Having gone eight games without a win, scoring just three league goals since August 30th, Cheltenham Town’s game against Northampton Town was a pivotal one.
A win was imperative for the out-of-form Robins in front of their home supporters, and thankfully they delivered; as faith in Mark Yates and his men was strengthened after a five-goal thriller.
It was pleasing to see Yates gamble with his starting eleven, deploying a 3-4-3 formation, with popular striker Terry Gornell joining Byron Harrison and mercurial loanee Eusebio Bancessi in attack.
This tactical change soon looked a success, as the Robins showed significantly improved attacking impetus upon previous weeks, while midfielders Matt Richards and Jason Taylor enhanced this with accomplished displays.
Unsurprisingly, the Cobblers also looked dangerous going forward, though they were matched by Yates’ defence, which had thankfully returned to its usual steady state after a torrid performance at Shrewsbury.
Even when captain Matt Taylor was forced off, Cheltenham were by no means fazed, as youngster Jack Deaman yet again deputised admirably.
The Robins’ first-half opener was no more than they deserved, as the tireless Gornell found the top corner after a Richards fee-kick, much to the delight of his teammates and supporters alike.
The key for Cheltenham Town was to avoid another repeat of the Shrewsbury debacle, by ensuring that they didn’t concede early in the second half.
This simple principle was, however, lamentably ignored, as Joel Byrom equalised just three minutes after the interval. With substitute Kaid Mohamed wreaking havoc, Northampton looked the more likely winners, as the former Robin was unfortunate to strike the post from close range.
In many respects, this piece of luck would go on to be crucial, as Yates’ men, buoyed by Mohamed’s failure to score, began to turn the screw, finding their way back into the game.
Wing-backs Craig Braham-Barrett and Lee Vaughan proved exciting going forward, while the enigma that is Eusebio lit up the game with his breath-taking trickery, before winning a 78th minute free-kick.
As Bancessi knelt on the touchline - apparently in prayer - the impressive Richards provided the all-important delivery, before Gornell headed home, saluting a rapturous Whaddon Road.
Just minutes later, rapture was converted to unbridled ecstasy when substitute John Marquis poked home the third; again from a Richards set-piece.
David Moyo set up a tense finish with a late header, however the Cobblers paid the penalty for their game-stalling tactics, as the Robins ran out deserved winners.
Now just a win away from the top seven, things are looking considerably more positive for Cheltenham Town. The goal-drought appears to be over, while an all-elusive victory was at last secured.
With smiles back on the faces of Yates, the players and supporters, there is certainly cause for increased optimism. The victory could well act as the catalyst in kick-starting our season, as we all hope that the Robins can now replicate their start-of-season form, and begin climbing the table.
Ultimately, however, the day will be remembered for the performance of now top-scorer Terry Gornell, who emphatically proved his critics wrong with a magnificent display. Here’s to many, many more!
Out of 10
Trevor Carson - 7 - Faultless for the two goals, and otherwise performed superbly.
Troy Brown - 7 - A huge improvement upon his disappointing display at Shrewsbury.
Matt Taylor - 6 - Performed admirably, until forced off through injury.
Steve Elliott - 7 - An excellent, physically-dominant showing from the veteran.
Lee Vaughan - 7 - Thoroughly impressive going forward and in defence.
Jason Taylor - 7 - Instrumental in the Robins’ midfield.
Matt Richards - 8 - Also instrumental, playing a part in all three goals.
Craig Braham-Barrett - 7 - A really pleasing display, particularly going forward.
Eusebio Bancessi - 6 - Produced some immense pieces of skill but lacked end-product at times.
Byron Harrison - 7 - A much better performance from the striker, who is slowly regaining his form.
Terry Gornell - 8 - An outstanding display from Gornell, who should have had a hat-trick.
Jack Deaman - 7 - Stood in brilliantly for Taylor, showing superb determination.
John Marquis - 7 - A much better performance saw the loanee pop-up with the winner.
Joe Hanks - Not on long enough to rate.