A young Cheltenham Town side suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of Exeter City in their opening match of this season's Leasing.com Trophy.
On paper this will go down as another away defeat without a goal but this was much changed team with a focus on youth and they performed well against an Exeter side packed with experienced pros.
The 38 hardy souls in the away end could have been forgiven for thinking they were in for a long night after the Robins had conceded a goal with only five minutes on the clock but they responded positively to the setback and grew into the game, dominating the second period and creating the chances to get back into it.
In the end they didn't get the break their play deserved and left St James Park empty handied. Cheltenham will next host West Ham United and Newport County in the competition in the coming weeks.
Michael Duff rang the changes, retaining just four of the side defeated at Crawley Town four days ago.
Jacob Greaves, Ben Tozer, Ryan Broom and George Lloyd kept their places while Rhys Lovett (in goal), 18-year old Archie Brennan (right wing back) and 17-year-old Tom Chamberlain (midfield, pictured) were handed a chance to shine.
There was also a first start for Dan Bowry in defence in a side boasting an average age of 21.
The Robins though fell behind as early as the fifth minute when Nicky Ajose raced into the path of Matt Jay's free-kick to apply the faintest of touches and guide it past Lovett from close range.
But they rallied after the early setback and began to get a foothold in the game. There were a couple of half chances for Lloyd and one for Tahvon Campbell, his strike partner on the night.
There was a moment of controversy shortly after the half-hour mark when Lloyd was hauled down after rounding Gary Warren and bearing down on goal. The referee awarded the free-kick just outside the box and only carded the defender when it looked like a penalty or a red card could have been more appropriate. Broom struck the resulting free-kick into the defensive wall before it was cleared.
In the second half the impressive Chamberlain was presented a chance after some fantastic work by Josh Debayo down the left but he couldn't get a clean enough connection with the header to trouble Johnny Maxted in the Grecians' goal.
At the other end, Ajose was a whisker away from doubling the advantage from the edge of the box but his curling effort sailed a foot wide of the target.
Duff made a tripe substitution with a little over 10 minutes to play. Charlie Raglan (Greaves), Sean Long (for Brennan) and Alex Addai (Chamberlain) inspired a late spell of attacking which saw Ben Tozer call Maxted into a smart stop from a tight angle.
Then a well worked move saw Thomas thread a ball into the path of Campbell, who cut a cross back across goal but Lloyd was denied a headed chance by some last gasp defending.
Substitute Josh Key, with a ball in from the right, drew a low stop from Lovett in the final moments and there was a late corner for the Robins, but that came to nothing to leave them frustrated with the result after a promising performance in Devon.
EXETER CITY (4-3-3): Maxted; Richardson, Warren, Parkes, Woodman; Taylor (c) (Key 53), Tillson, Jay; Seymour, Fisher (Williams 61), Ajose (Chrisene 86). Subs not used: Ward (Gk), Martin, Sparkes, Collins.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): Lovett; Bowry, Tozer (c), Greaves (Raglan 77); Brennan (Long 77), Chamberlain (Addai 77), Broom, Thomas, Debayo; Lloyd, Campbell. Subs not used: Flinders (Gk), Hussey, Reilly.
REFEREE: K Johnson
ATTENDANCE: 786 (38 from Cheltenham)