An own goal and first half finishes from Kevin Dawson and Billy Waters ensured it was a happy home finale for Cheltenham Town as their goals helped earn hard-fought victory in their local derby against Swindon Town.
Two late strikes from Swindon strikers Theo Robinson and Marc Richards made it a nervy end to the game for the home side, but they held on to continue their fine home form this year in the final home match of the campaign at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.
Manager Michael Duff made four changes for the Robins final home game of the 2018/19 season, with Sean Long, Will Boyle, Kevin Dawson and Jacob Maddox replacing Matt Bower, Ryan Broom, Jordan Tillson and George Lloyd.
The visitors had a very early chance to open the contest when Kyle Bennett danced past a couple of Cheltenham challenges, but the midfielder failed to make the most of the opening as he blasted his effort high over the bar.
In an opening 45 which had few chances and despite seeing less of the ball, the Robins seized the initiative thanks to some bad decision making from the Swindon Town defence.
After working space in the middle of the field, Jacob Maddox spread the ball to right-back Long who had time and space to pick a cross and although no Robins players attacked the cross, Swindon defender Luke Woolfenden didn’t receive a call from his backline and his header fooled Luke McCormick in goal to give the home side the lead.
The Robins found confidence from their opener and doubled their lead just minutes later from a scrappy situation in the Swindon penalty area as both teams failed to head the ball in the desired direction.
However, striker Billy Waters was the last to get his head to the ball as he powered home Cheltenham’s second past the helpless McCormick.
It got even better for Duff’s men when Irishman midfielder Dawson got in on the scoring act to score his fifth of the campaign.
Conor Thomas’ deliveries were causing trouble before for the away side, but Cheltenham finally capitalised on the danger when captain Ben Tozer nodded Thomas’ delivery across goal, and the onrushing Dawson beat McCormick to the ball to put Cheltenham in a dominant position going into the second half.
A Swindon fightback in the second half was well dealt with by the Robins defence, who held a firm line and restricted the visitors’ presence in the game, although Michael Doughty did evade Cheltenham’s grasp from a set-piece at the beginning of the half to pull an effort off, but Robins keeper Flinders easily saw the ball fly over his crossbar.
The resilient defending continued from Duff’s men after a dangerous delivery forced top-scorer Luke Varney into an evasive clearance, before a brave block by Long stopped Matty Taylor’s fierce drilled effort troubling goalkeeper Flinders in the Cheltenham net.
It wasn’t all backs to the wall for the Robins in the second half and after keeping his spot in the team over first-choice left-back Chris Hussey, Cameron Pring enjoyed a mazy run down the wing after beating two Swindon defenders to put the ball on a plate for Waters in the box, and only a last ditch interception denied Cheltenham a fourth goal.
Despite a solid display for large parts of the second period, striker Theo Robinson netted a consolation goal for the visitors which meant the Robins have only kept one clean sheet in their last five home games.
Substitute Marc Richards put Cheltenham on their toes and despite a brilliant save from Flinders to hinder Swindon’s momentum, forward Richards was on hand to poke the ball home to give the Robins a scare going into the final four minutes of stoppage time but the Robins held on.
ROBINS: Flinders (GK), Long, Raglan, Tozer, Boyle, Pring, Dawson (Tillson 86’), Thomas, Maddox (Clements 71’), Waters (Addai 82’), Varney. Subs not used: Lovett, Broom, Lloyd, Bingham.
SWINDON: McCormick (Gk), Knoyle (Anderson 45’), Doughty (Richards 69’), McCourt, Carroll, Woolery (Lancashire 45’), Conroy, Taylor, Woolfenden, Robinson, Bennett. Subs not used: Henry (Gk), Dunne, House, Diagouraga.
ATTENDANCE: 4,306 (1,113 away fans)
REFEREE: T. Nield