Full Time: Bury 0, Robins 1Cheltenham Town secured all three points with a hard fought 1-0 victory over promotion favourites Bury.
A first half strike from Joe Hanks handed the youngster a first professional goal and his side the winner they needed to stun the JD Stadium crowd but in truth Cheltenham deserved their reward with a performance to be proud of.
Bury had their moments but rarely were the Cheltenham defence outdone by the Shakers on what was a perfect start to the new season.
A 5-3-2 formation was deployed ahead of the game with both Vaughan and Braham-Barrett providing the width in what was a new and relatively untested formation.
The sun shone upon the JD Stadium as the 2014-15 season kicked off this afternoon and it was perhaps Brighton who were the brightest in the opening stages of the game although Jason Taylor was certainly providing Cheltenham's energy in the middle of the park. The Robins however suffered a setback early on with Asa Hall being withdrawn through injury and young Joe Hanks replacing him after just six minutes.
Bury's attack was fluid and Chris Hussey certainly tested Lee Vaughan early on as he marauded down the left wing but the first effort on goal, courtesy of Nicky Adams, was far wide of it's target. Cheltenham's first strike of the game on the other hand had to be forced wide by Jalal as Jason Taylor streamed into the box before seeing his far post shot denied.
Both teams were hard to seperate within the first 20 minutes of the game but the head of Steve Elliott did have to come to his team's rescue on 25 minutes after Danny Mayor slid into the area past Vaughan and thumped a shot at goal only to be denied by the veteran defender's face.
Substitute Joe Hanks had impressed since coming on and the Churchdown-based midfielder had almost registered himself with a first professional goal on 27 minutes. Jason Taylor's interception was followed by a pass out wide to Vaughan who curled in a back post header for Harrison to nod down into the path of Hanks but his shot was well held by Jalal.
Bury weren't without their opportunities however and they came incredibly close to taking the lead ten minutes from time when Hussey's drive in the area took a wicked deflction off Soares only to loop just wide of Carson's post much to the relief of the Sky Blue clad Robins.
Cheltenham did have the ball in the back of the net after 38 minutes only for it to ruled out for offside. A long looping cross to the back post was headed in by Matt Taylor but the referee ruled it out for a foul despite the celebrations in the away end.
That disappointment was soon replaced by joy with Cheltenham grabbing the lead in tremendous fashion on 42 minutes. A looping ball into the box from Jason Taylor was brought down well by Gornell into the path of Harrison who, in turn, found Joe Hanks and the young midfielder smashed the ball past Jalal from 20 yards to make it 1-0 and record his first goal in professional football in style.
Having taken a deserved lead into half-time the Robins returned with the same energy that had been on show in the first period but Bury were the first to register an effort on goal although Andrew Tutte's long range drive was comfortably wide of the Cheltenham goal.
The midfielder was at it again soon after although he managed to hit the target on 52 minutes only to be denied by Carson who comfortable caught the ball without pressure. Bury did look as though they had been on the receiving end of a stern half-time team talk though and they almost grabbed an equaliser ten minutes into the half but Matt Richards produced a goal line clearance to deny an almost certain headed goal from Pablo Mills from a Bury corner.
Bury had to clear their own lines shortly after a short corner had found caused confusion between Jalal and his defender with ball looping over both and towards goal only for Tom Soares to show great awareness and clear their lines.
It was an end-to-end game and difficult to take your eyes off but Trevor Carson pulled off a smart save 67 minutes into the match with Bury's cross seemingly being towards goal by a Robins defender but the former Bury shot stopper produced a fine one-handed save to deny an equaliser before Danny Mayor came close soon after with a fizzing strike.
That close shave served as a warning to the Robins but Bury's tails were up and the hosts were gradually gathering momentum. A series of crosses bombarded the Cheltenham area with the three central defenders doing their best to repel but it was further up the pitch where Mark Yates made his first substitution of the game with Birmingham loanee Koby Arthur replacing Byron Harrison and David Flitcroft responded by withdrawing former Rotherham forward Daniel Nardiello and replaced him with James Poole.
Searching balls from Bury were putting pressure on the Robins defence with every deflected touch inside the box forcing the travelling fans to nibble away at their nails as the clock ticked down. In truth though Cheltenham's shape was strong and they were proving more than a match for Bury's energetic attack. That attack grew ever stronger with the introduction of Nathan Cameron from the bench but still the Robins stood strong and it was a member of the defence that picked up the first booking of the game with Matt Taylor shown yellow for a late challenge.
A long range effort from Pablo Mills did little to improve the home fans' mood as they watched it sail high over the bar from distance and the fourth official's signal for four minutes added time only heightened the atmosphere.
Despite the pressure Cheltenham held on but they did need the fingertips of Trevor Carson in the dying embers of the game to deny a stunning shot from James Poole to confirm victory.
The Robins had gone into this game as underdogs and emerged as deserving winners to kick their 2014-15 season off with an impressive three points.
BURY FC (4-4-2): Jalal (GK); Jones, Mills, McNulty (c), Hussey; Mayor, Tutte, Soares, Adams (Cameron 82); Nardiello (Poole 75), Lowe
SUBS NOT USED: Segwick (GK), Thompson, O'Brien, Widdowson, Lainton
CHELTENHAM TOWN (5-3-2): Carson (GK); Vaughan, Brown, M Taylor (c), Elliott, Braham-Barrett; J Taylor, Richards, Hall (Hanks 6); Gornell, Harrison (Arthur 75)
SUBS NOT USED: Reynolds (GK), Deaman, Black, Haworth, Sterling-James
REFEREE: Eddie Ilderton
ATTENDANCE: 3,376 (166 from Cheltenham)