Full Time: Hartlepool 0, Robins 1
A run of two games was ended as Cheltenham Town ran out 1-0 winners at Hartlepool United's Victoria Park.
Cheltenham Town and Hartlepool had played out an enthralling game and the Robins had threatened through Billy Daniel's strike off the post at the start of the second half but it was Jermaine McGlashan's back post strike that handed the Robins all three point in what was a deserved win.
Three precious points as the long journey home began but one that could be thoroughly enjoyed.
The longest away journey of the season for Cheltenham Town and Mark Yates had commented in the week prior to the game that he wanted to get a result for the fans who had made the long trek. The Robins chief made two changes to his starting eleven with Michael Ihiekwe and new loan signing Billy Daniels coming into the fold at the expense of Steve Elliott (ankle injury) and Jason Taylor. Both sides had lost their last two games and both were lining up in similar formations - a recipe for a close game.
It was a cold afternoon at Victoria Park with the wind rolling off the North Sea and both teams were battling to win the early possession in this contest. New loan signing Billy Daniels was the first man to record an effort at goal by getting his head on the end of a Byron Harrison crosses but it was safely over the bar and Hartlepool avoided an early slip. They soon had their opportunity however when a Jack Compton cross from the left found the boot of Franks but his shot was blocked and the rebounded effort from Brad Walker was clawed away by the alert Scott Brown. The home side were confident with the ball on the floor and several fast flowing attack were threatening to wobble the Robins defence in the opening stages of this match but thankfully Brown was remaining alert on his goal line as he comfortably collected a Compton strike with the Pools midfielder cutting in well off the wing.
Billy Daniels' snap shot wide of goal after 18 minutes offered relief from the growing Hartlepool pressure but the hosts were soon back on the case with Jack Barmby forcing a good low save form the gloves of Brown with a 20 yard strike. The Robins did begin to drag themselves into the action more on the half hour mark and that even brought about a left footed strike from Mitch Brundle that ultimately proved to be a comfortable catch for Flinders in the Pools net. Jack Barmby, son of Nick, got himself yellow carded on 38 minutes for a rash and late challenge on Sam Deering.
Cheltenham's final opportunity of the game came courtesy of McGlashan who had got in behind the Pools defence courtesy of Deering's chipped ball over but he could only find the gloves of the goalkeeper with an overhead effort. Jack Barmby soon followed up with his own shot on target for the hosts but again it was a comfortable save for Brown and the scores were level as the half time whistle was blown.
Half Time: Hartlepool United 0-0 Cheltenham Town
There was a spring in the step of Cheltenham Town after the break and new signing Billy Daniels almost handed them a golden start with an out-swinging strike crashing against the post much to the relief of Hartlepool and their goalkeeper Flinders. The hosts weren't without their threats though and a good save from Brown was needed from Darren Holden's driven effort and the Robins were thankful that Luke James was unable to hit the target with his rebound effort. A David Noble sweeping effort did little to panic Flinders as it drifted wide of the goal on 54 minutes and a lofted attempt by Jombati was caught with ease by the Pools goalkeeper minutes later but the signs were positive for Cheltenham as the game approached the hour mark.
Already the half was much livelier than the first half but Hartlepool really should have snatched the lead on 63 minutes. Pressure on the Robins backline was beginning to stretch the defenders and a cross from the right wing to Compton at the back post offered promise but the midfielder put his headed effort wide despite having no pressure on him at all. A Matt Richards freekick five minutes later forced a comfortable yet needed save from Fliners and the resulting goal kick almost provided the breakthrough of the game. Jonathan Franks caught hold of pass from the left wing stemming from Flinder's goal kick but Michael Ihiekwe produced a solid block to save Cheltenham.
The game was finely poised and you could sense a goal for either side could take the match in a whole new direction - on 74 minutes that goal became reality. Byron Harrison's mazy run into the box was finally cleared by the Pools defence but only into the path of Jombati who dropped a delightful cross to the back post where Jermaine McGlashan was on hand to smash it into the back of the net from close range. The Robins celebrated with passion before making a point of celebrating with the fans who had made the long journey.
A yellow card for Mitch Brundle ten minutes from time was shown after he took down Holden on the far side but the resulting freekick came to nothing as Cheltenham held a solid line. Hartlepool were desperate to equalise and they came close again with James Poole's low shot but he was dismayed as he saw team-mate Luke James deflect it wide of goal. Mark Yates made his first substitution of the game withdrawing David Noble for Jason Taylor but the big midfielder almost saw his side concede a goal straight away. Burgess' thunderous shot was heading for the beck of the net only for the head of Luke James to provide the block leaving the forward with a stinging headache.
Hartlepool had a golden opportunity to steal an equaliser in the second minute of injury time after Richards was adjudged to have handled the ball 20 yards from goal but Compton's freekick was blocked well by the wall and Mark Yates soon beckoned Byron Harrison and he was replaced by Gornell. Some final pressure from the hosts threatened to upset the Robins but solid and brave defending was enough to deny Hartlepool and hand all three points to the deserving Cheltenham Town.
The win ended a run of two defeats and provided the loyal travelling fans with the reward they deserved.
Full Time: Hartlepool United 0-1 Cheltenham Town
Hartlepool United FC (4-4-2 Diamond): Flinders (GK); Duckworth, Collins, Burgess, Holden; Walton, Walker (Hawkins 82), Compton, Barmby (Poole 58); Franks (Rutherford 84), James.
Subs not used: Rafferty (GK), Rutherford, Richards, Rowbotham, Jones
Cheltenham Town FC (4-4-2 Diamond): S Brown (GK); Brundle, T Brown, Ihiekwe, Jombati; Noble (Taylor 87), Deering, Richards, Daniels; Harrison (Gornell 90+3), McGlashan
Subs not used: Roberts (GK), Braham-Barrett, Kotwica, Vincent, Cureton
Referee: Mr. A, Haines
Attendance: 3,328 (104 from Cheltenham)