Full-time: Robins 0, Scunthorpe United 2
Cheltenham Town slipped to a disappointing defeat by high-flying Scunthorpe United at the Abbey Business Stadium tonight.
The Robins never really looked capable of upsetting the odds against League Two’s in-form team, leaking a goal either side of the interval.
The Lincolnshire side extended their unbeaten run to 23 games with this win to maintain their title push, notching a 125-year-old Football League record in the process.
Manager Russ Wilcox has overseen the sequence since arriving at Glanford Park and only needed to avoid defeat to go into the history books this evening.
Sam Winnall handed Scunthorpe a slender advantage in first-half injury time, and doubled his side’s advantage 13 minutes after the restart.
His 20th, and 21st strike of the season leaves him four clear at the top of the League Two scoring charts.
The Robins were handed a great chance to claw their way back into the game only one minute after the second goal, but Matt Richards saw his penalty saved on the hour.
That pretty much summed up their evening.
Cheltenham now face the long schlep north this weekend, to take on Hartlepool in need of a positive result after four days to forget.
Mark Yates made one change, replacing the unwell Michael Ihiekwe with loanee Mitch Brundle at right back.
The Robins were otherwise unchanged as they set about atoning for Saturday’s catastrophic collapse at Wimbledon at the weekend.
Scunthorpe on the other hand snatched a late win against Burton Albion four days ago, and were unchanged here.
It was a scrappy first half, low on entertainment with few chances to cheer but Cheltenham were disciplined against the division’s second-placed side and could count themselves unlucky to trail at the break.
Gary McSheffrey and Terry Hawkridge had tried their luck from distance in the opening ten minutes, without forcing Scott Brown into a save before Paddy Madden went closer, fizzing one inches wide from 20 yards.
Troy Brown headed Cheltenham’s first chance of the evening over the target after Sam Deering had been scythed down 20 yards from goal. David Noble swung it in, but the central defender headed over.
Five minutes later, Deering hit the top of the stand with an effort from the edge of the box.
Steve Elliott drew the first save of the match, albeit a simple one, when he met Matt Richards’ free-kick with the finest of headed touches.
And moments later headers by Richards, and then Brown forced Sam Slocombe into two more testing saves.
There was a moment of concern when David Mirfin went close to breaking the deadlock as half-time approached.
But Scunthorpe though took the lead in first-half injury time when Richards’ fouled Eddie Nolan 25 yards from goal, handing McShreffrey the opportunity to flight a delivery into the box.
Cheltenham failed to clear their lines and Winnall reacted quickest, meeting the loose ball with an acrobatic attempt to thump it home from 10 yards.
Things went from bad to worse 13 minutes into the second half when Winnall met another perfect free-kick by McSheffrey from the right with a firm header to give Brown no chance.
There was a glimmer of hope just one minute later when Jermaine McGlashan was shoved by Mirfin in the box, handing Yates’ side a chance back into the contest from the spot.
But Richards saw his penalty saved by Slocombe, diving to his right to compound a miserable night.
Yates reacted by throwing on Jamie Cureton (for Jason Taylor), Ashley Vincent (Noble) and Terry Gornell (Harrison) and Vincent forced Slocombe into a straight-forward save with a 20-yard free-kick. Troy Brown stabbed one wide a moment later, while Elliott was pressed into attack in the closing stages but it was to no avail.
At the other end, Madden was prevented from extending the cushion ten minutes from time, forcing Brown into a fine instinctive save from 18 yards.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (4-4-2): T Brown; Brundle, T Brown, Elliott (c ), Jombati; Taylor (Cureton 65), Noble (Vincent 65), Deering, Richards; McGlashan, Harrison (Gornell 71). Subs not used: Roberts (Gk), Kotwica, Braham-Barrett, Williams.
SCUNTHORPE UNITED (4-4-2): Slocombe (c ); Nolan, Mirfin, Canavan, Williams; Hawkridge, McAllister (Sparrow 89), Syers, McSheffrey (Adelakun 80); Madden, Winnall (Hayes 80). Subs not used: Ribeiro, Severn (Gk), Waterfall, Alabi.
REFEREE: C Breakspear
ATTENDANCE: 2,080 (237 from Scunthorpe)