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Match Reports

Tranmere v. Cheltenham, 23.8.14

23 August 2014

Full Time: Tranmere 2, Robins 3

A rampant second half performance handed Cheltenham Town a 3-2 win away at Tranmere's Prenton Park this afternoon.
Three goals in the second half from Richards, Arthur and debutant Wynter ruled out their opponent's 2-0 first half lead but it was perhaps the introduction of Omari Sterling-James at half-time that turned the tide in this one.
A lack of clinical finishing in the first half was very much the problem for Mark Yates' side in the first 45 but there was no sign of hesitancy after the break and a passionate display sliced Tranmere wide open to secure all three points.
Just the one change was made ahead of kick-off with Mark Yates opting to replace Joe Hanks in midfield with new loan signing Jordan Wynters who joined the club on Friday with an initial month's loan. The young Bristol City midfielder was the only change for a side that went into this game unbeaten in the league after a solid start to the 2014-15 campaign.
Tranmere were buoyed from their first win of the season over Wycombe in midweek and their team was unchanged but included familiar face Michael Ihiekwe and Kayode Odejayi with the latter starting from the substitutes bench.
This match was the first game between the two sides in this division but Tranmere were looking like a side from a league above with excellent ball retention in the first half. Despite this it was Cheltenham who claimed the first chance of the game when Vaughan's cross picked out Terry Gornell at the back post but his header was well saved by Fon Williams.
Cheltenham hadn't started the game badly but Tranmere were soon in front from out of nowhere and in truth it was totally avoidable. Eliot Richards pick up the ball from Max Power and directly ran into the Robins area with barely a challenge to stop him and the attacking midfielder put his side 1-0 up with a shot well placed into the bottom corner beyond the reach of Carson.
Mark Yates' side struggled to settle against the tidy passing Tranmere and an Elliott shot in the 22nd minute did little to offer hope when attacking Tranmere's goal.
Tranmere had another opportunity to score when Stockton peeled away from Matt Taylor before firing into the side netting and it was looking increasingly like it was going to be the hosts' afternoon.
The Robins' performance did improve later on in the half with a number of attacks, mostly from Braham-Barrett's left wing, but chances were missed and clinical finishing seemed vacant from an otherwise decent display.
The increased tempo from his side will have pleased Mark Yates and they were doing everything but score as the first half approached it's end and then Tranmere did what their opponents could not - capitalise. Marc Laird's block on the edge of his own area set up a counter attack leaving both Elliott and Taylor exposed at the back and it was Laird himself who finished well past Carson a minute into injury time to make it 2-0 giving Cheltenham an uphill struggle to face in the second half.
A good start to the half was a necessity for the Robins and the early signs were positive. Omari Sterling-James was introduced at the break for Steve Elliott with a formation switch to 4-4-2 and the Football League debutant saw a shot blocked early on before Wynter stuck the scraps wide of goal. Sterling-James could have had a day to remember soon after when his diving header crashed against the inside of the post but the ball failed to breach the goal line and the chance was gone.
Trevor Carson was on hand to make a save from an Eliot Richards' deflected strike on 53 minutes to keep his side within reach of a result and the Robins were quickly back on the attach when Braham-Barrett beat Woodards for pace before delivering a cross to the feet of Gornell but the frustrated striker struck wide.
Again Cheltenham were threatening to get themselves back into the game and Koby Arthur's appearance off the bench certainly lifted his side because it wasn't long before they were back in the game.
An Omari Sterling-James shot was well blocked by the Tranmere defence but Matt Richards was on hand to pick up the rebound and his shot grabbed a goal back for the Robins albeit via a Tranmere defender's desperate attempts at a clearance.
Mark Yates' side had their tails up and the confidence was now plain to see because they soon had their second goal in as many minutes and it came through the ever-popular Koby Arthur. A neat ball was dropped over the Tranmere backline and the youngster smashed the ball in to secure an equaliser and his second for the club.
Tranmere looked shocked with the sudden turn of events and the neat passing football of the first half was gone and nowhere to be seen. It was only going to get worse for the hosts too because Cheltenham looked a team possessed.
Once again Cheltenham were causing problems via Braham-Barrett on the left wing but it was a cross from Matt Richards that set Jordan Wynter up with a debut to remember as the young Bristol City midfielder volleyed home at the backpost for 3-2.
Cheltenham's second half reaction was a joy to behold and the travelling fans were in full party mood as Tranmere opted to introduce former Cheltenham striker Kayode Odejayi much to the dumbstruck home fans' appreciation. They could have been celebrating even harder had Byron Harrison been awarded a penalty for being brought down inside the Tranmere area but the referee's decision was a freekick and a booking for simulation.
There was a swagger about Cheltenham's performance as the minutes ticked by and the backline were rarely threatened by a Tranmere side who looked a completely different animal than the one that had been so composed in the first half. A late change saw Joe Hanks replace the excellent Sterling-James and Koby Arthur saw a shot fly over the bar seconds before full time but it was all done and dusted soon after with the Robins recording an impressive victory courtesy of an outstanding comeback.

TRANMERE ROVERS (4-4-1-1): Fon Williams (GK); Woodards (Holmes 57), Ihiekwe, Holness (c), Hill; Power, Laird, Koumas, Kirby (Odejayi 79); Richards (Rowe 69); Stockton

SUBS NOT USED: Ramsbottom (GK), Gill, Donacien, Bruna

CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): Carson (GK): Brown, M Taylor (c), Elliott (Sterling-James 46 (Hanks 90)); Vaughan, J Taylor, Richards, Wynter, Braham-Barrett; Gornell (Arthur 63), Harrison

SUBS NOT USED: Reynolds (GK), Black, Deaman, Haworth

REFEREE: Nigel Miller

ATTENDANCE: 4,607 (151 from Cheltenham)

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