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Full Time: Robins U18 0-1 Spurs U18

18 December 2012

Young Robins beaten despite impressive spirit and performance.

Cheltenham Town pushed Premier League Tottenham Hotspur's youth team all the way before slipping out of the FA Youth Cup at the third round stage at the Abbey Business Stadium.

The year ended as it began with Cheltenham taking on the might of Spurs, this time against the first and second year scholars from the youth ranks at White Hart Lane.

Unfortunately from a Cheltenham perspective, this meeting also ended in defeat as once again the north Londoners' pedigree told.

But Russell Milton's team could count themselves unlucky to not be on terms at the break, more than matching their opponents in the first period despite Shaquile Coulthirst's 28th-minute opener.

And they produced a courageous second half performance, occupying the Spurs defence for long passages of play but this promising young side couldn't produce an equaliser to force extra time.

Tottenham will now travel to take on local rivals West Ham United in round four but on this evidence, Cheltenham's future is in very good hands.

The Premier League side was packed with promising international talent but Cheltenham acquitted themselves well in the opening exchanges although Milton was indebted to his goalkeeper, Dale Reaney, for an impressive save to deny Joshua Onomah from close range as early as the eighth minute.

Defender Elliott Keightley then did superbly well to block Roman Michael-Percil's follow-up.

They could have taken a surprise lead with 21 minutes on the clock when Joe Hanks played in Bobbie Dale 18 yards from goal, but the young striker lifted his attempt high and wide of the target.

Cheltenham's disciplined approach had successfully restricted their opponents to just that one chance by the mid-way point, and the Dale's chance appeared to have given his side some confidence in attack.

Spurs though had comfortably enjoyed the lion's share of possession and put together a slick move to hand lively winger Kenneth McEvoy a 27th minute chance to bend one from the edge of the box, but the chance flew wide.

A moment later Coulthirst, the striker who recently recorded a hatrick at Barcelona in the NextGen Series, raced on to Michael-Percil's cross from the right to put his side in front.

However the young Robins responded well to going a goal behind and put together a meaningful passage of play, culminating in a chance for Zack Kotwica from 18 yards.

Cheltenham's winger then drew a smart low save from Luke McGee on the stroke of half-time.

Milton's side started the second half on the front foot and McGee needed to be alert to tip over Kotwica's cross the right 15 minutes after the restart.

A fantastic diagonal ball by Adam Powell presented Kotwica with a decent opening 15 minutes later, but the Spurs goalkeeper held his ground well and blocked the route to goal.

Onomah dragged a shot across the face of Reaney's goal while at the other end, Joe Hanks had a couple of late chances to notch the equaliser but McGee held on to both to preserve his side's flimsy advantage and book their place in round four.

CHELTENHAM TOWN (4-1-4-1): Reaney; Thomas, Hamilton, Gonzalo (C), Keightley; Williams; Donaghue (Williams 64), Hanks, Powell (Marshall 88), Kotwica; Dale. Subs not used: Rivers (Gk), Kirkpatrick-Jones, Morana.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (4-2-3-1): McGee; McQueen, Ball, Oglivie, Ward; Dombaxe, Veljkovic; Michael-Percil, Onomah, McEvoy; Coulthirst. Subs not used: Smith, Priestley (Gk), Lameiras, Miller, Zapata-Caicedo.

REFEREE: Matthew Rushton


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