Carlisle United spurned the chance to make it six wins from six at home and become the first side to do so in League 2 since Walsall in the 2006/07 season. The Robins won the game thanks to two first-half goals from Will Boyle and a Conor Thomas penalty which was followed by Jon Mellish scoring his 11th goal of the season just before half time but this was not enough for the Cumbrians who were well marshalled by a strong Cheltenham backline.
Unfortunately, technical issues with the iFollow streaming service led to many fans including myself missing the first 10 minutes of the first half but to make matters worse for those of blue persuasion Cheltenham took the lead on the 14th Minute through central defender Will Boyle. The Scottish centre half, formerly of Huddersfield Town, met Ben Tozer’s long throw with a powerful header past goalkeeper Paul Farman to give the Robins an early lead.
Despite Carlisle putting some pressure after the goal, they conceded a penalty around the 34th-minute mark when Jon Mellish, United’s top scorer, seemed to swipe Tozer’s leg from a cross that fell in the box after a short corner from Cheltenham. Tozer did seem to make the most of it with an energetic dolphin dive, referee Andy Haines pointed to the spot as the former Sunderland youngster did seem to catch the Robins centre back. Thomas slotted the penalty with his right foot to the left of the goal while Farman dived to his left.
Many would’ve thought that Cheltenham’s early two-goal lead would spur the Cumbrians into action very little was created until deep into stoppage time of the first half as Mellish struck yet again. A nice one-two from Patrick and Tanner sent the winger into the right side of the box, Patrick managed to flash the ball across where Mellish was making his familiar run into the six-yard box to caress the ball into the bottom left corner with his supposedly weaker left foot. United were given some hope by their emerging talisman, who don’t forget was a central defender for the majority of last season.
The Cumbrians started the second half with more emphasis, Callum Guy swung in a free-kick from the left-hand side of the box but was swiftly cleared away for a corner which came to nothing. Joe Riley, previously of Bradford, had a left-footed shot from about 25 yards saved easily by flinders before Cheltenham started to turn the screw through Alfie May who dropped his shoulder and burst past a couple of defenders on the edge of the box but finessed his shot wide of the right-hand post. Tozer’s long throws were a huge asset for the Robins throughout and yet again Tozer’s rocket launcher of a long throw led to another chance, but Boyle got his volley all wrong at the back post from an Andy Williams flick-on.
Carlisle though must have been quietly hopeful and must have felt they should’ve scored through Gavin Reilly on the 83rd minute when captain Nick Anderton’s miscued shot found the Scotsman at the back post, but Flinders was out quickly to block the shot at point-blank range. Reilly simply cannot buy a goal for the Cumbrians at the minute. Despite a valiant effort from United including Rhys Bennett making his debut from the bench, it was not enough to steal a point from the Gloucestershire side. Final score 2-1 to Cheltenham Town.
This leaves the Cumbrians in sixth place which is still no mean feat for Chris Beech’s side and they must feel they can still be the league’s dark horses for promotion this season, Cheltenham lie in third and seem to have bounced back strongly from last years playoff disappointment. This week marked the 61st anniversary of club Chairman Andrew Jenkins’ involvement at United but the Blues could not pull off a win for arguably the club’s biggest fan. Carlisle go up against Aston Villa’s under 21 side at home in the Papa John’s trophy on Tuesday whereas the Robins face Walsall at home next Saturday.