New AFC Wimbledon manager Neal Ardley admitted he has a tough task ahead of him after watching his side succumb to a narrow defeat in his first game in charge.
Ardley inherited a side short on confidence when he was appointed in midweek and, despite a spirited effort against Cheltenham, goals from Marlon Pack and Kaid Mohamed proved the difference despite a late Byron Harrison effort.
"The job in front of us was laid bare today. We've got a tough next few weeks so it would have been great to get something here," he said.
"Credit to the boys though, we looked like we had a threat and we looked like we could score so I have to look at the positives, but at the same time not ignore the problems."
Cheltenham's tidy passing led to the opening goal after 25 minutes when Pack met a stray header from Will Antwi with a ferocious half-volley outside the area, finding the bottom corner of Seb Brown's goal.
The Dons reacted positively to going behind, and came close when Luke Moore's audacious flick found Jack Midson, whose looping header rebounded off the crossbar.
Despite the Dons' resurgence, Cheltenham doubled their lead after 56 minutes. Former Wimbledon player Mohamed scoring with a close-range header after Billy Jones' cross was flicked on by an unmarked Steve Elliott.
Wimbledon again rallied and pulled one back in injury time as Harrison headed home Jim Fenlon's superb cross.
Three points for Cheltenham means the Robins now occupy third spot in the table. But while manager Mark Yates felt his side deserved the win, he admitted they had been in a battle.
"I thought we started really well for half an hour. Once we scored, they came back a bit and we had to defend a little bit more than we'd like to," he said. "But we thoroughly deserved the win, Scott Brown deserved a clean sheet - he made an outstanding reaction save in the second half from Jack Midson."
- Neal Ardley
- AFC Wimbledon
- Kaid Mohamed