An impressive performance from Crewe Alexandra stopped Town in their tracks at The Alexandra Stadium, with the bright spots for the Robins seeing a return for Aden Flint and a determined display from substitute Lee Holmes.
Young striker Nick Powell opened the scoring in the first half in an eye catching performance, with Ashley Westwood netting the second on a day which saw the Robins unable to find the net. Town manager Paolo Di Canio made changes to the line-up with Aden Flint, Callum Kennedy and Jonathan Tehoue all starting in place of Jonathan Smith, Alessandro Cibocchi and Billy Bodin. Bodin travelled with the squad to The Alexandra Stadium but along with Jonathan Smith and Phil Smith, he was not in the matchday sixteen.
It was the home side who carved out the first opening with just two minutes on the clock. A neat passing move saw Byron Moore find space on the edge of the box but his left footed effort drifted wide without testing Wes Foderingham. After a tepid opening 20 minutes, it was the home side who had another great chance to break the deadlock. An incisive ball through from Moore found A-Jay Leitch-Smith and having broken free inside the box, he could only fire wide.
It was the home side who took the lead on 29 minutes after more good football. A cross from the right from Leitch-Smith found his strike partner Nick Powell who volleyed the ball in off the crossbar from 12 yards out. Foderingham claimed the rebound but the referee gave the goal and Powell - named League 2 Apprentice of the Year six days ago - wheeled away to celebrate. Powell came close to grabbing his second seven minutes before the break. After Alan McCormack had been cautioned following a foul on the edge of the box, the ball broke to the Crewe striker on the edge of the box but he just failed to make a connection at the back post.
The frontman continued to impress and drew a smart stop from Foderingham two minutes before the break from 20 yards with the home side on the front foot. Having gone in a goal down at the break, Di Canio replaced Luke Rooney for the second half with Lee Holmes coming off the bench for the first game of his second loan spell with the Robins. The winger wasted little time in getting involved, cutting inside from the wing before firing a powerful left footed drive just over on 48 minutes.
Town had another opportunity on the hour. A deep cross from Holmes was nodded back across goal by Ritchie and fell at the feet of Tehoue who saw his powerful low drive from 14 yards blocked. Despite a bright opening to the second period from the visitors, Town found themselves two goals down just after the hour. A deep cross from the left found Ashley Westwood and he brought the ball down before firing low into the corner past Foderingham.
Di Canio responded by throwing on Ronan Murray in place of Kennedy as the home crowd continued to celebrate the second goal of the game. Substitute Murray was through on goal on 69 minutes but after beating the offside trap, he saw his lob gathered by former Bristol City stopper Steve Phillips. The chances continued to fall Town's way with a curling effort from Ferry hitting the bar before Benson then hit the woodwork with a deft header 60 seconds later.
Tehoue had another opportunity with six minutes remaining but the Frenchman was denied from close range by more resolute defending from the home side.
After four minutes of second half added time match referee Mr D Deadman brought an end to a disappointing afternoon for the visitors who now host Torquay United at The County Ground on Tuesday night in a key promotion clash.