Cheltenham Town lost out to Scunthorpe United with a 2-0 defeat here at Glanford Park this afternoon.
Etienne Esajas' 5th minute opener gave Scunthorpe a solid base to build from and Cheltenham never looked likely to respond in the first half. The second half saw a big improvement from the Robins and they really should have got themselves back into the game but a 90th minute winner from Sam Winnall confirmed a victory for the hosts and another loss for the Robins.
Next up is another away game at Dagenham and a much needed response from a faltering Cheltenham side.
Cheltenham Town named an unchanged side coming into this game with Mark Yates keeping faith with Byron Harrison and Terry Gornell despite Jamie Cureton's late heroics against AFC Wimbledon. Scott Brown made his 250th start for the Robins and of course Jamie Cureton, who started from the bench, needed just one goal to hit 250 career goals. The Iron were seven games unbeaten coming into the fixture and there was a familiar face in the front ranks as former loanee Jimmy Spencer was named in the hosts' starting line-up.
All the talk ahead of this game was about building upon the 1-0 victory over AFC Wimbledon a week earlier but that went out the window after just five minutes with Scunthorpe taking the early lead through winger Etienne Esajas. The former Swindon striker capitalised on a lack of a clearance and struck hard and low from the edge of the area for 1-0. A good effort from the potent winger but the Cheltenham defence would have been disappointed with their defending on that occasion. It was a poor start to the game for the Robins and it could have been worse had Jimmy Spencer not put his effort over the bar from 20 yards. The Robins did start to find their feet on 20 minutes and were showing promise but the Iron stood strong and denied any efforts to get the ball into the box.
A yellow card for David Noble midway through the half added more frustration to a Cheltenham side failing to offer too much in front of goal and Scunthorpe were threatening every time they hit the Robins on the counter. Etienne Esajas once again caused problems 20 minutes from half time with a low drive at goal but Brown was thankfully alert and able to make the save. The first effort of the game for Cheltenham came from Terry Gornell 25 yards from goal but the strikers' shot was over the bar and the Robins continued to search for a way back into the game. The calls from the Cheltenham dug out was to work the two central defenders but it was the hosts who were piling the pressure on and Deon Burton came close on the back post following a promising Scunthorpe attack. In truth, Cheltenham weren't offering much hope and Scunthorpe really should have been 2-0 up on the half hour mark but Jimmy Spencer's rasping shot was well wide.
A series of chances from corners offered a glimmer of hope for Cheltenham but it was Byron Harrison who finally tested Slocombe in the Scunthorpe goal. The powerful striker sped past Mirfin before firing a shot in at goal but Slocombe was off his line quickly and made a decent block to deny the Robins. The Scunthorpe front line continued to haunt the Robins defence but it was actually a Scunthorpe defender who drew a decent save out of Scott Brown. The corner was dropped into the area before Canavan's overhead kick threatened to double the lead but Scott Brown was alert to the opportunity. Scunthorpe's new signing Dave Syers was next up to have a crack at the Cheltenham goal and he did well to dance past two defenders leaving himself a chance on goal but his snatched effort rose too high and floated over the bar.
The half drew to a close with Jason Taylor firing wide in the closing stages but Cheltenham found themselves behind at the break with Scunthorpe in full command.
Half Time: Scunthorpe United 1-0 Cheltenham Town
A big 45 minutes needed from the Robins but it was Scunthorpe who has the early chances in this deciding half. Andy Dawson's freekick was a comfortable collection from Brown but David Syers really should have done better with his header after Esajas' cross dropped towards the back post and he headed wide. A collection of half chances for Cheltenham just past 50 minutes were well blocked by the Scunthorpe defence before Jamie Cureton was introduced as a much needed injection of energy.
That substitution gave Cheltenham a lift and they had a good spell of pressure in front of the Scunthorpe goal but none of the players could get their boot behind the loose ball and Scunthorpe survived. Jamie Cureton had his first chance on goal not long after entering the field of play and it was Harrison who worked hard to find the striker but his effort from a central position could only find the gloves of Slocombe. He would have been disappointed not to have scored but it was much better from Cheltenham.
Cheltenham were controlling matters midway through the half and they really should have had a freekick awarded after Terry Gornell was brought down during a run at goal but the referee claimed there was no foul and allowed play on much to the disgust of the Robins players and fans behind the goal. They were handed a freekick on the far right hand side of the area after McGlashan was brought down unfairly by Dawson. The yellow card was shown but the freekick was well cleared. Scunthorpe came close to reclaiming their control of the game when Syers got onto the end of Hawksridge's devilish cross but it was wide of goal despite the home fans' roars of celebration.
All the signs were pointing to a comeback from Cheltenham but they couldn't get the goal they deserved as the minutes ticked by. Byron Harrison's looping header was a comfortable save for Slocombe and several crosses into the box weren't capitalised upon. The Iron were holding on by the skin of their teeth but Sam Winnall did have the chance to win the game for his team when he pounced upon a cross across goal but the substitute missed it from 6 yards out much to the anger of the home support. Despite that the Iron still held onto their lead despite the best efforts of Cheltenham Town and it was soon game over when Winnall, recovered from his shocking miss, provided the nail into Cheltenham's coffin. Hawkridge's cross across goal found Winnall charging into the area and the striker smashed it in past Brown for 2-0 and game over.
Six additional minutes were added on but the goal had deflated the Robins and they could find no way back into a game which could have so easily been different. The full time whistle confirmed the defeat and Cheltenham were left with a long journey home with no points.
Full Time: Scunthorpe United 2-0 Cheltenham Town
Scunthorpe United FC (4-4-2): Slocombe (GK), Byrne, Mirfin, Canavan, Dawson, Sparrow, Syers, McAllister, Esajas (Hawkridge 66), Spencer (Iwelumo 83), Burton (Winnall 66).
Subs not used: Severn (GK), Waterfall, Howe, Adelakun
Cheltenham Town FC (4-4-2): S. Brown (GK); Lowe (Jombati 84), Wilson, T.Brown, Richards; McGlashan, Taylor, Noble (Cureton 52), Penn (C); Gornell (Kotwica 76), Harrison
Subs not used: Roberts (GK), Elliott, Deering, Vincent
Referee: Mr. Darren Bond
Attendance: 3,191 (130 from Cheltenham)
Star Man: Matt Richards