Full-time: Wycombe Wanderers 2, Robins 1Cheltenham Town’s survival bid will go down to the wire after a fifth straight defeat, this time at Wycombe Wanderers.
It was a full blooded encounter, low on quality, but one where once again the Robins were the architects of their own downfall after finding a way back into the game early in the second half.
They had lost Wes Burns and Jordan Wynter to injury by the time Aaron Pierre made the breakthrough in the second minute of first-half injury time.
Gary Johnson's side were back on terms nine minutes after the break through substitute Durrell Berry, only to gift the home side a second less than 60 seconds later.
This fine ground has played host to some wonderful Cheltenham Town performances in recent years, but this was not one of them.
The Robins have now lost five on the spin and the most optimistic supporters must be wondering where those elusive wins are going to come from.
They welcome Cambridge United on Tuesday evening, knowing that with only four games to play a win is essential.
But, perhaps remarkably after only four wins in 37 games to date, there’s still hope - just.
Hartlepool United and Tranmere Rovers both lost so it looks set to be two from three for the drop after Carlisle United took a giant stride to safety with victory.
The margin to safety remains three points tonight, and a win on Tuesday evening could totally change the complexion at the foot of the table.
Jack Deaman was the first player to go into the book as early as the fifth minute, clattering into Joe Jacobson on the corner of the box.
It handed Sam Saunders an early chance to swing one in, but Aaron Holloway couldn’t get enough on his header to test Trevor Carson.
Deaman, who was lucky to remain on the pitch after a meaty challenge with goalkeeper Matt Ingram on the stroke of half-time, was one of two changes made by Gary Johnson, replacing Will Packwood in central defence. The American picked up a hamstring injury in the Easter Monday defeat by Stevenage at Whaddon Road.
Matt Sparrow came in for Joe Hanks, who dropped to the bench.
There were some early scares, Burns requiring treatment for an early ankle injury and Troy Brown was fortunate to not to be penalised for a couple of penalty box tussles with Fred Onyedinma and Aaron Pierre in the opening quarter of an hour.
Burns continued for around 20 minutes but eventually conceded defeat midway through the first half and was subsequently replaced by Danny Haynes.
Cheltenham struggled to carry a threat but Mathieu Manset registered a rare chance, latching onto a loose defensive clearance only to drive one well off target.
Carson was called into his first meaningful save 20 minutes in to deny Onyedinma, and there was a real let off on the half-hour when Nico Yennaris’s drive from fully 25 yards beat Carson but came back off the underside of the bar and bounced on the line before it was scrambled to safety.
It certainly looked close, over from where the press were gathered.
The game was held up for several minutes after a bruising coming-together between Wynter and Jacobson, who had played every minute of each game this season for the home side before limping off a minute before the break.
He was swiftly followed by Wynter who was also forced down the tunnel, again with what appeared to be another ankle injury.
As the board went up for eight minutes of first half injury time, Durrell Berry was pressed into action.
It was at that point that the Choirboys struck in the second minute of added-on time.
It came about after an almighty scramble in the Cheltenham penalty area which saw some desperate defending to prevent a couple of goal bound efforts before Deaman threw himself in front of Alfie Mawson’s strike, resulting in a corner from the right.
It was sent in to the far post, where Pierre collected it and found a route to goal through the congested box to hand his side a first half lead.
Deaman came to the rescue immediately after the restart to prevent Yennaris guiding home Paul Hayes’ delivery from the right.
Ingram was finally forced into a save in the 54th minute, albeit a routine one, to hold a Matt Richards’ free-kick from 25 yards.
But he was unable to stop Berry levelling the match a moment later after skipper Paul Hayes surrendered possession on the edge of the box.
The substitute picked it up and fired home to claim Cheltenham’s first goal in four outings.
It was a lifeline, against the run of play, but they tossed it away less than 60 seconds later when they failed to deal with Saunder’s corner which found the unmarked Mawson who beat Carson from close range.
Onyedinma and Vaughan exchanged headers, both missing the target from decent positions and Saunders wasted a good opportunity to stretch the lead 23 minutes from time, shooting wide from the edge of the box.
Matt Taylor was Johnson’s final change, to replace Deaman with 73 minutes on the clock, seconds before Saunders tested Carson with a dipping free-kick form 20 yards.
The 273 travelling Cheltenham supporters urged a late rally, but it wasn’t forthcoming and now they have four days to prepare for the visit of the Us.
WYCOMBE WANDERERS (4-3-3): Ingram; Yennaris, Mawson, Pierre, Jacobson (Murphy 44); Saunders, Bloomfield, Wood; Onyedinma, Holloway (Craig 89), Hayes (c). Subs not used: Lynch (Gk), Bean, Fletcher, McClure, Ephraim.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (4-2-3-1): Carson; Vaughan, Deaman (Taylor 73), Brown (c), Braham-Barrett; Sparrow, Richards; Wynter (Berry 45), Manset, McDonald; Burns (Haybes 27). Subs not used: Gould (Gk), Mills, Hanks, Harrad.
REFEREE: T Harrington
ATTENDANCE: 3,907 (273 from Cheltenham)