IF EVER there was a performance that summed up the positives of Russell Slade’s second season in charge of the Mariners then it was this one – a 3-0 win at Cheltenham on a cold Friday night in October.
The hosts saw plenty of the ball on the evening but were overrun by a show of strength, pace, determination and ruthlessness from the Mariners.
Cheltenham got off to the better start, looking to probe their way through a stubborn Mariners’ backline, but it was the visitors who took the lead on the quarter-hour.
A long ball down the right channel from John McDermott was perfect for the run of Paul Bolland and he watched the ball drop before sliding onto it and firing across Shane Higgs and into the far corner of the goal.
The home side continued to press but couldn’t register a worthwhile effort on target before the break, with worse to come for them in the second 45 minutes.
As he had done the previous January, Michael Reddy was causing the home defence all kinds of problems and he nearly doubled his side’s tally on 56 minutes, Higgs pulling off a fine one-handed save after an excellent solo run by the Irishman.
But the former Sunderland ace was not to be denied and added Town’s second with 25 minutes of the game remaining. Another long ball, this time into the left channel, found Reddy one-on-one with Gavin Caines. The frontman powered past his marker, cut inside and fired in a shot from 18 yards that was too hot to handle for Higgs.
And the scoring was complete in injury time when substitute Gary Cohen claimed the third. Town cleared their lines from a corner and Cohen, who had given Caines a five-yard head start, streaked from his own half, beyond the defender and slotted the ball into the bottom corner of Higgs’ goal.
Robins: Higgs; Wilson, Caines, Duff, Armstrong; Melligan, Connolly (Victory 67), Bird, McCann; Spencer, Odejayi. Subs not used: Gill, Guinan, S Brown, A Brown.
Mariners: Mildenhall; McDermott, Francis (Ramsden 87), Whittle, R Jones, Newey; Bolland, Kalala, Parkinson (Cohen 65); Reddy, G Jones (Gritton 80). Subs not used: Crane, Toner.