Cheltenham Town 2-1 Ipswich Town - Match Report
Tuesday, 17th Aug 2021 21:55
Cheltenham came from a goal behind at half-time to beat Town 2-1 at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium, their first ever victory over the Blues. Matt Penney’s brilliant first goal for the club gave Town the lead on nine and Macauley Bonne had a golden chance to make it should 2-0 during a dominant spell following the goal. However, Cheltenham were the better side in the second half and goals from Callum Wright and Will Boyle sealed a first League One win of the season for the Robins.
Vaclav Hladky was in goal with Janoi Donacien keeping his place but moving to right-back with Kane Vincent-Young dropping to the bench, one of three players who started on Saturday dropping to sub along with Louie Barry and Armando Dobra.
Penney was at left-back with Luke Woolfenden alongside one-time Robins loanee Cameron Burgess, making his Blues debut, at the heart of backline.
Skipper Lee Evans was again alongside Rekeem Harper in central midfield with Scott Fraser on the left, full debutant Kyle Edwards on the right and Macauley Bonne, making his first league start for the Blues, joining Joe Pigott up front.
Yesterday’s 16th new signing of the summer, Tom Carroll and, for the first time since joining the club on loan from Middlesbrough, Hayden Coulson were among the subs.
Cheltenham made three changes from the team which lost 3-1 at home to Wycombe on Saturday with club captain and long-throw expert Ben Tozer, Conor Thomas and Kyle Vassell, making his first start for the club, coming in for Matty Blair, Ellis Chapman and Alfie May, who dropped to the bench.
Prior to the game getting under way both teams and staff took a knee to applause from both sets of fans.
The home side should have gone in front in only the second minute. Hladky gave away a cheap throw on the right after a miscommunication with Woolfenden.
Tozer hurled into the area, the keeper failed to claim and Wright volleyed over at the far post with the ball having arrived quickly and at an awkward height. Nevertheless, it was a lucky escape for the Blues.
Town went ahead with their first serious attack of the game in the ninth minute. Edwards brought the ball forward and across the edge of the area from the left before feeding Fraser to his right.
The former MK Dons man worked himself space at a tight angle and hit a shot which was blocked by Sean Long in front of the line. The ball found its way out to Penney on the left from where the left-back slammed a superb powerful strike which keeper Owen Evans was only able to palm into the roof of the net.
Not only was it Penney’s first goal for the Blues, but his first in English football, having only previously netted in senior football for German side St Pauli, with whom he spent time on loan.
It should have been 2-0 in the 12th minute. Bonne lifted a ball which had been played down the middle and flicked on by Pigott over keeper Evans and it looked a formality that he would add the final touch with his head from just in front of the line. However, the on-loan QPR man misjudged the bounce, missed his header then scuffed the ball off the outside of the post and wide.
But despite the miss, which will get plenty of repeat viewings, Town kept up the pressure. Harper hit a deflected shot wide from the edge of the box, then on 14 Edwards scraped an effort past keeper Evans’s right post from 20 yards. Four minutes later, Blues skipper Evans curled a free-kick wide.
The Robins just about weathered Town’s post-goal pressure and won a couple of throws on the left which Tozer flung into the box, Burgess heading away the first and Hladky claiming the second with more confidence, although requiring treatment for a blow to the ear in the aftermath.
On 28 Town captain Evans was yellow-carded for a foul on Vassell as the home side countered after a Blues attack had broken down. A minute later, Wright joined him in the book for a foul on Edwards as the former West Brom man burst away on the halfway line.
The game had become a more even affair but on 35 Pigott curled a shot well wide from distance.
Cheltenham probably should have levelled in the 39th minute when the ball flicked off Charlie Raglan’s head and well wide from eight yards when he really should at least have hit the target from Liam Sercombe’s right-wing cross following a short corner.
Vassell headed wide at the far post from a left-sided Chris Hussey ball into the box in the final scheduled minute of the half, Penney and Burgess, who had had a dominant first half for the Blues at the back, having made it difficult for the former Rotherham man to get in a clean effort. The Town goalscorer required treatment following the incident but was OK to carry on.
