an intriguing game and both sides were really going for it amongst a noisy atmosphere. A diving header from Shaun Harrad proved far too tame and an ambitious lob from Nardiello landed on the roof of Brown's net as both sides looked to grab a goal. Marlon Pack was shown a yellow card on 69 minutes when he bodychecked O'Connor and the mischief continued when Frecklington took a dive in the Robins area despite Elliott stepping out of the way of any contact. Jeff Goulding came close on 73 minutes but his header from Lowe's long throw was just above the cross bar and Rotherham's lead remained steady. The midfielder had a deflected effort well held by Brown on 76 minutes and the Robins now had 15 minutes to find an equaliser but Rotherham so far were standing strong.
Jermaine McGlashan was shown a yellow after kicking the ball away in anger following a handball shout from the referee and he was soon replaced by Sam Deering. The little midfielder almost created the chance Cheltenham needed with an outstanding cross which was met by the head of Goulding but Harrad's effort was well blocked by Sharps and Rotherham hung on. Former Robins Kayode Odejayi made his entrance on 83 minutes but it was Cheltenham that continued to push in search of an equaliser. A long range effort from Sam Deering was wide of the mark and the minutes were slowly but surely ticking down leaving Cheltenham with little chance to grab anything from this game. The Millers stood strong though and they grabbed a winner courtesy of Frecklington in the dying moments of the game. The Robins have the ball away in their own hald and Revell supplied the midfielder with a chance to which he took wholeheartedly. The full time whistle blew with the Robins suffering their first loss in four league games. It was a battle but Cheltenham will fight another day.
Full Time: Rotherham United 4-2 Cheltenham Town
Rotherham United FC (4-4-2): Warrington (GK); Bradley, Sharps (C), Morgan (O'Connor 45), Morris; Pringle, Taylor, Frecklington, Cameron (Walker 90+4); Revell, Nardiello (Odejayi 84)
Subs not used: Thompson (GK), Rose, Evans, Rooney
Cheltenham Town FC (4-2-3-1): Brown (GK); Lowe, Bennett (C), Elliott, Jones; Carter, Pack; McGlashan (Deering 80), Penn (Goulding 59), Mohamed (Harrad 59); Zebroski
Subs not used: Roberts (GK), Andrew, Hanks, Duffy
Referee: Mr. D. Sheldrake
Attendance: 6,705 (311 from Cheltenham)
Robins Star Man: Chris Zebroski - He battled well and got himself a goal. Decent performance.