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MATCH REPORT: Robins 1 - 1 United

Report from the Cheltenham away game

27 April 2021

It was an intriguing evening for all concerned heading into the game with Cheltenham all-but guaranteed League One football next season due to their superior goal difference.

They were still, however, locked in a battle with Cambridge for the League Two title, and they knew that making the most of this game in hand would take them a step closer to that particular piece of silverware.

For the Blues, who sat five points adrift of the play-off places, it was the simple case of needing to win to keep their hopes of extending the season alive.

Manager Chris Beech made two changes from Saturday's home draw, with Rhys Bennett back into the starting line-up in place of Lewis Alessandra, and Magnus Norman was handed his third league start between the sticks at the expense of Paul Farman.

United went with three centre backs in a 3-5-2 formation with Tanner and Armer on either flank providing width.

The much talked about Tozer long throw was in evidence for the home side within 90 seconds when he launched one into the box. Bennett got the first header, and the blue shirts converged to get it away.

A second delivery of the same kind followed from the right flank, but the back line stood strong once again.

Set pieces have been a potent threat for the Robins this season and Hussey whisked one in when Smith was fouled. Anderton made sure he followed the flight to make the clearance.

Striker Josh Kayode earned the Blues a free kick when he angled a run before being chopped to the floor. Guy fed it out to Armer on the left flank, but his low cross was swept away.

Hussey was fortunate to stay on the pitch on 11 minutes when he tangled with Hayden. He kicked out as he rolled away on the floor, but nobody seemed to see the incident and a free kick was awarded to the home team.

That again came to nothing as the defensive unit stayed tight.

Midfielder Joe Riley created a chance from nothing for himself when he blocked a clearance on the edge of the box. It fell nicely, so he let fly with an instinctive shot. That was charged down and the Robins quickly pushed out.

There was bad news for Carlisle on 22 minutes when Rhys Bennett landed heavily after he knocked shoulders with Smith. A short period of treatment followed but the signal came that the central defender was unable to continue.

George Tanner was moved to left wing back, with Devine slotting in on the right, and Jack Armer moved across to take a more central role.

A half of very few chances saw the teams largely cancel each other out, but it was Carlisle who edged in front through number eight of the season for Josh Kayode. He got on the end of a superb Guy delivery with a peach of a 16-yard header that floated into the top corner.

The visitors crafted another opening when Devine refused to allow possession to overturn on the edge of the box. Mellish helped out, and Devine showed again to roll the pass to Guy. He shot as he latched onto it but he couldn't keep it down.

Cheltenham were largely shut out of Carlisle territory, with a late Tozer throw their only contribution for a substantial period of time. That led nowhere as Anderton and Hayden did their jobs.

And Farman had to punch when an overlap from Hussey brought a cross on the run. It was tricky, but the stopper put a strong glove on it.

A long-range effort from home substitute Alfie May sailed over the bar as Cheltenham looked for a way back into it, with an extra zip in the pass suggesting that harsh words had been exchanged during the half time break.

The Blues responded with a passing move down the left which took Tanner past his man. He used Mellish, and his delivery was put behind for a corner. Hayden won the leap for that, but Tozer was on hand to clear.

It was end-to-end for a spell, but neither side was able to make the most of their wide movement. 

The Robins were awarded a free kick just 24-yards out when Smith went down as Anderton won a header, and Hussey found a way over the wall when he pulled the trigger. Norman could do nothing as it crashed down off the bar and bounced over the line to level the scores.

Smith had a volley charged down at one end, and Mellish skewed one wide at the other as the game sat finely balanced with clear-cut chances at a premium.

Kayode and Walker had attempts blocked within seconds of each other as the pair found space, and a follow-up from distance from Walker hit Raglan before skipping into the safety of the keeper's hands.

There was drama at the other end when a May shot hit Guy before curling out to Blair. He set himself, drilled it low, and was disappointed to see Norman drop down to make a smart save.

Carlisle pushed forward, and Mellish twice dropped a shoulder as he worked room to cross. Two corners followed for the visitors, with an Alessandra volley controlled by Anderton as he lost his marker. It eventually came to Walker but he lost his balance as he tried to arrow the ball at the top corner, and it dipped onto the roof of the nets.

Another set piece went the way of the Blues when Norman sent it long for Alessandra. Patrick overlapped, but a timely tackle prevented his touch from counting. 

The Cumbrians thought they'd done it on 84 minutes when the away side recycled possession. Anderton cushioned his first touch when he was found out wide and his excellent cross was there for Kayode to head. It had power from eight-yards out, but it smashed back off the bar and Raglan sent it behind.

United applied the late pressure and a Guy free kick had to be nicked off Hayden's head. The resulting corner was frantically cleared, and the Robins got one of their own when they went on the break. Hearts were in mouths as Raglan got on the end of it only to pop his diving connection wide.

The point left Carlisle six away from the play-off spots with two to go, with Salford having grabbed a last-minute winner at Bradford, and Cheltenham were left to celebrate the point that secured their promotion.



Cheltenham Town - Hussey (56)

Carlisle United - Kayode (33)



Carlisle United - Hayden (72), Mellish (87), Anderton (90)



Cheltenham Town - Griffiths, Long, Hussey, Tozer (c), Raglan, Thomas, Smith (Williams 90), Blair, Azaz (Chapman 88), Lloyd (May 46), Sercombe (Freestone 90). Subs - Flinders (gk), Wright, Vassilev.

Carlisle United - Norman, Tanner (Patrick 74), Bennett (Devine 22), Hayden, Anderton (c), Armer, Riley (Walker 66), Guy, Mellish, Kayode, Zanzala (Alessandra 74). Subs - Farman (gk), Charters, Scott.


Match officials

Referee - Kevin Johnson
Assistant Referee 1 - Christopher Husband
Assistant Referee 2 - Greg Read
Fourth Official - Lee Swabey
Observer - Stephen Tanner


Attendance - BCD

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