Manchester were always ahead, scoring three without reply in the first period and moving to 6-3 in the second. But dogged Cheltenham simply refused to wilt, gradually clawing their way back into contention and, at the very end, coming close to salvaging a point.
Cheltenham's spirit showed itself with Manchester 6-4 ahead at the start of the third as goalkeeper Sam Legge saved a Manchester penalty and then Will Middleton scored - 6-5. Perhaps the turning point of the match came shortly afterwards. Manchester's Joe O'Regan took advantage of new rules to score direct from a corner; then a Mikey Patterson goal made it 8-5 to Manchester.
It went to 9-6 before Cheltenham rallied again, scoring twice in the last minute to make it a nervy end for the champions.
In another Division 1 match, Sheffield beat Polytechnic 7-4, with Chris Armstrong and Tim Grieve both scoring twice.