Cheltenham Town drew 1-1 against fellow League Two high flyers Cambridge United at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.
In a second against third clash under the lights, Ben Tozer’s first half goal was chalked off by Paul Mullin's strike deep into second half stoppage time.
Michael Duff named an unchanged side against Cambridge after winning 3-0 against Walsall on Saturday. A win over the Saddlers was Cheltenham's fourth win in a row to leapfrog tonight’s opposition into second place in the League Two table.
Without a game on Saturday after a late postponement because of Covid-19 against Southend United, Cambridge travelled to the Jonny-Rocks as the league top scorers whilst also boasting the best defensive record in League Two.
So it was no surprise that Josh Griffiths was called into action early on in the first period. After Cheltenham probed from a succession of corner kicks, Matty Blair was left alone against Mullin as Cambridge goalkeeper Dimitar Mitov lofted the ball into Cheltenham’s half.
On the back foot, Blair did well to put pressure on the United striker who failed to convert past Griffiths as the Robins stopper went in search for a tenth clean sheet in all competitions this season.
After a tame start to the first half, former Norwich City and Ireland international Wes Hoolahan came close to carving out an opening for the visitors. His set-piece delivery from a wide free-kick on 20th minute almost found centre-back Robbie Cundy at the far post.
Cambridge striker Mullin was up for the battle between these two high-flying League Two sides - he came off worse under a challenge with Cheltenham’s Charlie Raglan to add some four minutes to the first half, to the benefit of Duff’s side.
On the cusp of half time, Chris Hussey stood over a free kick from a promising position as the Robins went in search of the game’s first goal. Cambridge goalkeeper Mitov matched Hussey’s well struck effort, but his efforts were to no avail as Tozer was on hand to prod into an empty net.
Scoring his second goal in as many games this term, Tozer has already matched half of his goal tally from last season.
The second half started with Cambridge on the front foot, particularly Hoolahan who began to have an effect on proceedings as the hour mark approached.
Combinations with Hiram Boateng and Luke Hannant failed to produce a goal for the visitors though, while Cheltenham were forced to revert to a pragmatic approach in order to keep the league’s top scorers at bay.
Liam Sercombe was penalised for a foul after turning a well-worked set piece routine into a goal on the 65th minute, but despite the hosts’ gesticulations, Cambridge were let off the hook.
After a committed and organised display, Cheltenham were made to pay for failing to clear a corner kick deep into added time as Mullin converted from inside the box.
Cheltenham will host Crew Alexandra at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 15:00) in the FA Cup second round.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): Josh Griffiths (Gk), B Tozer, C Raglan, W Boyle, C Hussey, M Blair, C Thomas (F Azaz ’75), L Sercombe, E Chapman, A Williams (R Reid ’82), A May (G Lloyd ’82). Subs not used: S Flinders (Gk), C Clements, L Freestone, T Sang.
CAMBRIDGE UNITED (4-4-1-1): D Mitov (Gk), K Knoyle, G Taylor, R Cundy, J Iredale (H Knibbs '85), H Boateng, P Digby, L Hannant, H Dunk (J Ironside ’78), W Hoolahan, P Mullin. Subs not used: C Burton (Gk), H Darling, L Davies, I El Mizouni, A May.
REFEREE: Craig Hicks. Assistants: Paul Stonier, Alistair Nelson. Fourth Official: Kevin Howick.