Full Time: Stanley 2, Robins 2Cheltenham had to settle for a point this afternoon against an Accrington side battling for survival but the draw was a fair result.
Two goals each for James Beattie and Marlon Pack provided the goalmouth action but it was another frustrating point for Cheltenham after taking the lead against the run of play. Fleetwood await Tuesday in the race for promotion.
Accrington had good chances to take the lead in the first half but it was Cheltenham that went a goal up first when Taylor was fouled in the area and Pack calmly slotted in the spot kick. That lead was short lived however when James Beattie's header from the corner crept into the bottom corner for 1-1. Stanley took the lead through a stunning James Beattie strike but what the former international could do, Marlon Pack could do too and his header equalised for the Robins.
The game ended all square as Accrington grabbed a vital point in their relegation battle and Cheltenham were left frustrated by another draw.
An afternoon at the Crown Ground pitted two clubs with two very different targets but both in need of a three points which could prove massive over the next few months. Mark Yates brought Kaid Mohamed into the starting eleven at the expense of Russ Penn while Steve Elliott (dead leg) was passed fit and started alongside Hector in defence. The Robins were up against a side looking for their first home win since New Year's Day and their first victory in six games. Amongst Stanley was a former England international with former Everton and Southampton striker James Beattie sitting behind James Gray in attack.
It was thermal weather for supporters with a light dusting of snow falling upon the Crown Ground and once again Cheltenham had a band of hardy supporters providing good noise and backing for the players. Despite the cold Cheltenham did start well but their first effort on goal, from Marlon Pack, was high over the bar and never in danger of worrying the goalkeeper. Accrington did have one dangerous attack early on when James Gray's effort could only be pushed away by Brown and Beattie's follow up effort was blocked well by Jombati. Stanley were having a decent spell and another effort from Gray had to be pounded away by Brown before any damage was done to the scoreline. An ambitious effort from Marlon Pack after 14 minutes almost caught out Rachubka in goal when he struck from 45 yards with the goalkeeper off his line but it dropped just wide of the post.
Accrington had begun to settle into their game and Brown really should have been tested when James Beattie's cross found the head of Gray but the striker's effort was put over the bar when he really should have done better. Stanley were wasting their chances and Peter Murphy had the best of the lot. A driven cross from Wilson found the midfielder at the near post but his clipped effort sailed wide of goal before he took his frustration out on the perimeter board. The next effort for Accrington was from the right boot of Beattie but the former Everton striker's shot was wide of goal. The number of chances in front of goal for the home side will have been a worry for Mark Yates on the touchline but those fears were sidelined when Jason Taylor was felled in the area by the loose foot of Mark Hughes. Mr. Andy D'Urso immediately pointed to the spot and handed Marlon Pack the opportunity to take the lead for the Robins. Pack stepped up and slotted a neat penalty past Rachubka to put Cheltenham one goal up much to the frustration of the home support.
The goal was against the run of play but it did give Cheltenham the shot of confidence they needed and Harrison could have added another had his shot been a few inches to the left from Scott Brown's goal kick on 39 minutes. Accrington had reacted well however and they were still pushing forward. A corner was handed to Stanley following a blocl from Michael Hector and the set piece was a perfect delivery to the head of James Beattie and that stooping header beat Brown to make it 1-1. A gutting blow for Cheltenham but it could have been worse had Brown not been quick to react to Boco's 25 yard drive pushing it round the post.
Half Time: Accrington Stanley 1-1 Cheltenham Town
Stanley had their tails up in this second half with a vital victory within their reach and Lawrence Wilson's left wing run and driven cross had to be quickly cleared to deny a further effort on goal. A Jermaine McGlashan effort offered little but a shot stat before Michael Hector was yellow carded for dragging James Gray down 25 yards from goal. The striker was proving a real menace and he would have had another sot on goal had Steve Elliott not made an excellent block on the edge of his own area. Cheltenham needed a response and Mark Yates introduced Sam Deering and Darren Carter in place of Jermaine McGlashan and Kaid Mohamed respectively on 59 minutes. Darren Carter almost made the perfect impact after his volley was deflected wide for a corner seconds after coming on but the set piece was wasted. Accrington's fans soon had something to cheer about when a goal line clearance fell straight to the boot of Beattie and the striker's effort thundered in off the underside of the crossbar for 2-1. It was an unstoppable strike from the former Premiership striker but a bitterly disappointing one for Cheltenham.
Cheltenham had the ball in the back of the net five minutes later when Benson slipped the ball past Rachubka but the offside flag had been held high for offside and the Robins remained behind. A spark was needed and it was provided when Sam Deering was fouled and given a freekick on the right wing. Carter's set piece found the head of Benson who directed the ball to the near post and Marlon Pack was on hand to climb over his marker and head home for his second of the day and an equaliser.
It was a goal Cheltenham desperately needed and Accrington reacted by introducing debutant Amine Linganzi in place of their goalscorer James Beattie. It was an entertaining game and Lawrence Wilson could have scored the fifth goal of the game after picking up Boco's cross field pass and directing his effort across the face of goal. Byron Harrison was shown a yellow card in the dying embers of this game for a heavy and clumsy challenge on Rachubka. A correct decision by the referee despite the petty calls of home support for a red. He was soon replaced by Shaun Harrad with Mark Yates eager for his side to keep pushing on. There was a delay in play when Carter had to be treated for a heavy knock on his foot and Sido Jombati was booked minutes later for a pull on his marker.
A strong save from Scott Brown from Lawrence Wilson's freekick provided Cheltenham with a foundation they needed to build upon in this game but they were struggling to find anything to really test Rachubka. Shaun Harrad's long range strike trickled wide on 89 minutes and Luke Joyce's strike was inches wide as a fast paced game neared it's conclusion but the final whistle finally came and called time upon an entertaining 90 minutes. A point apiece in a hard fought match.
Full Time: Accrington Stanley 2-2 Cheltenham Town
Accrington Stanley FC (4-2-3-1): Rachubka (GK); Hunt, Winnard, Hughes, Liddle; Murphy, Joyce (C); Bovo, Beattie (Linganzi 74), Wilson; Gray (Amond 88)
Subs not used: Dawber (GK), Molyneux, Aldred, Miller, Hatfield.
Cheltenham Town FC (4-4-2): Brown (GK); Lowe, Hector, Elliott, Jombati; McGlashan (Deering 59), Pack, Taylor, Mohamed (Carter 59); Benson, Harrison (Harrad 82).
Subs not used: Roberts (GK), Jones, Penn, Duffy
Referee: Mr. Andy D'Urso
Attendance: 1,216 (141 from Cheltenham)
Robins Star Man: Sido Jombati - He made several excellent interceptions throughout the game and defended well.