A big away win and a big three points for Cheltenham Town as they beat Southend 2-1 here at Roots Hall this evening.
Cheltenham took control of this game despite a strong start from Southend and it was Marlon Pack who scored the opener from the penalty spot after Russell Penn was felled in the area. That scoreline was doubled by Paul Benson who capitalised on a poor bit of defending to score his first Cheltenham Town goal.
The second half was a much closer affair with Southend working so hard to get themselves back into the game and they did grab a late goal ti give themselves hope but it was all too late and Cheltenham ran out winners.
Cheltenham Town were in need of a tonic following a disappointing result and performance from the weekend and Mark Yates made three changes in order to achieve just that. Sido Jombati return to the starting eleven at the expense of Billy Jones and Marlon Pack replaced Kaid Mohamed. Byron Harrison also made his first Cheltenham Town start at the expense of Shaun Harrad.
A cold and crisp evening at Roots Hall promised an interesting night of League Two football but it was Southend who very nearly grabbed an early lead through Ben Reeves. The midfielder burst past Steve Elliott but could only place a poor shot into the incoming form of Scott Brown who made the save. They continued to mount the pressure with the next effort, courtesy of Hurst, testing Brown from long range. The hosts were certainly threatening but Cheltenham's first real attack led to the first goal. Paul Benson's excellent hold up play allowed him to find Penn in the area but the Robins' captain was felled with a clumsy Woodyards challenge and the spot kick was awarded. Marlon Pack, who almost moved to Swindon in January, stepped up and expertly slotted home the penalty to give Cheltenham the lead.
That goal was sorely needed by a Cheltenham side who perhaps needed a little shot of confidence and they could have had another five minutes later had McGlashan been slightly quicker onto Benson's through ball but it was a decent save in the end by the brave Paul Smith. Paul Benson had a shot well blocked and Russ Penn saw an effort strike the side netting to further enhance Cheltenham's credentials in this game but Southend were defending well and holding Cheltenham at bay. Southend had their own opportunity to grab a goal through the lively Reeves but once again Scott Brown was quick off his line to close down the space and make a good save.
Southend midfielder Marc Laird had to be withdrawn with injury and was quickly replaced by in form striker Britt Assombalonga but it was the Robins who continued to look more hungry. Cheltenham were in control of the game and they soon poured more misery on the shaky Southend with Paul Benson's first goal for Cheltenham Town. A poor backpass from Spillane allowed Southend-born Paul Benson the opportunity to poke the ball past Paul Smith in goal to give Cheltenham a second goal. It was poor defending by Southend and greeted by an angry Paul Sturrock on the touchline. The hosts didn't allow that goal to get their heads down however and they soon almost grabbed a goal back through Assombalonga but the striker couldn't get a foot onto Reeve's cross across goal.
Half Time: Southend United 0-2 Cheltenham Town
It was a second half of great importance for Cheltenham Town as they looked to get an important win here at Roots Hall but the hosts almost hit back immediately through a Barry Corr header but it proved to be an easy catch for Brown. Cheltenham soon eased back into their football but Southend were looking dangerous on the attack. They even had the ball in the nack of the net on 52 minutes when Brown could only parry Reeves' shot into the path of Assombalonga who duly finished but the linesman had his flag raised for offside. It was a good spell of pressure for Southend and Scott Brown was on hand to make another save, this time from Spillane's flick header, at the near post.
Still the hosts continued to push and a mistake from Michael Hector allowed Barry Corr to steal possession and charge through on goal but his pass to Assombalonga was a poor one and Jombati was quick to steer the ball away from danger. A long range effort from Russell Penn threatened another goal for the Robins but it went wide and Cheltenham made their first substitution of the game with Benson being replaced by Kaid Mohamed. The substitute could have made an instant impact on 63 minutes when Marlon Pack's freekick found him inside the Southend area but his headed effort was straight into the arms of Smith. The home fans were beginning to get frustrated and the noise was growing louder every time a decision negatively affected them but the Robins were taking it all in their stride with Jason Taylor and Marlon Pack doing their best to hold a firm grip on this game.
Southend's time was growing short and Cheltenham were improving in possession as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes. A lofty Kaid Mohamed effort and a Marlon Pack strike both struck high over the bar before Darryl Duffy was introduced in place of the hard working Byron Harrison. Robins number one Scott Brown was booked on 84 minutes for time wasting before captain Russ Penn was withdrawn and replaced by Sam Deering. As much as Southend huffed and puffed, they were really struggling to break down a strong defensive performance from Mark Yates' Robins and Southend again fluffed their lines in front of goal with Reeves' close range effort steered wide of Brown's near post.
Four additional minutes were added onto the 90 minutes in this game and Southend grabbed themselves what proved to be a consolation goal through the impressive Ben Reeves. The Southampton loanee dragged a cross across goal to his right foot and fired his shot into the roof of the net. Southend had their tails up but it was all too little too late for the hosts as the whistle was blown and Cheltenham ran out victors. A solid win marred only by the late goal and lack of a clean sheet but three well earned points for the Robins.
Full Time: Southend United 1-2 Cheltenham Town
Southend United FC (4-4-2): Clohessy (GK), Spillane, Prosser, Straker; Hurst, Laird (Assombalonga 37), Woodyard (Leonard 64), Mayor (Lavery 82); Corr, Reeves.
Subs not used: Bentley (GK), Coughlan, Spicer, Harris
Cheltenham Town FC (4-4-2): Brown (GK); Lowe, Hector, Elliott, Jombati; Penn (Deering 88), Pack, Taylor, McGlashan; Benson (Mohamed 59), Harrison (Duffy 81)
Subs not used: Roberts (GK), McCullough, Jones, Harrad
Referee: Mr. Stuart Attwell
Attendance: 3,822 (86 from Cheltenham)
Robins Star Man: Marlon Pack - Controlled the game well from midfield along with Jason Taylor and got himself a goal from the penalty spot too.