Full-time: Robins 2, Stanley 1Cheltenham Town scored back-to-back wins in the opening two contests of the season for the first time since the 2006-07 season with victory over Accrington Stanley this afternoon.
Koby Arthur’s first professional goal six minutes from time handed Mark Yates’s side a deserved win in their first home match of the campaign.
The Lancashire side have proven to be a bit of a bogey team at Whaddon Road down the years, winning three and drawing one in five visits since 2010, and they squandered a great chance to stretch that record here today.
Things were going to plan when Byron Harrison notched his first goal of the season, scoring from close-range before coming off through injury.
But despite Cheltenham’s dominance, Stanley snatched a barely deserved equaliser 13 minutes from time through Kal Naismith.
The Robins showed plenty of character to respond well to the setback, and they regained their lead through Arthur only seven minutes later.
And there was drama deep into injury time when Piero Mingoia went down under a challenge by Lee Vaughan to earn his side a late penalty, but Naismith lifted it over the bar.
But an equaliser would have been so harsh on Cheltenham, who produced a display full of attacking intent and created all the chances on the day.
The manager restored skipper Matt Taylor to his defence at the expense of Jack Deaman following his impressive senior debut at Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday in the Capital One Cup first round defeat.
Accrington boss James Beattie made one change of his own after his side’s midweek cup exit at Leeds United, replacing Mingoia with Rob Atkinson in the centre of his three-man defence.
Cheltenham made a promising start to the home campaign, causing the Stanley defence plenty of problems in the opening 45 minutes and thoroughly deserved their lead at the interval.
They had created a handful of half-chances by the time Joe Hanks had seen his 20-yard free-kick sail past the left upright.
Gornell’s deflected shot dropped wide five minutes, leading to another positive passage of play on the visitors’ goal from the resulting corner.
The Robins were playing with real confidence by the 20-minute mark, passing and moving it well and Gornell was presented with another chance after a neat build-up although his shot was pushed away for a corner.
Accrington posed little threat going forward but began to find their range around the half-hour mark, first through Kal Naismith’s volley and then with two long rangers by James Alabi.
Cheltenham made their pressure tell 11 minutes before the break when another good move, this time down the left, saw Lee Vaughan drawing a sharp save by Luke Simpson from 18 yards.
Matt Richards swung in the resulting corner, Troy Brown flicked it on and Harrison bundled home the loose ball from a yard.
Last season’s top goalscorer was promptly withdrawn through injury after picking up an injury 10 or so minutes beforehand and was replaced by Arthur up front.
Accrington briefly rallied, and Josh Windass brought about a diving stop from Trevor Carson with a 25 yarder but Yates’ side had successfully restricted Stanley to long range efforts at the break.
Cheltenham needed a second goal to convert their dominance in the contest into a stronger position and they created all the chances after the restart to stretch their lead.
Jason Taylor went close on the hour, looping over an effort from the left channel with the first real chance of the second half.
Then Arthur produced a wonderful strike only two minutes later to call Simpson into a sharp save from the edge of the box.
Next Brown met Hanks’ free-kick from the left touchline with a stooping header, but Simpson was alive to the danger at the far post.
Then Matt Taylor headed against the bar.
But it was Accrington who registered the goal, against the run of play, to square the contest with 13 minutes remaining.
They broke down the left through substitute George Bowerman, a former trialist, who cut one inside to find James Gray 18 yards from goal.
The midfielder slid one into the path of Naismith, coming in from the right right, and the Bury target cooly beat Carson at his near post.
It could have been worse moments later when Bowerman’s strike whistled past the angle of the goal.
However the Robins struck back seven minutes after the goal to restore their lead through Arthur, taking a direct route to goal thanks to some quick thinking by Carson.
The Northern Irish goalkeeper sent a long ball forward to find the forward, who skipped away from his marker and lifted the ball over Simpson.
That was that, or so everyone thought but Lee Vaughan was harshly adjudged to have fouled Mingoia deep into injury time to hand the visitors an unlikely chance to level the contest.
But Naismith elected to place his penalty kick, and lifted it well over the bar to waste a great chance to steal a point his side had never really looked likely to take back to Lancashire.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): Carson; Brown, M Taylor (c), Elliott; Vaughan, Hanks, J Taylor, Richards, Braham-Barrett; Gornell, Harrison (Arthur (35). Subs not used: Haworth, Deaman, Black, Sterling-James, Dale, Reynolds (Gk).
ACCRINGTON STANLEY (3-5-2): Simpson; Winnard, Atkinson, Aldred; Buxton (Mingoia 74), Hunt (c), Naismith, Windass, Mustoe; Gray, Alabi (Bowerman 74). Subs not used: McCartan, Hatfield, Carver, Lynch (Gk), Goulding.
REFEREE: K Johnson
ATTENDANCE: 2,340 (56 from Accrington)