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23 January 2021 Venue Jonny-Rocks Stadium Attendance

Kick off 17:30 (UK)

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Match Previews

Preview: Manchester City

23 January 2021

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It's all set for another memorable night in the long history of Cheltenham Town when Premier League giants Manchester City visit the Jonny-Rocks Stadium in the FA Cup fourth round (kick-off: 5.30pm).

Just 12 days after former England striker Peter Crouch pulled the club out of the hat, swiftly followed by the big hitters from the Etihad Stadium, the Robins will line up for one of the most glamorous fixtures in 134 years as a football club.

A victory would surely mark one of the greatest upsets in the history of the world famous competition.

The task though that lies ahead for Michael Duff's men is a significant one with City boasting a sensationally talented squad and a manager ranked amongst the best in the world.

Whatever happens it's sure to be quite the night as Cheltenham go toe-to-toe with one of the best teams on the planet in our own back-yard.

Team news

Liam Sercombe and Chris Hussey miss out because of injuries, while Scott Flinders could be involved as he continues his steady return from a small niggle.

Tom Chamberlain is cup-tied so can't play but the rest of the squad are otherwise fit.

Michael Duff sat down to speak to the press on Thursday about the prospect of taking on one of world football's leading sides.

Opposition

Going into the tie Man City have recorded nine straight wins in all competitions. They are one of the most in form sides in Europe right now and in that run have beaten rivals Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and most recently Aston Villa on Wednesday night.

Their squad list is littered with internationals, players who have been at the top of their game for over a decade, and others who look set to be the next biggest names for many years to come.

Their squad depth means in goal on Saturday they could opt for usual number one and Brazil international Ederson, while USA international Zack Steffen or former England international Scott Carson could don the gloves.

In defence, England's John Stones has been in excellent form of late, while the likes of World Cup winner Benjamin Mendy, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Portugal international João Cancelo may feature. Spaniard Eric Garcia is a 20-year-old who could be handed a starting place.

Their midfield line-up includes İlkay Gündoğan, Brazil international and captain Fernandinho and Bernardo Silva. As well as the big names they can boast in the middle of the pitch, the game may also represent an opportunity for academy product Tommy Doyle or German youngster Felix Nmecha to feature at first team level.

At the top of the pitch young English talents Raheem Sterling and Phil Foden are two of the leading lights in the England national side, while Riyad Mahrez is a two-time Premier League winner.

Brazil international Gabriel Jesus and Spain's Ferran Torres, who scored a hat-trick against Germany in November 2020, are a couple of other standout names in their forward line. 17-year-old Liam Delap, son of former Stoke City man Rory, is a young member of their squad who could be handed minutes too.

The manager: Pep Guardiola

A two time Champions League winner as a manager who has also won the La Liga three times as manager of Barcelona, Bundesliga three times as manager of Bayern Munich and twice the Premier League in charge of Man City, Pep Guardiola is one of the best managers in world football.

The 50-year-old has followed up a playing career that saw him play as a holding midfielder over 380 times for Barcelona and also 47 times for Spain with a managerial career that has seen him win trophy after trophy.

The Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, FA Cup and Copa del Rey are just among the many cup competitions he has enjoyed silverware in and later this season he already has one cup final date booked when his side will take on Jose Mourinho's Tottenham Hotspur in the Carabao Cup final.

Match programme

The club have teamed up with legendary photographer and big Man City fan, Kevin Cummins, to produce a special edition of our match programme.

Half of the profits will be being donated to FareShare, the UK's leading charity fighting hunger and food waste.

Cummins has provided a fantastic front cover image of the Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel, from the huge British band Oasis.

Inside the programme there are loads of great features to read. Alfie May is the big interview, Matty Blair looks ahead to the game, and goalkeeper coach Steve Book discusses his uncle, Tony, who played for City and managed them three times.

There are also history features looking back at Cheltenham's two previous fourth round appearances in the FA Cup, club connections with the opposition, a revisit to how the FA Cup journey has gone for the Robins this season and much more.

To purchase your copy you can buy online through the club's online shop.

Digital tickets

Everyone at Cheltenham is hugely disappointed that the stands at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium will be empty for one of the most exciting nights in the history of the club. It's the dream draw at the worst possible time.

To show your support though the club have been selling digital match tickets in the build up to the fixture. Priced at £10 by purchasing one you will receive a free digital match programme, an official teamsheet before kick-off and a souvenir ticket.

To get your digital match ticket make sure you buy online ahead of the game.

Enjoy the match at home

The club are asking all supporters to enjoy watching Saturday's fixture from the comfort of their own homes.

There will be an increased police presence around the stadium and fans will be unable to be present in the area and will be reminded of the current state of the national lockdown in force across the country.

The road outside the stadium will be closed from 3pm to 4pm and then again after the match.

Please do not attend the stadium, and although the club wish the game was taking place in front of a full house, we request that you enjoy the match from home.

Coverage

Enjoy watching the match in full on BBC One. The coverage, hosted by Gary Lineker alongside Alan Shearer and Micah Richards, begins at 5.20pm.

Follow @CTFCofficial on Twitter for updates throughout the night, behind the scenes videos, images and more. You can also check out the club's Facebook page and Instagram account for content.

