SOMETIMES it just isn’t meant to be.

When Reice Clarke-Cook superbly saved Danny Wright’s penalty midway through the second half at Cheltenham Town on Saturday, it seemed that would be the catalyst for Swindon Town to complete their comeback and claim a first-ever competitive win at Whaddon Road.

Ten minutes earlier, a looping Matt Preston header had cancelled out Brian Graham’s first-half opener for Cheltenham, so Charles-Cook’s heroics would surely be what saw momentum shift Swindon’s way for good.

However, just as they have done on Swindon’s five previous visits across the Wiltshire-Gloucestershire border, Cheltenham were not quite ready to let their near neighbours travel back down the A417 with the spoils.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

1402 Swindon Town fans made the trip to watch the game

In truth, David Flitcroft’s side only have themselves to blame.

As the contest crept into its closing stages, Town were a tad too heavy handed in their defensive duties and surrendered a succession of free-kicks.

The last of those – four minutes into stoppage time – finally saw them crack as Joe Morrell’s dangerous delivery caused panic in the visiting box.

From there, Harry Pell was able to help it on and the ball bobbled around dangerously in front of Charles-Cook, with Wright reacting fastest to rifle into the net and make up for his earlier mistake.

The strike was virtually the last kick off the match and gave Town no time to respond and left the bumper travelling support of more than 1,400 with the all too familiar feeling of making the short trip home disappointed once again.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

Matt Preston got Town level with his first goal for the club. 

The defeat continues Swindon’s stop-start sequence over the opening months of the season. In the opening dozen League Two games, they have won six times and lost five.

Victory would have pulled them into the play-off places. Instead, they drop two places to 11th but are still only two points off the top seven that would give them a shot a promotion come the end of the season.

Flitcroft made just one change to the Swindon side that claimed a 2-0 victory at home to Cambridge United a week earlier, with Charles-Cook handed a debut in goal as the 23-year-old replaced Lawrence Vigouroux between the sticks in the wake of the Town number one’s four-game suspension handed out in midweek.

Cheltenham were the first to threaten as Graham tried his luck from the edge of the box after four minutes, with the ball deflecting off a defender but just eluding the run of Jerrell Sellars as Charles-Cook gathered gratefully.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

 Reice Charles-Cook was unable to stop the visitors taking the lead. 

Sellars was causing a few headaches for the visiting defence and his late run to the back post was picked out by a good cross from Pell but the header flew over the top.

Town’s first sight of goal came after 11 minutes, although in truth it was not really threatening as a Matt Taylor corner was nodded back across the box by Olly Lancashire, with Luke Norris’ looping header sailing safely over the bar.

A strong challenge by Preston and clearance by Lancashire snuffed out a chance for Mohamed Eisa after Sellars looked to slip him into the box before the hosts did break the deadlock after 20 minutes.

Town had enjoyed a solid few minutes without actually creating much but they were suddenly carved open by a rapid Cheltenham break as Pell sent a cracking ball into the box and Graham ghosted in at the back post to plant a low effort past Charles-Cook.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

Luke Norris compete for the ball during Town's defeat

The Swindon stopper was then relieved to see a looping Sellars effort land on the roof of his net after his shot from the edge of the box took a wicked deflection off James Dunne and almost caught Charles-Cook out.

Strong defending from the hosts denied Town an equaliser just after the half-hour mark as a Taylor corner caused confusion in the box but Lancashire and Amine Linganzi both saw efforts blocked by diving bodies.

Keshi Anderson then sent a tame effort well wide from 25 yards as Town tried to find a way back into the match before the break but they could not prevent Cheltenham from heading back to the changing rooms with a slender advantage.

Flitcroft was clearly unsatisfied with his team’s performance and rang the changes at the break, sending on John Goddard and Donal McDermott in place of Kellan Gordon and Kaiyne Woolery.

The substitutions had the desired effect and Town were level within eight minutes of the restart. Dunne was left flattened by a lunge from Pell, Taylor lofted in the free-kick and Preston climbed highest in a crowded box to loop a header over goalkeeper Scott Flinders and into the net.

And the visitors almost made it a repeat of that goal just after the hour mark when again Preston met a Taylor free-kick but this time Flinders was able to push the ball over the top.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

Cheltenham's Brian Graham gave them an ealry lead

Cheltenham were given a golden opportunity to retake the lead after 65 minutes when Dunne nibbled at Morrell in the box, with the home midfielder going down and referee Robert Jones pointing to the spot.

Wright, who had been on the pitch less than two minutes after coming on to replace Graham, shouldered the responsibility for the hosts but Charles-Cook got down well to his left to push the strike away.

By now, the contest had really opened up and Swindon were next to threaten as Goddard cut in from the left and sent in a curling shot, although it was straight at Flinders.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

Town ran out of time to score an equaliser

Both sides pushed for a winner in the closing stages, with Town looking the most likely to get one as first Taylor saw a low free-kick fly just past the post before Norris wriggled away from Taylor Moore in the box but was denied by Flinders.

And the visitors were then made to pay in the cruellest circumstances possible as they slumped to defeat right at the death.

Wright was able to shake off his earlier disappointment to snatch the win for Cheltenham with virtually the last kick of the match after Morrell’s free-kick caused confusion amongst Swindon’s defensive ranks and left them and the large contingent of away supporters to make the short trip home with nothing to show for their efforts.