The Robins slumped to a 4-2 defeat here at Plainmoor this afternoon.
An early defensive mistake allowed Torquay to take the lead through Callum Ball but Cheltenham reacted well and equalised ten minutes later through the head of Byron Harrison. The Robins continued to push and came close to taking the lead through Elliott, Lowe and Harrison but Torquay re-took the lead against the run of play seconds before half time after Ball's effort was deflected in by the unfortunate Elliott. Cheltenham failed to make the start to the second half they needed and Karl Hawley's strike handed Torquay a bigger lead. Th Robins did react and grab a goal back through Terry Gornell but a late strike from Chappell won the game for Alan Knill's Torquay United.
It was back to the drawing board for Cheltenham and hopefully the comforts of home next weekend versus AFC Wimbledon.
An expected team was named by Mark Yates as he rewarded an improved performance against Oxford with an unchanged starting team here at Torquay United's Plainmoor. The only change occured on the bench with Steven Gillespie returning to parent club Fleetwood Town and fit again Jamie Cureton replacing him following a calf injury. For club captain Steve Elliott it was a game in which he could celebrate the milestone of his 150th Cheltenham Town apperance although come kick off that would have been the furthest thing from his mind.
Both Torquay and Cheltenham were level on points with similar league positions but a win for either would see a generous boost to their points tally. It was the Gulls who made an early attempt at goal straight from kick off and a neat attacking move from the hosts almost saw a shot on target for Ben Harding but the midfielder's 20 yard effort was over the bar. The Gulls continued to press and once again it was a defensive mistake that shot Cheltenham Town in the foot. Matt Richards got caught in possession on the edge of the area and his pass back towards Jombati missed the full back and Torquay were on the loose ball in seconds with Brown off his line. Callum Ball picked up on the possession and slipped the ball into the back of the net for 1-0 and early foothold. Mistakes in the backline were very much the story of the season so far for the Robins and they needed to dig deep if they were to bounce back from the early blow. Torquay could have had another minutes later when Chappell's shot took a major deflection of Gornell and almost dipped into the net but Brown palmed the ball over the bar just in time.
In truth Cheltenham were showing positive signs going forward and when McGlashan was felled 25 yards from goal it gave the Robins a chance to get themselves back into the game. David Noble's quickly passed the set piece to Keith Lowe and his cross found a completely unmarked Byron Harrison who calmly headed the ball into the back of the net for the equaliser. Now the momentum was with Cheltenham and Martin Rice was forced into a very good save when a long ball was headed down by Harrison into the path of Gornell and his shot on goal was blocked by the incoming shot stopper. The performances of both Harrison and McGlashan were major positives for the Robins but it was two defenders who almost gave the Robins a lead. A corner found the head of Elliott and his header was well saved by Rice in the Torquay but Keith Lowe was quickly upon the rebound with an overhead kick which cannoned back off the bar much to Cheltenham's frustration. Torquay had loose efforts throughout the first half but their best opportunity to re-take the lead came when Chappell stole possession from Wilson and played a neat pass into Bodin. The winger shot for Brown's near post but Jombati was on hand to clear the ball off the line and Brown pounced on the loose ball quickly. Minutes later an effort from Lee Mansell drew a good save from Scott Brown in what was the best spell of pressure for the hosts in this first half but Cheltenham stood strong and denied every attack.
Cheltenham continued to push and hound and they came close again on 43 minutes. David Noble's through ball found McGlashan and his cross across goal was met by Harrison but his effort was just wide of the post. Noble was shown a yellow card just shy of half time for a heavy challenge on Harding and the Torquay midfielder wasted his freekick with a tame drop shot into the box which was comfortably caught by Scott Brown. Two minutes added time were signalled by the fourth official and the Gulls were soon thankful for the extra minutes. Callum Ball's hopeful shot on goal in the final minute of added time took a big deflection off Steve Elliott and bounced inside the near post leaving Brown with no chance. Torquay had the lead right before half time and Cheltenham were left cursing their luck.
Half Time: Torquay United 2-1 Cheltenham Town
The message at half time would have been to keep it tight in the second half but Cheltenham were another goal down after just a few minutes with Gulls striker Karl Hawley finding the gap and firing the ball low and beyond Brown for 3-1. Brown was unsighted but the defence once again were caught short. Mark Yates couldn't have wished for a worse start to the second half but the Robins brushed themselves down and went in search of a way back into the game. Steve Elliott saw a headed effort go wide from a corner on 54 minutes but still Torquay found space and pressed but Karl Hawley's second attempt at goal was very much wide.
Ashley Vincent was introduced on the hour at the expense of Matt Richards and Cheltenham had an opportunity shortly after with Russ Penn fouled by Cruise. Keith Lowe stepped up to take the freekick on the far right but Harrison could only manage a header high back up into the air and eventually the ball feel to Elliott who thumped a volley well wide of it's target. The signs were positive though and Cheltenham soon gave themselves a glimmer of hope when Penn's pass found Gornell through on goal and the striker slipped his effort through the legs of Rice to give Cheltenham hope. It was a good goal but there was still work to be done.
It wasn't going to be easy for the Robins and Scott Brown had to make a superb save on 68 minutes when Harding thumped a long range drive at goal but the Cheltenham number one's fingers were able to steer it away for a corner. Torquay withdrew their danger man of the moment Karl Hawley and replaced him with the equally dangerous Elliott Benyon on 71 minutes but it was Cheltenham who were doing the pressing. Ashley Vincent's shot threatened Torquay's goal little but Mark Yates opted to introduce both Jason Taylor and Jamie Cureton into the action ten minutes from time in an effort to win back something from this game. Torquay again came close on 82 minutes but Sido Jombati's last ditch block denied Chappell and Torquay a goal but the Robins were soon back putting pressure on the hosts again as the final minutes of an entertaining clash approached.
Cheltenham needed to react but it was Torquay who slammed the nail into their hopes of getting anything from the game when a through ball found the quick feet of Chappell and the winger stroked a lovely shot past Brown to make it 4-2 and all but win the game for the Gulls. Cheltenham were fresh out of idea but still pushed on desperately looking for anything they could to try and drag themselbes back into the game with four minutes added time issued. The clock ticked down however and the Robins were making no progress and their fate was finally sealed as the full time whistle blew on a disappointing day.
Full Time: Torquay United 4-2 Cheltenham Town
Torquay United FC (4-4-2): Rice (GK); Tonge, Downes, Pearce, Cruise; Chappell, Mansell (C), Harding, Bodin; Ball, Hawley (Benyon 71)
Subs not used: Thompson (GK), Nicholson, Lathrope, Craig, Cameron, Sullivan
Cheltenham Town FC (4-4-2): Brown (GK); Lowe, Wilson, Elliott, Jombati; Penn (C), Noble (Taylor 79), Richards (Vincent 60), McGlashan; Gornell (Cureton 79), Harrison
Subs not used: Roberts (GK), Deering, Kotwica
Referee: Mr. Darren Deadman
Attendance: 2,407 (247 from Cheltenham)
Star Man: Byron Harrison