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Match Reports

Report & highlights: Scunthorpe United 1-0 Robins

8 February 2020

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Below par Cheltenham Town slipped to a narrow defeat at Scunthorpe United with John McAtee grabbing the only goal of the contest during the first half.

It's the Robins' seventh reverse in succession at the Sands Venue Stadium, as it's now called, but the reality on this occasion is that they didn't do enough to convert their promising play into meaningful chances.

Michael Duff didn't hide his frustration after the match, bemoaning the performance of his side but they now have a chance to rectify things in four days time with another testing long trip north, this time to Carlisle United.

On the plus side they remain seventh this evening by virtue of the favourable results of their play-off rivals but they will need to quickly rediscover their swagger if they are to maintain their promotion aspirations.

Duff made one change here, restoring Ryan Broom to the starting line-up at the expense of Max Sheaf. Reuben Reid returned for the first time since the match against Cambridge United in mid-December and took his place on an attack minded bench, with Rohan Ince missing out.

The game was lively in the opening exchanges. Alfie May went close to hooking one within seconds of the start while Alex Gilliead almost caught out Owen Evans with a 20 yarder that cleared the bar.

Although the Robins enjoyed a lot of the early ball they found themselves with a lot of defending to do and Charlie Raglan was in the thick of it, making a string of vital interceptions to break down the attacking play.

But Scunthorpe found a way through in the 18th minute through McAtee, who had sprung the Robins' high defensive line to race on to a long diagonal ball and round Evans, finishing from a tight angle down the left.

Cheltenham produced a good move to get back in it with 28 minutes played. Greaves's enterprising touch found Chris Hussey in an advanced position down the left, and he pulled it back into the path of May but the livewire striker didn't get a decent enough connection to trouble Ian Lawlor in the Scunthorpe goal.

May went closer five minutes later after he was found by Luke Varney, but he put his effort into the side netting. At the other end Dutchman Kevin van Veen sent a 25-yard free-kick well over the target.

Tom Nichols and Reuben Reid were pressed into action after the break, replacing Conor Thomas and Varney as the Robins continued to enjoy the lion's share of possession without really converting it into meaningful chances. Abo Eisa – Mo's younger brother – blasted two high and wide in quick succession as the Iron continue to create openings of their own.

The substitutions began to make the difference and with 20 minites to go, May found Broom out wide who centred for Nichols but the new boy couldn't reach it to test the goalkeeper. A moment later May did force Lawlor into a stop, albeit a relatively comfortable one.

The goalscorer McAtee saw a well struck effort from 20 yards flew past the angle of Evans' goal in the closing stages.

And Evans made a fantastic stop, diving to his right to prevent skipper Andy Butler heading home a second to keep his side in the contest with ten minutes to play.

The game should have been out of sight, two minutes from time, when van Veen dragged a golden opportunity across the face of goal from 12 yards. And the Robins were thankful to Jacob Greaves for a perfect last-ditch intervention to deny the Dutchman a shooting chance on the stroke of time.

However there was enough time for two great chances in added on time to snatch a point. The first came about when Hussey whipped a free-kick to the far post, allowing Long to slide in with an effort that rolled agonisingly across the face of goal. Then seconds later, Reid chested one down for May to hammer a half-volley but Lawlor was equal to it.

SCUNTHORPE UNITED (4-3-3): Lawlor; Gabriel, McGahey, Butler (c), Bedeau; Perch, McAtee, Sutton; Gilliead, van Veen (Miller 90), Eisa. Subs not used: Watson (Gk), Colclough, Butroid, Green, Beestin, Liddle.

CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): Evans; Raglan, Tozer (c), Greaves; Long, Thomas (Nichols 57), Broom, Doyle-Hayes, Hussey; May, Varney (Reid 65). Subs not used: Lapworth (Gk), Sheaf, Boyle, Addai, Debayo.

REFEREE: C Pollard

ATTENDANCE: 3,159 (away tbc)


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