Cheltenham Town (Away)

May 31, 2023 | 2023 A Season in Review

The Completely-Suzuki Stadium Saturday 15th October 2022

Cheltenham Town 1

Sercombe (pen, 54)

Bristol Rovers 4

Collins (15 & 45+2), Evans (24), Thomas (42)

Referee: Samuel Barrott

Attendance: 5,145

Manager Joe Barton must look forward to the time he can name an unchanged side; it hasn’t happened yet this season, but it looks as though he’s getting closer!

For this game against the Gloucestershire Robins he made just two changes from the side that beat MK Dons in midweek and they saw Antony Evans and Sam Finley return to the starting XI while the men they replaced, Luke McCormick and Josh Coburn dropped to the bench.

Although there have been three cup meetings in recent years these sides hadn’t met in the league since 2013/14 and the last visit to Whaddon Road, now known as the Completely-Suzuki Stadium (what a mouthful that is!) was a goalless affair.

On this occasion, once Rovers got into their stride, you just knew that this game would be full of goals as Barton’s side bossed proceedings from start to finish.

Aaron Collins, who else, opened the scoring in the 15th minute when he capitalised on a horrendous mistake by home goalkeeper Luke Southwood and defender Ryan Jackson. The keeper rushed to the edge of his area to clear a long ball, but Jackson also went for the same ball. The calamity duo both missed it allowing Collins to nip in and roll the ball into an empty net.

Eight minutes later Collins turned provider as his cross, from the left, to the back post saw Antony Evans rushing in to power a header into the Cheltenham net.

Bobby Thomas scored the second goal of his fledgling Rovers career when he rose, unchallenged, to nod in number three following a Paul Coutts corner out on the left.

That was in the 42nd minute and Collins made it four two minutes into first half stoppage time when central defender Caleb Taylor completely missed a long clearance by goalkeeper James Belshaw and, quick as a flash, the in form striker pounced to run on and slot in his eighth league goal of the campaign after rounding the hapless Southwood.

Four first half shots on target and four first half goals. Could it get any better? It was the second time this season that Rovers have scored four in the first half of an away game (Burton Albion was the other) and the 1,430 Gasheads inside the motorbike ground! were hoping to see a goal at their end as all four goals had been scored in front of the home end.

The fifth goal of the afternoon came at the same end, from the penalty spot. Jackson was fouled in the area – some said it was Finley, others said Coutts. Does it really matter, though? The resulting spot kick was emphatically converted by former Rovers midfielder Liam Sercombe.

It wasn’t to be, unfortunately, but Rovers managed the game well without really exerting themselves. They always looked capable of stepping up a gear. Game management is what you call it, I think. Whilst it was an outstanding team performance, two players deserve an honourable mention; Collins, for his opportunism and non stop running and Coutts who put in a perfect skipper’s performance, encouraging and rollicking his team mates in equal measure.

Cheltenham Town: Southwood, Long, Taylor, Freestone, Jackson, Sercombe, Bonds, Williams, Broom, Perry (Norton, 82), N’Lundulu (Olayinka, 82).

Substitutes: Bradbury, Brown, Chapman, MacDonald, Adshead.

Bristol Rovers: Belshaw, Gibbons, Thomas, Gibson (Hoole, 90), Gordon, Coutts, Finley (McCormick, 80), Rossiter (Anderson, 69), Evans, Collins (Clarke, 90), Loft (Coburn, 69).

Substitutes: Jaakkola, Jasper.


Former Rovers players Ryan Broom and Liam Sercombe were in the Cheltenham side while another former Rovers player, Marcus Bignot, is a member of the Cheltenham management team

A yellow card was issued to Lewis Gibson

Paul Coutts was skipper

Five substitutes used

Third successive league win

Eight added minutes

(Photos courtesy of JMP)

Keith Brookman