A sloppy start to proceedings from the Robins invited Exeter to pressurise the back four and they had their rewards after just 12 minutes with Jordan Moore-Taylor grabbing an opener from Woodman's cross. Cheltenham barely threatened to get themselves back into the match but a driven run by McGlashan and a pass found Harrison's outstretched boot and the moment gave the Robins a leveller.
Exeter had much of the pressure in the second half with half chances from Cureton and Noble but it was at the death in which the Robins could have stolen all three points but Sam Deering's tame effort one on one with the goalkeeper had wasted a chance where he really should have scored.
It was another point for Cheltenham but once again a story of 'what if' as they left St. James' Park frustrated.
Cheltenham Town's record over Exeter City is an impressive one with nine wins from nine attempts but Mark Yates and his Robins were wary of this one today with the Grecians still mathematically not assured and keen on all three points. Mark Yates opted to stick with the diamond ahead of kick off but brought Craig Braham-Barrett, Steve Elliott and Jamie Cureton back into the starting XI and there was also a full debut for 18 year-old and Cheltenham born Harry Williams who took his place on the point of the diamond midfield. Paul Tisdale set the Grecians up in a 4-5-1 formation and would almost certainly look to neutralise the threat of former employees David Noble and Jamie Cureton.
A one minute silence preceded the 3.07pm kick off today in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster and it was impeccably witnessed by the St. James' Crowd.
A positive start would have been craved by the Robins with their two previous victories over the Grecians won within the first 15 minutes and Harry Williams was certainly moving well on the point of the diamond in the opening minutes. It was Exeter however that had the first effort on goal from a corner but right back Danny Butterfield's 30 yard volley following the clearance was just wide of the goal. It wasn't long before the Grecians were threatening again with Eliot Richards finding space inside the area and slipping past Jombati with ease but Troy Brown was on hand to make a superb challenge just in time. The home side continued to press and were threatening to open the scoring but an effort was safely blocked by Elliott and diverted past the near post. It was promising for the Grecians though and it wasn't long before they had taken the lead because a deep cross from Woodman provided Moore-Taylor with a golden opportunity and he to bundled it into the roof of the net to punish what had been very poor defending from Cheltenham.
That was a blow for the Robins but in truth Exeter looked as though they wanted it more early on in this match and Cheltenham were struggling to create anything of note to test Exeter's 18 year-old goalkeeper Christy Pym. On 26 minutes however the Robins did somehow pull something out of the bag and it was a driven run at the backline by McGlashan that forced an opening. His pass through to Harrison took a slight deflection off the defender's leg but Harrison was able to stretch a boot and connect to see the ball roll past Pym into the back of the net for the equaliser. Deserved? Probably not but the travelling Robins behind the goal cared not.
The game had lost it's tempo past the half hour mark but a Mark Grimes shot briefly had the Exeter fans on their feet before it dropped wide of goal and Cheltenham continued to probe enthused by their goal from nowhere. Exeter were putting good balls into the box time after time but the Robins backline continued to hold firm under he guidance of Troy Brown. Tom Nichols did come close to pinching something for the Grecians however with a pinpoint finding him amongst a hot of bodies but his looping header was wide of Brown's goal. A flick header from Cureton from a good Jombati cross failed to threaten Pym in the Exeter goal as the game approached half time and little else happened to force a change in the scoreline.
Half Time: Exeter City FC 1-1 Cheltenham Town FC
A tight scoreline and a half that would be tough to predict but the Robins started well and a corner headed at goal by Steve Elliott was flicked into the gloves of Pym by the head of Byron Harrison to record the first effort of the second period. Exeter's Matt Oakley forced Scott Brown into a comfortable save ten minutes into the half with a low effort. It was a cause for concern the Exeter seemed to have so much space on the ball when looking to attack the Robins but on 57 minutes Cheltenham Town should have had a penalty when Jermaine McGlashan got on the wrong side of Woodman before being clipped and going down in the box. The winger was clearly tripped but the referee was not interested and waved any appeals away. Exeter immediately went on the counter attack but Bennett's effort was wasted and wide of goal.
A Tom Nichols shot stung the gloves of Scott Brown just past the hour mark and Exeter thought they may have been in with a chance of re-taking the lead with Scot Bennett popping up and avoiding the offside flag but enough pressure was applied by Scott Brown to force his effort wide of goal and Cheltenham survived. Mark Yates withdrew Harry Williams and replaced him with Sam Deering on 63 minutes in an effort to change the flow of the game. The Robins did carve out an opportunity with Elliiott's long ball dropping over the backline into the path of Jamie Cureton but the former Grecian, back at his old stomping ground, put an effort over the bar when really he should have hit the target. A wild effort from Noble minutes later had the same result as Cheltenham continued to test Exeter's backline.
Eliot Richards came close to scoring but pulled a good effort wide of the goal on 70 minutes and they came close again minutes later with Wheeler through on goal but a superb sliding challenge by Braham-Barrett rescued the Robins and cleared the danger. Paul Tisdale's Grecians were pushing but Steve Elliott was proving to be a rock in the heart of defence with several key headers denying the hosts although Jordan Moore-Taylor was unlucky not to have hit the target with a strong header from a left wing cross. Cheltenham were finding it tough and that was symbolised by Jombati being shown a yellow card for a blatant pull on the shirt of the Exeter winger. The next change by the Robins was Cureton off for Zack Kotwica and the young winger almost made an instant impact with a shot across the face of goal but Pym was able to make the save and push it wide to deny the youngster.
You would have been forgiven for chewing your nails off as a travelling Robins with ten minutes to go because the Grecians were certainly testing the resolve of the Cheltenham defence. Scott Brown was forced into making a save from the driven shot of Sercombe before Elliott hooked the ball from danger. A Sam Deering strike down the throat of the goalkeeper was as close as the Robins came to stealing a lead minutes before the 90 and that was swiftly followed up by a Richards yellow card with the midfielder kicking the ball away.
Three additional minutes were added onto this fixture and with the scores level at 1-1 there was still time for the story to be changed and Sam Deering had the perfect chance only to waste it. Exeter lost possession sloppily and Byron Harrison found Deering in a central position with only the goalkeeper to beat but the midfielder's effort was poor and tame with Pym grateful to clutch onto his effort which had been struck right at him. That was the moment for Cheltenham Town and it had been wasted.
Full Time: Exeter City FC 1-1 Cheltenham Town FC
Exeter City FC (4-5-1): Pym (GK); Butterfield, Baldwin, Moore-Taylor, Woodman; Sercombe, Grimes, Oakley, Bennett, Richards; Nichols (Wheeler 62).
Subs not used: Krysiak (GK), Davies, O’Flynn, Keohane, Parkin Gill.
Cheltenham Town FC (4-4-2 Diamond): S Brown (GK); Jombati, T Brown, Elliott (C), Braham-Barrett; Noble, McGlashan, Richards, Williams (Deering 63); Harrison, Cureton (Kotwica 76)
Subs not used: Roberts (GK), Brundle, Ihiekwe, Gornell
Referee: Mr. Lee Collins
Attendance: 3,353 (206 from Cheltenham)