Cheltenham were finishing the half the stronger of the two sides, but in the fourth minute of injury time Edwards made another blistering run forward before feeding Pigott to his left, However, the AFC Wimbledon man shot into the side-netting.
That was the last action of a half which really should have ended with the scoreline 2-0 to Town, like the midway point in all four of the previous games between the sides.
The Blues could well have put the game to bed in the spell after Penney’s brilliant goal, not least via Bonne’s missed opportunity. Edwards, pacy, tricky and deft of touch, had been unplayable in that period of the game.
However, Cheltenham will feel they should have scored before that through Wright and had another very good opportunity through Raglan and had ended the half on top.
Three minutes after the restart, Evans flicked a header wide from a Fraser cross from the right.
Town dominated the early stages of the half, stroking it around confidently, albeit without creating another opportunity.
On 56, a Robins free-kick routine from the right taken by Hussey flashed across the face of goal but without anyone there to add a final touch.
Cheltenham got back on top as the game reached the hour mark and on 62 they levelled. Burgess headed away a Tozer long throw from the right, rising highest among a tightly-bunched pack of players, but the ball was subsequently sent back into the box from the left by Boyle and Wright headed into the roof of the net.
Thomas was booked for pulling back Edwards as he broke forward on halfway, then on 66 the home side swapped Vassell and Andy Williams for Alfie May and George Lloyd.
Cheltenham continued to look the better side and the most likely scorer of the game’s third goal. On 72 Wright hit a well-struck shot which Hladky dived away to his right to save.
Three minutes later, Edwards, who had been quieter since the break, brilliantly turned away from his man and burst into the area before hitting a shot which deflected behind.
Town, who aside from Edwards’s chance hadn’t threatened since the early stages of the half, switched Pigott for Kayden Jackson in the 75th minute.
Two minutes later, Burgess, who had enjoyed a very assured debut at the heart of the defence, made a vital interception as Lloyd broke away towards goal. On 80 Cheltenham manager Michael Duff was booked for taking his complaints regarding a foul too far.
But the Robins boss will have forgotten all about that moments later when his side took the lead.
Town failed to deal with yet another long Tozer throw from the left, the ball ran loose and Boyle slammed it into the corner of the net.
Cheltenham, visibly growing in confidence, kept up the pressure with Tozer’s long throws remaining their main weapon. On 85, following one from the left which had been cleared, sub Ellis Chapman crossed from the left and Hladky tipped Boyle’s header over the bar.
Barry replaced Bonne in the 86th minute as the Blues desperately looked for an equaliser, something which wasn’t looking particularly likely. Carroll was introduced for his debut three minutes later but was unable to influence the game before referee Peter Wright brought the afternoon to a close to cheers from the home fans.
As on Saturday, Town really should have had the match won having been so dominant for a spell in the first half.
However, despite the Blues starting the second half strongly, Cheltenham were on top for the most part after the break with Tozer’s long throws always a threat and on the balance of the second 45 minutes they deserved to take the points.
Town once again showed signs of the team they want to be, with Burgess impressive at centre-half on his debut and Edwards putting in a very exciting display in the first half if much quieter in the second, but again mistakes, on this occasion at both ends, let them down.
Following back-to-back defeats in their first two away games, the Blues now face the MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon in successive games at Portman Road.
Cheltenham: Evans, Long, Hussey, Tozer (c), Raglan, Thomas, Sercombe, Vassell (May 66), Williams (Lloyd 66), Boyle, Wright (Chapman 85). Unused: Freestone, Blair, Perry, Flinders.
Town: Hladky, Donacien, Woolfenden, Burgess, Penney, Harper, Evans (c), Fraser, Bonne, Edwards, Pigott (Jackson 77). Unused: Holy, Vincent-Young, Coulson, Carroll, Dobra, Barry. Referee: Peter Wright (Merseyside). Att: 4,746 (Town: 995).
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