Full-time: Plymouth Argyle 3, Robins 0Cheltenham Town were consigned to a heavy defeat at Plymouth Argyle’s Home Park ground this afternoon.
Mark Yates’ side were made to pay for a below-par performance in Devon, one at odds with Tuesday night’s hard-fought success in Cambridge.
That’s not to take anything away from Plymouth, who turned in an impressive display with Bobby Reid the pick of the outstanding performers in green.
All the damage was done in the first half when goals by Reuben Reid and Peter Hartley left the Robins with it all to do after the break.
Yates made two changes, replacing the suspended John Marquis with Byron Harrison while Omari Sterling-James came in for Joe Hanks in midfield.
Plymouth were unchanged, matching the Robins in a 3-5-2 formation and fashioned the first real chance of the match with 13 minutes played.
Curtis Nelson met a corner delivered by Bobby Reid, the former Robins loanee, but Byron Harrison blocked on the line.
Gornell nodded over a moment later but the home side had made a good start with Rueben Reid causing the Cheltenham defence some early problems.
The big striker had gone close with a couple of chances before finally making the breakthrough with 23 minutes on the clock.
It was a slick move down the right, Kelvin Mellor nutmegging Craig Braham-Barrett and swapping passes with Lewis Alessandra before teeing up Reuben Reid to fire home from the edge of the box.
Mellor and Alessandra combined well down the right flank and created another opening shortly after the half-hour, although Bobby Reid’s final ball was poor.
Cheltenham stuck to their task and found some success of their own down the right, but Plymouth dealt with a couple of menacing low crosses.
Carson was then called into a diving stop to prevent Bobby Reid extending the lead from 25 yards. The Argyle winger took the resulting corner and found Carl McHugh with a pinpoint delivery, but the centre half lifted it over the bar.
But the home faithful saw their side stretch their lead in the final minute of the first half when Hartley rose to meet Kellett’s free-kick from the right.
Braham-Barrett had been cautioned for impeding Bobby Reid, handing the left-sided midfielder the opportunity to sling an inviting ball into the box.
It should have been three on the whistle, but Kellett wasted the opening by stabbing one wide of the target.
Seconds into the second half, it was Reuben Reid’s turn to squander a golden opportunity from 10 yards out.
There was a chance for Jason Taylor, who drilled one a foot wide of the left upright from 20 yards and Matt Richards curled one high and wide on the hour, but it needed a change and Yates made it on the hour.
On came Eusebio for Sterling-James, and Cheltenham enjoyed their best spell of the match. Plymouth had been temporarily reduced to ten men with 23 minutes to play when Harrison opened up a chance for Vaughan, who fired over.
Then the striker created a chance out of nothing, but he pulled his shot wide from an angle.
Richards was presented a chance to test Luke McCormick with a 20-yard free-kick, but he lofted it over the bar.
Plymouth though always looked capable of raising their game and they sealed the contest 14 minutes from time when Alessandra raced onto Bobby Reid’s threaded ball and slipped one under Carson to make it three.
PLYMOUTH ARGYLE (3-5-2): McCormick; Nelson (c), McHugh (Harvey 82), Hartley; Mellor, B Reid, O’Connor, Blizzard, Kellett; R Reid (Smalley 72), Alessandra (Banton 82). Subs not used: Bittner (Gk), Cox, Norburn, Morgan.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): Carson (c); Brown, Deaman, Elliott; Vaughan, Sterling-James (Eusebio 61), Taylor (Hanks 85), Richards, Braham-Barrett; Gornell, Harrison (Haworth 85). Subs not used: Gould (Gk), Kotwica, Black, De Vita.
REFEREE: A Davies
ATTENDANCE: 6,837 (196 from Cheltenham)