Chesterfield 4 Cheltenham Town 1
OFF-colour Cheltenham Town suffered back-to-back League Two defeats for the first time this season as their wretched record against Chesterfield continued this evening.
Trailing 2-0 at half-time, Kaid Mohamed’s header early in the second half briefly gave Mark Yates’ side hope, but within two minutes they were 3-1 down and it was game over long before Jack Lester’s late fourth.
It gave Spireites boss Paul Cook his second convincing victory over Cheltenham this season having presided over Accrington’s 3-0 win at Whaddon Road in September before switching clubs.
Perhaps low on confidence after their 4-2 defeat at Rotherham United on Saturday, Cheltenham made a particularly sluggish start.
They sat far too deep and invited pressure from the home side, who were able to supply wide men Brennan Dickenson and Tendayi Darikwa in some dangerous areas almost at will.
It was almost like crossing practise for the Spireites and an opening goal for Cook’s men seemed inevitable, with Cheltenham pinned back inside their own half.
Every time they did manage to win the ball, they could only hoof it long with hopeful balls and it came straight back at them.
Yates had made one change to the side beaten at the New York Stadium, with Jeff Goulding the surprise inclusion at the expense of Jermaine McGlashan.
That mean Chris Zebroski started on the left, with Mohamed moving to the right and Goulding playing as the lone front man.
Goulding was isolated and the opening half an hour was one-way traffic towards Scott Brown’s goal.
Dickenson kept Keith Lowe extremely busy and the right-back coped with him well apart from one run in the ninth minute which saw the wide man cut inside then fire over the bar from just outside the six yard box.
But it was no surprise when Chris Atkinson opened the scoring for Chesterfield in the 16th minute.
A cross from Darikwa was half cleared to him and he had all the time and space he needed to place a firm drive past Brown, who had no chance.
Cheltenham showed an improvement as the half wore on and a free-kick from Billy Jones was almost headed into his own net by Drew Talbot, but it was hacked off the line.
Brown was forced into a smart save by Dickenson, low to his right, in the 40th minute, but Chesterfield scored the killer second in the final minute of the half as Cheltenham were once again the architects of their own downfall.
Zebroski’s attempted pass to Marlon Pack was cut out by Marc Richards, who Cheltenham tried to sign for £100,000 in the summer of 2008.
Richards, a summer arrival from Port Vale, ran at the Cheltenham defence and fed Darikwa, whose shot cannoned against the bar with Brown at full stretch.
It fell to Sam Togwell, another one-time target for the Robins, and the midfielder powered a diving header into the net despite a desperate attempt from Brown to recover.
Something had to change and Yates responded by replacing Darren Carter with McGlashan and switching from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2 for the start of the second half.
Alan Bennett reached a free-kick from Jones in the 50th minute, but his header was straight at Tommy Lee, who gathered cleanly.
But Lee could do nothing about Mohamed’s powerful header from a corner in the 57th minute as left-back Jones claimed yet another assist.
It was Mohamed’s fifth goal of the campaign and Cheltenham’s first against the Spireites for 707 minutes, but their celebrations were short-lived.
Less than two minutes later, Chesterfield had restored their two-goal advantage and it was Richards who showed Cheltenham what they missed out on with a thumping shot after a long ball over the top opened up the Robins defence.
Lowe went closest to pulling one back for Cheltenham with a hooked shot that flashed over the bar, but he could not continue his rich vein of scoring form.
Cook sent on former Arsenal and Fulham star Luis Boa Morte and proven lower league hitman Lester and the changes had an immediate impact.
Lester scored with his first touch, stooping to force a flick-on over the line after a corner from Boa Morte on the right in the 75th minute.
A back four that had gone so long without conceding before Saturday has now leaked eight in two matches, giving Yates plenty of food for thought ahead of this weekend’s home match against improving Barnet.
CHESTERFIELD: T Lee; D Talbot, S Hird, L Cooper, N Smith; T Darikwa, C Atkinson, D Whitaker (C Clay 63), S Togwell, B Dickenson (L Boa Morte 70); M Richards (J Lester 74). Subs not used: R O’Donnell, J O’Shea, C Townsend, T Forbes.
CHELTENHAM TOWN: S Brown; K Lowe, A Bennett, S Elliott, B Jones; C Zebroski (D Duffy79) , M Pack, R Penn, D Carter (J McGlashan 46), K Mohamed; J Goulding (S Harrad 67). Subs not used: C Roberts, S Deering, D Andrew, J Hanks.
REFEREE: G Salisbury.
ATTENDANCE: 4,333 (128 away).
STAR MAN: Billy Jones.
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