Cheltenham Town have registered a second League Two win in a row as Reuben Reid’s penalty helped the hosts narrowly beat Scunthorpe United at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.
A 1-0 win over The Iron has retained the Robins’ positive start to the league campaign.
Scunthorpe travelled to the Jonny-Rocks without first team manager Neil Cox and assistant manager Mark Lillis after one of their players tested positive for COVID-19.
Cheltenham and visitors Scunthorpe came into this one in contrasting form. Saturday's victory at Southend United had put Michael Duff's side into the top three of the division, whereas visitors Scunthorpe had conceded 11 goals in three straight losses.
Cheltenham made early use of the opposition's difficult form by opening the scoring through Reid in the fourth minute. Ben Tozer’s long throw was the source of confusion for visitors’ defence who struggled to clear the ball inside a crowded penalty box.
Under a challenge from George Henshaw, Elliot Bonds won a spot kick for the hosts and Reid dispatched with aplomb by sending goalkeeper Rory Watson the wrong way.
Duff handed Reid his first League Two start of the season as he replaced Andy Williams despite Cheltenham’s new signing scoring twice in his last three starts. Cheltenham boss Duff also welcomed back Tom Sang to the matchday squad, but he would’ve preferred to hand the on-loan midfielder his first appearance after injury in better circumstances.
Penalty winner Bonds departed the field of play on a stretcher in the first half after receiving lengthy treatment following an innocuous challenge.
Sang himself had returned from injury to replace Grant Horton among the substitutes after missing Cheltenham’s last two outings, but Duff’s injury worries will not have eased with the loss of not only Bonds, but George Lloyd too.
Following his first league goal for the Robins on Saturday, Lloyd - a mainstay in Duff’s side this season - was also withdrawn on a stretcher, minutes before full time.
Despite taking an early advantage through Reid’s penalty kick, the Robins didn’t take their superior league position for granted as they were made to work hard for a second.
A second home loss of the season against Grimsby earlier this month had ended an impressive run of five straight wins in all competitions for Cheltenham. Josh Griffiths has now kept four clean sheets in his last five outings as the Robins’ impressive defensive record makes for even better reading.
Liam Sercombe came the closest to extending Cheltenham’s slender lead in the second half as he latched onto a loose ball in the box. After sorting his feet out, Sercombe found an angle to bring out a good save from Scunthorpe goalkeeper Watson.
Watson kept his side in the tie once more when he denied substitute Williams. Outside the box, Williams bent an effort towards the far corner with his weaker left foot, but goalkeeper Watson tipped his effort wide of the post.
Scunthorpe included former Cheltenham loan defender Emmanuel Onariase in their starting side, while Abo Eisa - younger brother of ex-Robins striker Mo - also started for the away side.
Cheltenham will welcome Mansfield Town to the Jonny-Rocks on Saturday (kick-off: 3:00pm) in hope of adding a third home league win to what has become an encouraging start to the new season.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): J Griffiths (Gk) C Raglan, B Tozer, W Boyle, L Sercombe, E Bonds, C Clements, C Hussey, M Blair, G Lloyd, R Reid.
Substitutes: M Harris (Gk), A Addai, T Sang, L Freestone, C Thomas, A Williams, A May.
GRIMSBY TOWN (3-5-2): JR Watson (Gk), J Bedeau, M Onariase, T Cordner, G Hornshaw, M O’Malley, A Gilliead, J Taylor, L Spence, A Jarvis, A Eisa.
Substitutes: A Kelsey (Gk), D Green, A Beestin, J Roww, K Dünnwald-Turan, R Loft, J McAtee.
Referee: Sam Allison
Assistants: Sam Ogles, Adam Ricketts. Fourth Official: Andy Hendley