Kal Naismith missed a penalty in second half stoppage time as Accrington Stanley fell to a second successive league defeat, losing 2-1 at Cheltenham.
The Scot had earlier put Stanley on level terms to cancel out Byron Harrison’s opener but Koby Arthur’s 84th minute goal proved to be the difference at Whaddon Road.
James Beattie made one change from the team which started the Capital One Cup defeat at Leeds with Rob Atkinson coming in for Piero Mingoia. The manager sticking with the 3-5-2 formation that had worked so well in the second half at Elland Road.
The game got off to a tepid start with neither side dominating and it took 10 minutes for any goalmouth action as a free-kick from 20 yards out took a deflection off the wall and flew past the post with Luke Simpson rooted to the spot.
Stanley were trying to get a foothold in the game but could not create any clear-cut opportunities with Dean Winnard, Alabi and Kal Naismith all shooting wide from distance.
Former Red Terry Gornell was a lively presence for the hosts and he almost bagged a goal but Rob Atkinson did superbly to lunge in and block an effort which was destined to find the bottom corner.
At the other end, Alabi showed good skill to spin away from his marker and curl a shot narrowly over the crossbar.
Simpson sprawled down to his left to save from Lee Vaughan after the full-back was teed up for a shot on goal by Gornell. The reprieve was temporary, though, as the hosts hit the front from the resulting corner.
The delivery was perfect for Troy Brown but his header hit the inside of the post. Fortunately, the ball landed kindly for Harrison, who had the simplest of tasks to prod home from a couple of yards out.
It proved to be Harrison’s last contribution to the game as he limped off with an injury to be replaced by Koby Arthur.
The goal sparked Stanley into life and they threatened a leveller shortly before the interval as Josh Windass let fly with a 30 yard effort that Trevor Carson tipped behind before James Gray rifled past the post in the last action of the first half.
Both sides traded chances at the start of the second period with Tom Aldred threatening at the back post from Windass’ corner and Jason Taylor firing over Simpson’s goal. The Stanley stopper was then forced into an excellent save, tipping Arthur’s rasping volley over the bar and catching Troy Brown’s header.
The Robins were piling on the pressure and it almost told but Matt Taylor’s header came back off the crossbar.
In order to try and rescue something from the game, Beattie sent on Piero Mingoia and George Bowerman with the move paying instant dividends: Bowerman burst into the area and gave the ball to Gray; he saw Naismith in space and slipped the ball to the winger, who coolly converted to get Stanley level.
However, parity was short-lived as Carson’s long punt upfield sent Arthur scampering away and he beat Jordan Mustoe for pace before slipping the ball past Simpson to re-take the lead.
Gornell went close with a shot that whistled past the upright but, as the clock ticked through three minutes of injury time, Stanley were awarded a penalty as Mingoia was bundled over by Taylor with referee Kevin Johnson showing no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Naismith, in search of a brace, put the ball down but his deft penalty floated harmlessly over the bar as the Reds left Whaddon Road with nothing to show for their efforts.
Stanley: Simpson; Winnard, Aldred, Atkinson; Buxton (Mingoia 73), Windass, Hunt, Mustoe; Naismith; Alabi (Bowerman 73), Gray.
Subs: Lynch, Goulding, Hatfield, McCartan, Carver.