Ahead of kick-off a Cheltenham fan, free of irony or intoxication, told me the area around the Keepmoat reminded him of California. I didn’t even know they had Beafeater Inns in LA.
Whatever the misconceived expansive glamour of its environs, the game itself felt constricted; a nervousness permeating the stands. But such frustrations were surely borne from home form gone, rather than present evidence; out on the field – though misplaced passed brought a fearful groans – the final result was never really in doubt.
Alfie May had already back-heeled a smart save out of Scott Brown, when Rovers went ahead. Town caught napping by James Coppinger’s quick free-kick and Matty Blair’s low cross was turned in by Andy Butler. The lead could and should’ve been extended before the break; May seeing two efforts beaten away, Coppinger failing to beat a man on the line.
Town’s hopes of finding a route in to the game ended with a petulant kick-out at May, and Will Boyle’s subsequent tunnel-wards trudge. There would be only the one further goal, but could’ve easily been more had Brown not brilliantly denied John Marquis, Tommy Rowe, and substitute Andy Williams.
The second goal, when it did arrive, was in effect a showcase for the talents of Rovers’ starting front two. The industrious May won the ball on halfway before setting off with defenders in his wake, and when the ball ran to Marquis, he finished with the efficiency of a man hitting his 21st goal of the season.
by Glen Wilson