Post-match visit the club website to read a match report and to also watch Michael Duff's post-match press conference.

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Match Reports

Report & highlights: Robins 1-3 Manchester City

23 January 2021

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Manchester City’s Premier League quality eventually told as Cheltenham Town’s FA Cup adventure was ended at the fourth round after falling to a 3-1 defeat at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.

Cheltenham were looking to reach the FA Cup fifth round for just the second time in the club’s history, previously doing so almost a decade ago, in the 2001/2002 season.

In the club’s first ever competitive meeting with Man City, Alfie May opened the scoring in the second half before late goals from Phil Foden, Gabriel Jesus and Ferran Torres completed a City comeback.

Pep Guardiola’s side travelled to the Jonny-Rocks Stadium 16 games unbeaten in all competitions, having advanced through to the Champions League Round of 16 and winning eight Premier League games during that time.

Though Michael Duff’s Robins were in no mood to simply roll over against their vastly superior opposition.

Cheltenham started the game with attacking intent, by carving out an opening 90 seconds after kicking-off. Matty Blair, who was plying his trade in the Conference North a little over ten years ago, beat Eric Garcia in a footrace before sweeping across a menacing delivery in front of Zack Steffen’s goalmouth.

May nearly made enough of a connection with the ball to steer the ball goalwards, but after taking a knock for his troubles, City were able to alleviate Cheltenham’s early pressure.

Brazilian number nine, Jesus gave the hosts an even earlier scare inside the first minute of proceedings, but it was Benjamin Mendy who came the closest to opening the scoring at the Jonny-Rocks in the first-half.

Having retrieved a loose cross from the right flank, Mendy struck a volley back across goal which was sailing towards Josh Griffiths’ top corner if it wasn't for Ben Tozer’s miraculous intervention to clear the ball off the goal line with his head.

City’s growing dominance in the game continued to test the League Two outfit’s resilience, but goalkeeper Griffiths would make a crucial save to deny Torres on the 18th minute. The Spaniard latched onto Foden’s cross and looked destined to score, but Griffiths showed tremendous agility to get down to his left and deny him.

Foden himself has been involved in eight goals in his last eight FA Cup appearances, averaging a goal or assist every 64 minutes in the competition, but hosts Cheltenham held on to a half-time stalemate as a fireworks display lit up the Gloucestershire night sky.

Despite the lack of Cheltenham fans in the stadium, a party atmosphere has been brewing in these parts for several weeks since former England striker Peter Crouch pulled the club out of the hat, swiftly followed by the big hitters from the Etihad Stadium.

The Robins would play out one of the most glamorous fixtures in the club’s 134 years of history, with the odds firmly stacked against the hosts producing a memorable FA Cup upset.

Since losing against Wigan 0-1 in February 2018, Man City have won their last seven FA Cup games against sides from a lower division by an aggregate score of 26-4. While the Robins have lost all eight of their League Cup and FA Cup meetings with Premier League opponents.

Seven minutes into the second half and Cheltenham were reminded of the threat posed by their Premier League counterparts. Jesus evaded Cheltenham’s offside trap for the first time on the night, but squandered the opportunity to make full use of Foden’s slide-rule pass, by striking the post with his misplaced finish.

So often in FA Cup ties, it would be the minnows who’d pay for such missed opportunities, but on nights like these, Cheltenham were determined to make full use of the underdogs tag.

Duff’s side initiated a brave press to force Harwood-Bellis in turning the ball away for a throw-in inside his own half. Here was an opportunity to produce another chapter in Cheltenham Town's proud history.

Ben Tozer’s long throw-ins have regularly been exhibited in League Two this season, but keen to put his trademark into the FA Cup history books, he prepared to hurl the ball from his familiar launch pad.

Despite the several divisions that separate the two sides, on the night, there was little Man City could do to prevent Tozer’s dangerous delivery towards the six-yard box. Testament to the desire installed amongst the Cheltenham side, May made sure he was first to pounce on a loose ball to fire the Robins into an extraordinary lead.

Cheltenham's celebrations will live long in the memory but, for all the hard-yards put in by Duff’s side, City’s top flight quality would eventually show.

Foden’s goal in the 81st minute was shortly followed up by late goals from Jesus and Torres to complete the comeback.

Cheltenham will now turn their attention to League Two duty, as Oldham Athletic make the journey to the Jonny-Rocks Stadium on Tuesday evening (kick off 17:30).

CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): J Griffiths (GK); C Raglan, B Tozer, W Boyle; M Blair, L Freestone, F Azaz (A Williams '81), C Thomas, C Clements (A Addai '89); A May, G Lloyd (S Long '68). Subs not used: S Flinders (Gk), M Harris (Gk), D Bowry, C Ebanks.

MANCHESTER CITY (4-3-3): Z Steffen (Gk); T Harwood-Bellis (R Dias '68), E García, A Laporte, B Mendy (J Cancelo '77); F Torres, Fernandinho, T Doyle (I Gundogan '68); R Mahrez, G Jesus, P Foden. Subs not used: Ederson (Gk), O Zinchenko, A Bernabé, Rodrigo, B Silva, R Sterling.

REFEREE: Stuart Attwell. Assistants: Constantine Hatzidakis, Ian Hussin. Fourth Official: Andrew Madley.

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