Full-time: Robins 3, Grimsby Town 1
Cheltenham Town took a giant stride towards the title with victory over promotion hopefuls Grimsby Town at the World of Smile Stadium.
They moved five points clear of nearest rivals Forest Green Rovers after a barnstorming match here, seeing off the Mariners for the second time this term thanks to goals from James Dayton, Harry Pell and Danny Wright.
Boss Gary Johnson had explained before the match that this one was ‘important, but not pivotal’ but this win puts his side firmly in the driving seat with four games to go.
For the second time in five days Dayton found the top corner with a sublime free-kick, 10 minutes before the interval to give his side a deserved lead.
Andy Monkhouse cancelled it out seven minutes after the break, but Pell restored the lead before Wright popped up with his 24th goal of the campaign to put the seal on the win the World of Smile craved.
The home faithful sense now it - play like this for the final four and it might just be more than a dream.
The Cheltenham side was packed full of attacking intent, with Gary Johnson making two changes to the side defeated at Wrexham on Easter Monday.
George McLennan was preferred at left back, while Amari Morgan-Smith made his first start on the left of a midfield four.
Jordan Cranston dropped to the bench alongside Billy Waters and Jack Munns. James Rowe missed out altogether.
They hustled and harried their opponents and forced them into a number of fouls that ultimately lead to Dayton’s opener.
First the Robins were unfortunate not to get a penalty when Wright went up with Shaun Pearson to meet Morgan-Smith’s cross from the left.
There was no doubt the defender handled it, and TV replays showed that was the case, but the referee blew adjudged that Wright fouled him in the first instance.
Harry Pell then rifled a central free-kick of his own into the defensive wall while Dayton almost repeated his trick at Wrexham, this time Jamie McKeown scrambled across his line to touch this one over for a corner.
Cheltenham suffered a setback with 33 minutes on the clock when skipper Kyle Storer was forced out of the game with a back injury.
The combative midfielder had tried for almost five minutes to shake it off after some lengthy treatment, but in the end Johnson conceded defeat and sent on Jack Munns in his place.
But they responded in the best possible way, with a goal of real quality only two minutes later through Dayton.
It was Harry Pell that created it with a trademark surge down the middle before drawing a cynical challenge from Pearson.
He was booked, and Dayton made him pay with an unstoppable curling free-kick into the top left-hand corner.
Pell blasted another into the wall after the break, but Grimsby were back on terms seven minutes after the turnaround through Monkhouse.
Jack Munns had committed a foul, allowing Jon Nolan to swing in a free-kick into the box. Cheltenham had their chance to clear it but Pell, Morgan-Smith and Parslow all failed to and Monkhouse was on hand to make them pay.
The lead last just seven minutes when Wright brought down a ball from the left, cushioned it with his chest and picked out Pell who did the rest from eight yards.
Holman almost doubled the advantage a moment later, missing the target by a matter of inches from fully 30 yards.
Grimsby had a penalty shout of their own, while Monkhouse’s low cross form the left rolled past everyone before it was cleared to safety.
Pell had another free-kick, this time calling McKeown into a sharp reaction save.
But the Robins deservedly stretched their lead 13 minutes from time through Wright, who had worked tirelessly for his goal, his 24th of the season.
Pell created it down the left, switching play out to the right where he found Dayton.
He teed up Munns, who whipped it in for the striker to guide home with a glancing header.
Flat still needed to drop to deny Patrick Hoban scoring from a tight angle, and punch away Monkhouse’s clever curler from the edge of the box.
And Holman hit the post in injury time, rolling one past McKeown from an angle down the left, but it didn’t matter.
Cheltenham had the win they so craved, with rivals Forest Green Rovers playing the following day at home to Wrexham.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (4-4-2): Flatt; Dickie, Parslow, Burgess, McLennan; Dayton (Barthram 80), Storer (Munns 33), Pell, Morgan-Smith (Cranston 78); Wright, Holman. Subs not used: Barthram, Waters, Kitscha (Gk).
GRIMSBY TOWN (4-4-2): McKeown; Nsiala, Pearson, Gowling, Norwood; Arnold (Bogle 79), Nolan, Disley (c), Monkhouske; Amond, Hoban. Subs not used: Tait, Clay, Pittman, Stewart.
REFEREE: M Coy
ATTENDANCE: 4,003 (542 from Grimsby)