A night to forget for Cheltenham as Chesterfield ran out 4-1 victors here at the Proact Stadium tonight.
Two goals in each half for the hosts put Cheltenham's defence to the sword and the Robins never really capitalised on a brief glimmer of hope coming through Mohamed's headed goal.
Chesterfield started on the front foot in this game and a good spell of pressure led to Chris Atkinson's opener and the hosts doubled that lead moments before half time when Sam Togwell headed in a rebounded strike from Darikwa after seeing it cannon back off the bar. Kaid Mohamed's headed goal handed Cheltenham a lifeline in the second half but goals from Marc Richards and Jack Lester knocked Cheltenham out of this contest and sealed three points for the hosts.
There was just the one change for Cheltenham Town tonight as they set out to take all three points at the Proact Stadium. Jeff Goulding replaced Jermaine McGlashan and led the attack from the front while Chris Zebroski slipped out wide. There were no other changes to a team that had lost to Rotherham a few days earlier but Mark Yates was expecting a reaction. The Robins had never beaten Chesterfield before and they had only ever scored twice against the Spireites with both of those goals coming courtesy of Damien Spencer ten years earlier in 2002. Unwanted records are there to be broken and the Robins were keen to do so this evening.
Both teams were keen to come away with maximum points in this game with the Spireites looking to build upon their win over Oxford and the Robins keen to bounce back from defeat. It was the hosts that brought about the first shot of the game following a freekick on the left wing conceded by Marlon Pack who had introduced his boot to Danny Whitaker's face. The long range volley following the freekick was far from on target however and Cheltenham were able to play on unscathed. Chestefield had another opportunity a few minutes later when Dickenson found his way into the area but wasted the opportunity with his shot blasted over the bar. The effort being missed was perhaps a blessing in disguise for the referee after he got in the way of Cheltenham's passage of play and handed possession to Chesterfield. Cheltenham were having to put up with some decent pressure and it finally paid dividends for the hosts when Darikwa broke down the right before laying a pass back into the path of Atkinson who distributed his effort past Brown and into the bottom corner for the lead.
Not the best of starts for Cheltenham and Chris Zebroski being yellow carded for a sloppy foul five minutes later didn't exactly relieve the frustration. Cheltenham's first shot on target came courtesy of a Marlon Pack freekick on 27 minutes but the strike was tame enough for Tommy Lee to gather up. The Robins had settled into their game a little but their best spell, which involved a dogy header back across goal by Talbot and a volley from Mohamed, we scrambled to safety by Chesterfield. It was better stuff from Cheltenham who were now pressing themselves but Scott Brown was needed on 40 minutes to drop low and save a low drive from Dickensen. Despite the Robins' slight recovery they found themselves conceding again on the stroke of half time when Zebroski gave the ball away and handed the hosts a counter attack. Chesterfield burst forward and winger Darikwa struck the bar with a devilish strike but Togwell was on hand to head the ball in on the rebound although there were calls for offside. 2-0 Chesterfield and the Robins needed to react and quickly.
Half Time: Chesterfield 2-0 Cheltenham Town
Jermaine McGlashan was stripped and ready for action at the start of this half and he replaced Darren Carter signalling a formation change to 4-4-2. Cheltenham began well but it was Chestefield who almost grabbed a third when Darikwa knocked the ball back to Talbot but his effort was wide of goal. Chesterfield keeper Tommy Lee was needed down the other end when a corner was met by the head of Bennett but the effort was straight into the gloves of Lee. It had suddenly become end to end and Brennan Dickenson saw a 20 yard drive fly wide of the post after a well worked counter. Chesterfield were picking up their game and their cut backs on the right wing were really doing some damage with Whitaker the latest player to strike a shot over the bar from a right wing attack.
McGlashan was brought on at hgalf time to inspire the Robins and there were penalty calls when the winger appeared to be brought down inside the area following good work from Mohamed and Goulding but it had little substance and the referee waved play on. Cheltenham were playing better and they grabbed a vital foothold in the game after 57 minutes from a corner. Billy Jones floated a pinpoint set piece into the box and Kaid Mohamed rose well to head it in past Lee and hand Cheltenham their first goal versus Chesterfield in ten years. It was certinly a way back into the game for Mark Yates' men but that glimmer of hope was soon blown out by former Port Vale striker Marc Richards. The ball was lifted over to the striker from the left and he made no mistake in smashing it past Brown for 3-1 and restoring Chesterfield's two goal cushion. That goal was quickly followed by Chesterfield's first substitution with Whitker being replaced by Craig Clay.
A bitter pill for the Robins but they kept plugging away and a voley from Keith Lowe could have hit straight back had it been a little lower following another dangerous corner which was headed across goal by Bennett. Former Fulham and Arsenal midfielder Luis Boa Morte replaced Brennan Dickenson for Chesterfield with 20 minutes to go and that was closely followed by Jack Lester replacing Marc Richards four minutes later. That latter substitution proved incredibly beneficial when a corner was thumped towards the back post and Lester bundled the ball into the back of the net for 4-1 and for what looked like the win.
Darryl Duffy was brought on ten minutes from time in place of Chris Zebroski and the Scot was lively but still Chesterfield continued to pressure and search for more goals. Jack Lester should have done better with an angled effort three minutes from time abd the Spireites also saw a freekick from Togwell driven into the thankful arms of Brown. Thefull time whistle blew on a forgettable night for Cheltenham Town and now they look ahead to Barnet at home for their recovery.
Full Time: Chesterfield 4-1 Cheltenham Town
Chesterfield FC (4-4-1-1): Lee (GK); Talbot, Cooper, Hird (C), Smith; Darikwa, Togwell, Whitaker (Clay 63), Dickenson (Boa Morte 70); Atkinson; Richards (Lester 74)
Subs not used: O'Donnell (GK), Townsend, Forbes, O'Shea
Cheltenham Town FC (4-2-3-1): Brown (GK); Lowe, Bennett (C), Elliott, Jones; Carter (McGlashan 46), Pack; Zebroski (Duffy 80), Penn, Mohamed; Goulding (Harrad 68)
Subs not used: Roberts (GK), Andrew, Hanks, Deering
Referee: Mr. Graham Salisbury
Attendance: 4,333 (128 from Cheltenham)
Robins Star Man: Russ Penn - Not the best of nights for anyone but Penn was dogged and giving what he could in midfield.