Full Time: Mansfield 0, Robins 2
Cheltenham Town put in a fantastic shift to disarm a Mansfield side and take home all three points to guarantee Football League safety.
A stale half of football was slightly edged by the visiting Robins but it wasn't until the second half that Jamie Cureton grabbed his 10th goal of the season courtesy of some superb football from Byron Harrison and the veteran striker proved he was still in the mood for goal with a wonderful effort following a Martin Riley mistake to win the game and take all three points.
Finally the fans had something to cheer about after a tough few weeks but the Robins in truth were deserving of the win with Mansfield offering very little in front of their fans.
It's been 8 years since Cheltenham Town were last at Mansfield Town's Field Mill stadium and a repeat of that result would have gone a long way to confirm safety from the drop with the season drawing closer to it's conclusion. It would take a big swing of results for the Robins to be dragged down into the bottom two but nothing was for certain in this league of surprises and shocks. For the Robins just one change with Harry Williams being withdrawn and replaced by Sam Deering on the right of the diamond and McGlashan on the point. Mark Yates warned of a real battle going into this game at Mansfield and Cheltenham certainly needed to show spirit in this one today having previously been bullied by the Stags at Whaddon Road back in December.
From the kick off Cheltenham knew they would be in a fight and an early Mansfield set piece had to be claimed quickly by Scott Brown after bouncing loosely between players just yards from goal. Cheltenham would have been looking for an early advantage in this game and they did have the ball int the back of the net after just four minutes although Harrison's strong header from a Richards cross was ruled out for offside by the linesman. Despite that it had been a good start to the game for the Robins and Mark Yates would have been pleased with his team's endeavour going forward in the opening minutes. A looping header from Matt Rhead threatened little as Mansfield's first effort on goal but the game soon settled back into a contested midfield battle between the teams.
The Stags were buoyed by a good level of noise behind the goal as they looked to take control of proceedings but Cheltenham were the next to register an effort at goal although the wall of yellow defenders was enough to make the block and a later attempt by David Noble did little to threaten Price in the Mansfield goal as Cheltenham looked to shoot from range. Mansfield are a big team and there are none bigger than the man mountain Tafazoli in the back three of the hosts' defence. The big defender had been largely untroubled by Jermaine McGlashan but it was down the other end where he almost made an impact with a thunderous header from the corner but it was safely over the bar. Tame efforts on goal did little to get the supporters out their seats at Field Mill as the game approached the half hour mark although Harrison and Cureton linked up well to offer some hope of goalmouth action on 30 minutes only for Tafazoli to make an important challenge to deny Harrison a route through on goal. The Robins continued to push fater that point and a low cross across the face of goal from McGlashan was met by the boot of Richards but Lewis Price was on hand to make the save.
That spell of pressure was continued with half chances with the Robins with Anthony Howell stealing the ball seconds before Cureton was eyeing up a headed effort at goal and the veteran striker had a wild shot soon after although it was at a heavy angle to offer any real hope of striking the target. Mansfield's first chance of goal for a good 20 minutes came courtesy of Braham-Barrett's slip and Darryl Westlake should really have hit the target only to see his effort high and wide. That was followed up by another wasteful shot from James Jennings but Mansfield's pressure was certainly welcomed by the noisy home crowd and they were much happier come the half time whistle.
Half Time: Mansfield Town 0-0 Cheltenham Town
One change at the break saw Mansfield replace Darryl Westlake with Lindon Meikle for the second half and the Stags were soon on the attack with Anthony Howell charging into the box from the left wing but his knock back into the area was met with just ruby and white shirts. The substitute Meikle had a poor shot at goal ahead of the 50th minute of play to introduce himself into the action as Mansfield started the half well. Cheltenham's midfield had done a good job in the first period but at times during the opening stages of the second half Mansfield were able to sail through the middle of the pitch under little pressure although manager Paul Cox would not have been with happy with the way his team were finishing their opportunities.
Like a shocked boxer Cheltenham were facing a flurry of punches which had them pinned to the ropes and they needed something special to apply pressure themselves. That special something came courtesy of Byron Harrison as he picked up on a loose ball before striding through the heart of defence before slipping a neat pass onto the boots of Cureton and the veteran striker made no mistake with a fine effort into the top corner. 1-0 to the Robins and a blow for the hosts with their initial pressure failing to capitalise.
Cureton's tenth goal of the season certainly gave Cheltenham the shot in the arm they needed but the boisterous display of Mansfield continued and they were certainly not out of this one with Cheltenham's track record in maintaining leads. Still Cheltenham gave their fans every chance to maintain belief with several good waves of pressure and Byron Harrison was unlucky to head wide from a lofted ball into the box although the referee was keen to give a foul for not much at all. Mark Yates' Robins were playing well and Byron Harrison was enjoying himself as he continued to harass the Mansfield defence and it was evident they were growing frustrated. A poor challenge by Martin Riley on Jamie Cureton drew the first yellow card of the game from the referee and deservedly so. The former Robins defender was having a poor game and it got worse for him with 10 minutes to go with a poor pass back to his goalkeeper being stolen by Jamie Cureton and the striker produced a fine chipped effort from an angle to make it 2-0.
The home supporters were growing frustrated and angry with their team's performance as the Robins continued to control the game but it was no more than Mark Yates' side deserved as they seeked a full three points to guarantee safety. Mansfield weren't without their threats in the latter stages of this game and a Speight effort at least offered a shot on goal for the hosts although it ended up in the stand with the supporters. Mark Yates opted to take Jamie Cureton off after 82 minutes having done his job for the day with the travelling Robins applauded noisily and on came Terry Gornell. The striker's first involvement was a high foot into the head of Tafazoli but he escaped a booking although a yellow card was soon out of his pocket and show to Adam Murray fora late challenge on Jermaine McGlashan.
As the game neared it's end McGlashan was withdrawn for Ashley Vincent with Cheltenham cruising to all three points. Mansfield were lacking any of the strength they were showing at the start of the second half and the full time whistle was blown on what was a solid away performance from Cheltenham Town - a win that guaranteed they would not be dragged into relegation peril.
Full Time: Mansfield Town 0-2 Cheltenham Town
Mansfield Town FC (3-5-2): Price (GK), Sutton, Riley, Rhead, Clucas, Tafazolli, Howell (Palmer 60), Jennings (Speight 77), Murray (C), McGuire, Westlake (Meikle 46).
Subs not used: Dempster, Briscoe, Stevenson, Speight, Daniel.
Subs not used: Dempster, Briscoe, Stevenson, Speight, Daniel.
Cheltenham Town FC (4-4-2 Diamond): Brown (GK); Jombati, T Brown, Elliott (C), Braham-Barrett; Noble, McGlashan (Vincent 90), Richards, Deering; Harrison, Cureton (Gornell 87)
Subs not used: Roberts (GK), Ihiekwe, Taylor, Kotwica, Williams
Referee: Mr. Andy Woolmer
Attendance: 3,586 (TBC from Cheltenham)