AN ILL-timed challenge in the penalty area with just minutes remaining denied Swindon Town U18s any points against Cheltenham at Stanley Park on Saturday morning, as David Farrell’s youngsters slipped to a surprise 2-1 defeat.

Cheltenham took the lead shortly before the sounding of the half-time whistle before Massimo Giamattei’s effort mid-way through the second half appeared to put the hosts on the front foot.

But Toby Holland’s missed penalty spurred Cheltenham onto picking up their first Youth Alliance win of the season, as they netted in injury time from the spot to reduce Town’s youngsters to their fourth defeat of the season.

The result leaves Town on 11 points from nine games in the first part of their Youth Alliance campaign - with 11 more fixtures remaining until the division splits into Merit Leagues I and II. 

Manager Farrell stated after the game that his youngsters got what they deserved, and criticised his side’s overall levels of quality when in possession.

“They (Cheltenham) took the lead, and just sat in – which is what we worked on during the week,” said Farrell.

“The boys didn’t put their plan into action. We didn’t move the ball no way near quick enough, and it’s hard to break a team down when they sit in like that.

“We didn’t have enough quality to break them down. We had a couple of chances here and there.”

Second-year scholar Sonny Haynes and Salisbury-based first year Anthony Lynn appeared to inject life into Town’s performance levels when coming on as substitutes in the second half.

But a resolute and dogged Cheltenham defence only conceded once – much to the frustration of Town’s U18s boss.

Farrell added: “Toby (Holland’s) penalty was very poor – a daisy cutter. He just needed to smash the ball into the corner, though Cheltenham’s ‘keeper was good to be fair.

“A cheap penalty at the end cost us, we didn’t deserve anything.”

Swindon return to action next weekend when travelling to face in-form Exeter City.