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In Focus: Cheltenham v. Hereford

30 November 2012

Columnist Murry Toms takes a detailed look into our past battles with Hereford.

Cheltenham Town will once again lock horns with ancient rivals Hereford United on Monday, this time under the lights and in front of the ESPN cameras at the Abbey Business Stadium.

The prize, ball number 56 in Sunday's FA Cup third round draw at Wembley Stadium, which will be conducted by former Tottenham captain Ledley King and ex-Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba.

History though is not on the Robins' side.

You have to go back 13 years and eight games for the last time the they tasted victory in this fixture, Mark Freeman and Jamie Victory providing the goals in 1999's Conference encounter at Edgar Street.

And staggeringly, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Rolf Harris all topped the charts in the the year of Cheltenham's most recent home victory over the Bulls.

Gerald Horlick and Adrian Thorne grabbed the goals on that occasion, winning 2-1 in the Southern League Cup quarter-final back in January 1969, 43 years ago.

That's two generations of supporters waiting to witness a home win over the old enemy!

The two sides were familiar foes in the non-league days, but Cheltenham simply couldn't produce a win, drawing four and losing four in eight contests in football's elite.

In fact they haven't lead in this one since Elvis Hammond's 59th minute strike in 2009, six games ago, and that lasted only for 17 minutes.

Perhaps then a meeting in the cup is timely.

Of course Hereford slipped back into the Blue Square Bet Premier last term, but they currently sit on the fringes of the play-off zone going into Monday's much-anticipated visit.

They've made an indifferent start to life in the fifth tier, performing well enough at home but not so impressively on the road despite last weekend's FA Trophy success at Ebbsfleet United (1-0)

Striker Ryan Bowman could be the player to watch, heading the goalscoring charts with six followed closely by former Cheltenham loanee Marlon Jackson (four) and Sean Canham (three).

Hereford boss Martin Foyle could well bring along some old friends to the party, including ex-Robins Andy Gallinagh, Michael Townsend, Marley Watkins and Brian Smikle - all set to return to the place they recently called home.

And their new employers will be backed, as ever, by a sizeable and vociferous travelling contingent.

So it all points to a terrific occasion, crackling with atmosphere on Monday night. Have you got your ticket?

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