Cheltenham Town produced a professional performance to dispose of Bristol Rovers this evening and took all three points.
A bright start for Rovers promised much for the hosts this evening but a failure to take their chances finally led to Cheltenham improving and taking the lead through former Rovers striker Chris Zebroski. Both Rovers and Cheltenham had their opportunities to score in the second half but neither made it count but it was all a little comfortable for the Robins with Scott Brown only really being tested once.
Cheltenham Town took their 1-0 lead all the way and bagged an impressive result which stretched a mini-unbeaten run to four games and put them in fifth place. All in all, a good night for the Robins.
Two changes were made to the Cheltenham Town starting eleven ahead of kick off this evening with Kaid Mohamed and Russ Penn replacing the injured Shaun Harrad (calf) and Sam Deering. There were good memories of the Memorial Stadium last season with the Robins running out 3-1 winners. It was also a big night for Chris Zebroski who was starting up front on his return to his former club.
It was a chilly evening warmed by a solid attendance and decent atmosphere within the confines of the Memorial Stadium. A threatening start from Bristol Rovers promised that the hosts would be all too happy to attack the Robins this evening but early danger was halted by former Rovers defender Steve Elliott. Cheltenham's first effort on goal came from another former Rovers man but Chris Zebroski's effort from the corner was comfortably over the bar. The Rovers attack kept building however and Norburn was gifted a shot at goal from 20 yards following some sloppy possession play by Mohamed but fortunately the shot was wide of goal. The hosts saw a penalty appeal turned down after ten minutes when a scramble ensued inside the Robins area but the referee was having anything to with the half-hearted appeals. The sloppy start for Cheltenham continued with Russ Penn misplacing a pass into the path of Riordan but the striker's effort was well blocked by Bennett and gobbled up by Scott Brown.
A wasted freekick from Darren Carter and a yellow card later for Oliver Norburn saw the Robins settling into their usual style of play and Kaid Mohamed almost created a fine opening when a cheeky nutmeg allowed him to break on the Rovers defence and burst into the area only to find the big paw of Neil Etheridge scoop the ball from his feet. Chris Zebroski could have had a dream goal on 25 minutes after a clever turn on the edge of the area but the shot was just short of the post. Efforts from Billy Jones, Derek Riordan and Matt Lund threatened to break the deadlock but it was former Rovers frontman Zebroski that finally did with a great showing of desire. The ball was played up the channel to the striker and some good footwork took him into the box before he prodded the ball home on the second try following a good save by Etheridge. The home crowd erupted with a chorus of boos but Zeb simply ignored and wheeled away in celebration. Mohamed could have added another when he stole the ball off the over-relaxed Etheridge but the winger still found himself with work to do and his eventual shot was blocked by Virgo. 1-0 at half time.
Half Time: Bristol Rovers 0-1 Cheltenham Town
The Robins began this half as they ended the first and Jermaine McGlashan had a good opportunity to test Etheridge early on but his shot was pulled wide of the near post. Broghammer had a wild shot over the bar for Rovers in what was the hosts' first attack of the second half and the German winger was at it again on 56 minutes with a stinging strike testing the gloves of Brown. The Robins number one was needed again just a few moments later when Clarkson fired in a close range volley but Brown produced a stunning save to protect his side's lead. Cheltenham weren't about to roll over for Rovers however and Jermaine McGlashan almost doubled the lead after absolutely flying past Paterson on the left only to see Etheridge make another good stop. The winger had another opportunity following a mini scramble for the goal but it was again blocked and Rovers cleared their lines.
Adam Virgo found himself in the referee's book after a bad challenge on Zebroski who was ploughing his way through the defender's ranks and the striker was clearly enjoying the home fans taunts. McGlashan and Zebroski were both growing into this game more and more as the minutes ticked by and Rovers having to open themselves up more and more. Another former Rovers man almost bagged a goal but Steve Elliott's glancing header from a Jones freekick was well saved by Etheridge and Rovers lived on.
Strikes from Riordan and Eaves ten minutes from time served to remind Brown that he still had a job to do and he did just that with two comfortable saves to ease the pressure on his goal. Mark Yates' first substitution of the game came on 86 minutes and in the form of Darryl Duffy who replaced Jermaine McGlashan. Cheltenham were fairly comfortable at this stage but they almost allowed a lapse in concentration ruin their hard work. A quick freekick beat the defence and Riordn's snap shot had to pushed wide by Brown before the defence cleared their lines.
Scott Brown was required to make another superb save, this time from Gill, to save his team's lead but it was all over soon after with Cheltenham Town doing a good job over local rivals.
Full Time: Bristol Rovers 0-1 Cheltenham Town
Bristol Rovers FC (4-4-2): Etheridge (GK); Lund, Kenneth,Virgo, Paterson (L. Brown 76); Clarkson, Gill, Norburn (W. Brown 76), Broghammer (Richards 62); Riordan, Eaves
Subs not used: Walker (GK), Clucas, Staley, Anyinsah
Cheltenham Town FC (4-2-3-1): Brown (GK); Jombati, Bennett (C), Elliott, Jones; Carter, Pack; McGlashan (Duffy 86), Penn (Deering 90+4), Mohamed (Lowe 90+1); Zebroski
Subs not used: Roberts (GK), Hooman, Graham, Goulding
Referee: Mr. Oliver Langford
Attendance: 5,747 (441 from Cheltenham)
Robins Star Man: Chris Zebroski - Scored on his return to the Memorial Stadium and caused problems all night. Did a good job on a frustrated home crowd.