CHELTENHAM TOWN 2
Waters (7 & 40)
BRISTOL ROVERS 1
Referee: Mark Pottage
Rovers Supporters: 317
Three goals and two penalties, both saved, were the order of the day at Whaddon Road this afternoon as two goals by Billy Waters were enough to give Cheltenham victory against Rovers, who had a solitary strike from Tom Lockyer to show for their efforts.
Rovers came up against two of their former players, now plying their trade in the red and white of Cheltenham Town.
Former loanee Aaron Downes skippered The Robins, while midfielder Harry Pell, who played against us for Eastleigh last season, was also in the starting lineup.
An early move down the left for Rovers saw Ellis Harrison cross to the back post with the outside of his right foot where Jake Gosling knocked the ball back across goal. Harrison couldn’t get a touch and Daniel
Parslow headed behind.
However in their first attack Cheltenham took the lead when a long free kick by Kyle Storer found Pell and his deft flick across goal saw Billy Waters net from close range.
Gary Johnson’s side held the lead for just three minutes as set piece expert Chris Lines delivered a perfect ball into the box from a right wing corner and Tom Lockyer powered a header into the net.
A minute later Cristian Montano headed over from ten yards when he met Jake Gosling’s cross from the right.
The home side almost regained the lead on 15 minutes when Waters got down the right and cut inside before hitting a shot across Steve Mildenhall and just wide of the far post.
After a lull in proceedings the home side fashioned another opportunity just after the half hour mark when Mildenhall got the slightest of touches to a downward header from Downes following a Jack Munns corner.
Rovers were next on the attack, Harrison lashing a rasping drive into the arms of a grateful Dillon Phillips after an excellent lay off from Nathan Blissett.
At the other end Danny Wright headed just over from James Rowe’s cross and it was Rowe who set up Cheltenham’s second goal on 40 minutes when his long ball forward saw the impressive Waters gather and run on before firing a shot past Mildenhall.
Rovers made a triple substitution at the start of the second half, which saw Daniel Leadbitter replace Danny Greenslade, Matty Taylor come on for Blissett and Stuart Sinclair on in place of Montano.
An early shot from Taylor was deflected behind for a corner and keeper Phillips did well to hold on to Gosling’s cross as Rovers went in search of an equaliser at the start of the second period.
There was drama in the 55th minute when Mildenhall hauled down Waters in the area and referee Mark Pottage had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Had it been a league game then ‘Mildy’ might well have seen red.
As it was, he dusted himself down and turned from villain to hero as he produced an outstanding save to keep out Waters’ spot kick and deny the striker a hat trick.
From memory, that, that was the first penalty the shot stopper has saved for Rovers.
He was quickly in action again, doing well to block a fierce drive from Wright before Pell headed over when well placed.
There was another block from the same player as Cheltenham took the game to Rovers and then we saw the second penalty of the afternoon arrive with 12 minutes remaining as Lines was felled by Storer in the area.
We also saw the second penalty save of the day as Phillips dived low to his right to keep out Taylor’s spot kick.
Leadbitter went close with a close range header as we approached the final whistle, but Rovers could find no way past a resolute Cheltenham defence or goalkeeper Phillips.
Cheltenham Town: Dillon Phillips, Jack Barthram, George McLennan, Kyle Storer, Aaron Downes, Harry Pell, Billy Waters, Danny Wright, Jack Munns, Daniel Parslow, James Rowe (Asa Hall, 68)
Substitutes: Callum Kitscha, Joe Hanks, y Williams, Bobbie Dale, James Bowen
Bristol Rovers: Steve Mildenhall, Tom Lockyer, James Clarke, Tom Parkes, Danny Greenslade (Daniel Leadbitter, 46), Jake Gosling, Chris Lines, Ollie Clarke (Billy Bodin, 65), Cristian Montano (Stuart Sinclair, 46), Nathan Blissett (Matty Taylor, 46), Ellis Harrison