A frustrating afternoon for Cheltenham Town as they drew 2-2 with York City in another game in which 3 points should have been taken.
It all started so well for the Robins when Byron Harrison bundled the ball over the line 11 minutes into the game from Matt Richards' corner but the opener was cancelled out 8 minutes later when a corner, this time for York, was met by the head of Bowman against the run of play. Cheltenham did re-take their lead minutes before half time however when a Matt Richards freekick flew straight in past Michael Ingham although York were furious the goal stood with Troy Brown seemingly stand in an offside position and, in their eyes, interfering with play. A mistake from Sido Jombati allowed Bowman to grab a second of the afternoon and hand York an equaliser firmly against the run of play.
That's how the scores stayed and Cheltenham were left frustrated and angry at the end of a game they really should have won.
Mark Yates made just the one change to his Cheltenham Town starting XI ahead of another big game here at the Abbey Business Stadium. Jamie Cureton was drafted in at the expense of Terry Gornell who could consider himself unlucky to lose his spot in the team. Absentees included Steve Elliott (knee), Jermaine McGlashan (hamstring) and Ashley Vincent although Craig Braham-Barrett was now fully ready for action should he be called upon from the bench.
York came into this gave full of confidence following their 4-1 home drubbing of Scunthorpe United in midweek but Cheltenham weren't in bad form either and were looking to make it three games unbeaten here today. The performance last week away at Northampton deserved a win but Mark Yates was keen to highlight the need to be ruthless ahead of this game today. From the kick off you could sense that Nigel Worthington's Minstermen were a confident bunch and defender Luke O'Neill had an early attempt on goal after 3 minutes only to see it roll harmlessly wide. It didn't take long for Cheltenham to get into their stride though with numerous commanding tackles from the midfield giving York something to think about. The possession that Cheltenham were winning in midfielder started to pay off on 10 minutes with corners being won and won of those was almost steered in my the head of Keith Lowe although it dropped just wide. It was another corner however that handed the Robins the lead on 12 minutes and it fell to Byron Harrison, his 8th of the season. Richards' corner was whipped in and was met by the head of Troy Brown but a defender's leg blocked the chance before Byron Harrison bundled the ball in from a yard out. Unmissable but a perfect start for Cheltenham.
A good start for Mark Yates' side but you'd be forgiven for biting your tongue until the Robins had taken a more comfortable lead with their recent history of shooting themselves in the foot. Those fans would have been right to have been cautious because York were back level within ten minutes. A corner was floated in by the Minstermen and Ryan Bowman rose highest at the backpost to nod it beyond Brown despite the best efforts of Sido Jombati on the line. It was all too familiar for the home fans but at least Cheltenham attempted to strike back straight away but Byron Harrison's effort inside the area was clipped just over the bar by an outstretched York boot. They had another chance to retake the lead on 24 minutes with Deering's quick cross across the face of goal but Cureton's header was collected easily by the gloves of Ingham. A snapshot from Josh Carson from the right wing offered little threat to the gloves of Scott Brown but the midfielder's freekick ten minutes from the break was a much more threatening prospect in the swirling wind but Brown stood strong to deny.
Cheltenham could have and perhaps should have had a penalty in the 38th minute after a crossed ball appeared to strike the hand of a York defender but the referee waved away protests before showing Sam Deering a yellow card for simulation when he went down in the area under the challenge of Parslow. Hard to tell from the angle of the press box as to whether either decision was correct but the build-up was certainly more positive from the Robins. Elliott Whitehouse was shown York's first yellow card of the afternoon for a late challenge on Russ Penn during what was a good spell of passing football from the home side. That good spell of football led to a goal right before half time and it was probably what the Robins deserved. A freekick was given following Whitehouse's foul on Jason Taylor 30 yards from goal. Matt Richards stepped up to take the set piece with it being hung straight into the box with Troy Brown awaiting but the effort flew straight over the defender's head and into the back of the net - not too dissimilar from his goal versus Morecambe. There was however a slight twist though with the linesman flagging for offside before the referee decided to overrule his colleague much to the appreciation of the home support. Cheltenham were leading 2-1 right before the break and they were back in control.
Half Time: Cheltenham Town 2-1 York City FC
The second half kicked in and you couldn't have felt more sorry for the fans who withstood the heavy wind and rain cheering on their team. The Robins had started well and Cureton showed good pace to speed past Ben Davies and deliver a superb cross but neither Harrison nor Taylor could capitalise. That came back to haunt Cheltenham when a York cross was thumped into the area and Sido Jombati kicked an easy catch out of the hands of Scott Brown and into the path of Bowman who made no mistake in hitting the target from close range. A poor mistake from the Portuguese right back and another set back for a frustrated Cheltenham Town.
A long range freekick from Luke O'Neill threatened little as York looked for an unlikely lead but Cheltenham almost dragged themselves back into the lead when Jombati surged down the wing before knocking the ball back into the path of Deering who saw his effort tipped over by Ingham in the York goal. York made their first change of the afternoon with Sander Puri replacing Middlesbrough loanee Ryan Brobbel on 65 minutes and the midfielder joined at a time when a succession of corners threatened to snatch a lead for the visitors with the wind causing plenty of problems. Cheltenham made their first change on 70 minutes with Jamie Cureton being replaced by a fresh Terry Gornell but York were also quick to make a change with top scorer Ryan Jarvis coming off the bench at the expense of an otherwise unnoticeable Wes Fletcher.
Cheltenham kept pushing and asking questions of York and Byron Harrison was unfortunate not to see his angled effort drift inside the far post but Cheltenham were perhaps starting to think that this wouldn't be their day. A foul on Sam Deering 25 yards from goal gave Matt Richards the opportunity to grab a second but his thumping effort was well saved by Michael Ingham. Young winger Zack Kotwica replaced skipper Russ Penn on 82 minutes in an attempt to create some kind of opening in the York defence.
Cheltenham should have been winning this game and it was growing incresingly apparent that another frustrated afternoon at the office was on the cards. Josh Carson's freekick on 90 minutes threatened to steal a win but Brown managed to claw it away from the top corner before the rebound was thumped back in only to be well blocked by Troy Brown. Cheltenham couldn't make anything happen in the dying embers of the game and the whistle was blown to finish a 90 minutes which the Robins let slip away. This really should have been a win for the Robins.
Full Time: Cheltenham Town 2-2 York City FC
Cheltenham Town FC (4-4-2 Diamond): S. Brown (GK); Jombati, Lowe, T. Brown, Richards; Noble, Penn (C) (Kotwica 82), Taylor, Deering; Harrison, Cureton (Gornell 70)
Subs not used: Roberts (GK), Braham-Barrett, Hanks, H. Williams
York City FC (4-4-2): Ingham (GK); Davies, Smith, Parslow (C), O'Neill; Brobbell (Puri 65), Platt, Whitehouse, Carson; Fletcher (Jarvis 70), Bowman (Cresswell 88)
Subs not used: Kettings (GK), Allan, Clay, Fyfield
Referee: Mr. James Linington
Attendance: 2,706 (239 from York)
Star Man: David Noble