Report: Cheltenham 0-0 Gateshead
Cheltenham Town and Gateshead played out a far from entertaining 0-0 draw.
The Robins had few good chances to unlock a well-drilled Gateshead defence.
Gateshead had the better of the early possession but couldn't force any chances at Dillon Phillips' goal. After weeks of carnival-like atmosphere at the World of Smile Stadium, the crowd were subdue in the first 10 minutes as the Robins had to sit and defend instead of getting the ball forward to Dan Holman or Danny Wright.
As the game approached the 20 minute mark, there was still nothing to proverbially write home about. Most of the game was played in the middle of the park with neither team getting a stranglehold on possession.
In the 21st minute Gateshead had the best chance of the half. Matthew Pattison slid the ball through to an on-rushing Rob Ramshaw whose shot hit the inside of the post but rebounded clear of danger.
As the game crept ever closer to the half-hour mark Gateshead continued to deal with the dangerous front four of Wright, Holman, Dayton and Rowe whilst Pattison became the main outlet for the Heed. James Curtis and skipper Ben Clark particularly dealt well with Holman and Wright, beating the in-form strikers in the air at almost every occasion.
It took until the 32nd minute for the first real Cheltenham chance of the game, Jack Barthram's driven cross from the right was chested down by Wright to an oncoming Asa Hall but his shanked shot went wide of Sam Russell's goal. Dan Holman was getting himself into good positions for the Robins but couldn't get the rub of the green to turn them into chances.
At the break there was very little for the crowd to get excited about, this Robins side didn't look like the one that was top of the league neither did it look like one that had just gone 21 league games unbeaten.
Cheltenham were the first team to return to the pitch after the half-time team talks while the Heed replaced Rob Ramshaw with Jon Shaw. Four minutes into the second 45 Jordan Cranston, playing against his former team, whipped in a ball to Dan Holman but the striker sent his header just wide. Asa Hall played an inch-perfect ball over the top of the defence to Dan Holman, but Ben Clark cleared the ball with a last ditch slide tackle as the striker bared down on goal.
Captain Kyle Storer came to the rescue of the Cheltenham defence after he cleared the ball off the line from a Gateshead corner as the Heed continued to carve out chances.
On the 67th minute Billy Waters replaced James Dayton as the Robins desperately needed some energy and trickery in the final third to unlock the Gateshead defence. Waters was in on the action within seconds, Kyle Storer squared the ball to him from a free-kick but his curling shot was dealt with easily by Russell.
On the 74th minute Russell pulled off a brilliant double save to keep his team in the game, Dan Holman hit a half-volley from just outside the box which he parried to James Rowe but Russell got down low to save that shot too.
Cheltenham continued to be dominated in the air as the balls forward paid little dividends, both Wright and Holman could do little to boost their impressive goal tallies for the season.
The best chance of the match of the Robins came within minutes of the final whistle, Danny Wright knocked the ball down to Asa Hall, who was yards out, but his shot was dealt with well by Russell again.
Jamie Chandler could have won it in the final minute but his cut back shot was blocked by Jordan Cranston.
At the full-time whistle and just like their encounter earlier in the season the game finished in a draw. The unbeaten run extends to 22 games but the gap at the top is now just two points.
Cheltenham Town: Phillips; Barthram (McLennan 90+2'), Burgess, Parslow, Cranston; Dayton (Waters 67'), Storer (C), Hall, Rowe; Wright, Holman
Subs not used: Lovett (Gk), Lymn, Munns
Gateshead: Russell; Bennett, Curtis, Clark (C), Whitmore; Ramshaw (Shaw 46'), McLaughlin, Mafuta (Chandler 66'), Pattison (Johnson 76'), Hamilton, Bowman
Subs not used: Pearson (Gk), Baxter
Referee: Mr D Treleaven
Attendance: 2201 (12 Away)