Two first-half goals from Kurtis Guthrie and Steve Seddon were enough as Cheltenham Town fell to a home defeat against Stevenage at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium in Sky Bet League Two.
Robins defender Chris Hussey pressed the issue in the second period as his dangerous crosses provided the hosts with some hope of getting themselves back into the game, but it wasn’t to be for Michael Duff’s side.
The gaffer made one change to his line-up after the midweek loss at Oldham, as Tyrone Barnett returned and the suspended Sam Jones dropped out.
Despite the final result, it was a bright and confident start from the hosts as they looked to build from the back and put some good passes together, but Stevenage were the first to threaten.
A cross form visiting defender Ben Nugent looped dangerously to the back-post, but Robins left-back Hussey stood his ground well to see the ball out of play.
Will Boyle continued the defensive heroics with an excellent sliding challenge to deny the away side a dangerous opportunity on goal. From that tackle, the Robins broke upfield down the right wing and a cross saw Luke Varney flick the ball onto Barnett, but his header was tame and straight at Seny Dieng.
Cheltenham had to be on-hand again when some good interplay by Stevenage saw them create some space in the eighteen-yard box, but Nigel Atangana intervened with a timely interception to deny the visitors a strike on goal.
Stevenage were using the right wing well and got the game’s opening goal down that side as Jamal Campbell-Ryce had all the time to whip a cross into the area, and Guthrie had time to cushion his header past Robins stopper Scott Flinders.
They came close to doubling their lead soon after when a ball into Cheltenham’s area wasn’t cleared, and striker Alex Revell somehow managed to sky his effort from just a few yards out.
A cagey ten minutes ensued where neither the Robins, nor their counterparts could get a foothold in the match. Michael Duff’s men won a corner after some good work from Jacob Maddox down the left ten minutes before the interval. This saw a set-piece routine worked in as Chris Clements pulled the ball to Chris Hussey on the edge of the box, but the defender badly miscued his effort.
However, it was Hussey who had the Robins best chance of the half and the game. Some good hold up play from forward Varney saw him win a free-kick 25-yards out and it took a fine save from visiting keeper Dieng to claw the left-back’s effort out.
Unfortunately, the Robins’ short spell on the ball was undone and they found themselves with a huge task to overcome when they went 2-0 down at half-time. Varney found himself defending against a Stevenage attack and some poor control gifted the visitors a free strike on goal, which Steve Seddon took with ease as he curled a left-footed strike beyond Flinders.
Cheltenham started the second period defending again as they managed to fend off a dangerous counter-attack from the visitors.
But the home side began to put their stamp on the second 45 and only a foul by Stevenage defender Scott Cuthbert – which resulted in a yellow card – denied Luke Varney a clear run on goal.
Varney nearly restored some order after a brilliant cross from Clements fell through to him at the back post, but the striker’s header across goal failed to find onrushing substitute, Kelsey Mooney.
The Robins chances continued as well as Maddox worked himself some space on the edge of the box, but his effort went over the crossbar.
Stevenage enjoyed a flurry of corners with 20 minutes remaining and keeper Scott Flinders, who was under considerable pressure on the line, did extremely well to tip behind a dangerous delivery.
Chris Hussey’s crosses down the left were a constant outlet for Duff’s side as they looked to get back into the game and a corner presented substitute Jordon Forster with a chance on the volley but again the effort went over the bar as the wait for a home victory this season continues.
ROBINS: Flinders (Gk), Alcock (Forster 82’), Mullins, Boyle, Hussey, Broom, Clements, Atangana (Mooney 56’), Clements, Maddox, Barnett, Varney. Subs not used: Lovett, Tozer, McAlinden, Addai, Field
STEVENAGE: Dieng (Gk), Wildin, Hunt, Timlin, Cuthbert, Byrom, Revell, Seddon, Campbell-Ryce (Ferry 62’, Wilkinson 88’), Guthrie, Nugent. Subs not used: Ball, Kennedy, Sonupe, Vancooten, Smyth.
ATTENDANCE: 2,382 (192 away)
REFEREE: Matthew Donohue