Result: Cheltenham 3-0 Southport
The first half was sticky and nervy, but after getting an early goal through Aaron Downes after the break, the Robins were rampant as Amari Morgan-Smith added two more to make it an easy win.
There will be better performances – there have already been them this season – but wins and hearing Ken Dodd croon are all that matters.
With Harry Pell reporting fit from his calf knock, Robins boss Gary Johnson was able to name an unchanged side for the third game in a row – although he did make a slight alteration to the team.
The midfield diamond was dispensed with for the first time, with Pell lining up on the right of a midfield four, with Billy Waters on the left and Jack Munns partnering Kyle Storer in the middle.
Despite the change, the Robins started quickly and forced their first decent chance within 70 seconds as Danny Wright was fed by Amari Morgan-Smith in the box, but his shot was blocked.
That led to the first of 10 first half corners for the hosts – and the first was the only one from which they directly threatened as Daniel Parslow got free and headed Munns’ driven delivery over the top.
Downes connected with the next flag kick to head straight at Andy Coughlin in the Sandgrounders’ goal, while Wright also headed over on the stretch from the next corner.
Kyle Storer was the next to line up an effort on goal after neat footwork in midfield afforded him the chance to shoot from distance, but Coughlin was alert to tip his dipping effort wide.
With Pell finding a lot of space down the right flank, the Robins were using the width of the pitch well, but all too often their crossing and final ball left a lot to be desired.
It took striker Wright to supply the first decent delivery from out wide, after he and Morgan-Smith linked from a quick throw, but after Waters teed him up nicely, Munns fired wide on the volley.
After producing precious little in the first half-hour as the Robins bossed territory and possession, the visitors came to life.
One time Robins loanee Louis Almond fired a warning shot across the bows and Charlie Joyce rolled a shot at Dillon Phillips before the best chance of the half came on 34 minutes.
Parslow and Downes got their wires crossed in defence and Almond drove at the box and shot. It appeared to be heading for the far corner before Phillips produced an excellent save low to his left.
The lively Munns created a chance almost on his own – after yet another corner had been dealt with easily – but after picking up the ball wide on the right and jinking into the box his shot was weak.
The Robins were sent out early after the half-time break, no doubt with some piercing words from their boss in their ears – not least to make more of their set-pieces.
And they obliged with their first flag-kick of the second half with Munns picking out Downes with a flat delivery and the Aussie powered home his first for the club.
A clear sense of relief washed around the ground and finally the Robins began to show some confidence.
Morgan-Smith broke into the right channel, beat a defender for muscle but then fired wide, across the goal, with both Waters and Munns screaming for a square ball to make it two.
A neat move involving Pell and the ever-willing Barthram teed Waters up for an effort on the edge of the box, but his cross-shot neither threatened the goal or to reach Morgan-Smith at the far post.
Morgan-Smith then met corner number 12 with a flashing header as the Robins continued to apply pressure looking for the all-important killer second goal.
The visitors showed just how important that would be when JamieAllen broke into the box from a quick-free kick and his cross was inches away from Mike Phenix’s boot for a tap-in.
Waters flashed a shot wide, Munns was off target with two efforts from distance and Pell drove a cross across Wright’s bows from close range as still the Robins pressed.
But just as the nerves were beginning to build, Munns threaded the ball through to Morgan-Smith who drove at the six-yard box on the left, before chipping home delightfully from an angle.
The outstanding Munns weaved his way into the box before creating corner number 13, from which Morgan-Smith nodded home from close-range after Downes headed back Munns’ delivery.
Substitute Connor McCarthy fired a late effort for Southport and Asa Hall did similar at the other end, but the game was over as a contest and Ken’s croon was being teed up on the PA system.
Report courtesy of http://www.gloucestershireecho.co.uk
01 Phillips, 02 Barthram, 05 Downes, 04 Storer, 03 McLennan (Bowen – 81′ ), 06 Parslow, 07 Pell ,09 Wright (Cooke – 83′ ), 10 Morgan-Smith, 11 Munns, 08 Waters (Hall – 66′ )
12 Kitscha, 14 Hall, 16 Hanks, 23 Bowen, 27 Cooke
01 Coughlin, 02 Challoner, 06 Foster, 04 Nolan , 05 Thompson, 03 Beesley, 23 Cameron (Allen – 57′ ), 14 Joyce, 22 Phenix (McCarthy – 66′ ), 11 Jones , 17 Almond
07 Allen, 12 Blakeman, 15 McCarthy, 16 Rutherford, 19 Viscosi
Ref: Robert WhittonAtt: 2,251
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