FT: Robins 4, Crawley Town 3 (AET)
Cheltenham Town twice came from behind to secure a dramatic late win over Crawley Town in an absorbing Capital One Cup first round tie at the Abbey Business Stadium.
Byron Harrison was the hero, cutting inside from the left to plant a 20-yard curled effort beyond goalkeeper Paul Jones deep into extra time.
The striker had already scored one inside 90 minutes, taking his tally for four days to three, before popping up six minutes from penalties to settle this one.
The winner handed manager Mark Yates his first win in this competition by the odd goal in seven despite trailing at one point of this game by two.
It is the first time in five years the club have successfully negotiated the first hurdle, and only the fifth time they reached the second round.
The only disappointment on the night was the low turnout, the smallest seen in this competition at Whaddon Road but the absentees missed an absolute cracker.
Few players have scored more goals against the Robins down the years than Gary Alexander and the veteran striker grabbed the opener here, taking his career total against Cheltenham to eight with his header midway through the first half.
But Matt Richards levelled the match from the penalty spot with his first goal for the club since arriving in the summer.
Nicky Adams added two goals in five second half minutes to seemingly seal the tie in Crawley's favour but goals by Terry Gornell, also opening his account, and Harrison squared the match to force extra time.
Cheltenham can now look forward to the prospect of a potential Premier League meeting in the next round, and who knows
Bradford City's exploits, in reaching last season's final at Wembley, have brought this competition sharply into focus for clubs towards the lower end of the league ladder and that was perhaps reflected on tonight's teamsheet.
Yates made his intentions clear by selecting the same side that was held to a draw by Burton Albion at the weekend with the obvious exception of the injured Jamie Cureton, who was replaced by Byron Harrison in attack.
Crawley too kept faith with the 11 that defeated Coventry City at the Broadfield Stadium on Saturday.
Billy Jones and Joe Hanks were handed places on the bench while 22-year-old winger Luke Rooney, who had earlier in the day agreed a loan deal, joined the substitutes for the Sussex side.
Crawley finished 10th in League One last term and have assembled a squad full of creative flair and attacking intent, and on this evidence they have a good chance on improving on that position this time around.
They made an assured start here, passing crisply to enjoy the lion's share of possession in the opening exchanges.
Mike Jones called Scott Brown into the evening's first save, stinging the goalkeeper's hands with a rasping drive from the edge of the box. Nicky Adams also saw a low effort held while at the other end, Troy Brown brought about a comfortable take with a looping header.
Alexander handed his side the lead with 23 minutes on the clock, stooping to meet James Hurst's delivery from the right with a header that evaded Brown to his left.
Gornell went close to posting an immediate reply, meeting Sam Deering's ball from the right with a header that Paul Jones, the Crawley number one, tipped over.
The chance had spurred Cheltenham into their best spell of the match.
They produced a passage of meaningful pressure to finish the opening period as the stronger side, and were back on terms five minutes from the break.
Harrison raced onto Deering's threaded ball and cut inside Mat Sadler, who brought the striker down to concede a penalty.
Richards stepped up and sent Jones the wrong way, placing the ball inside the left upright to register his first goal for the club since moving from Shrewsbury Town.
The game burst into life after the turnaround, both teams throwing caution to the wind in an attempt to the win it inside 90 minutes.
Russ Penn had rattled the crossbar two minutes after the restart, capitalising on Kyle McFadzean's mistake at the back to crash a shot against the woodwork while Gornwell fired over with the follow-up.
Harrison weaved his way into the box ten minutes later and tried to tee up Richards, only for Deering to steal the ball off the midfielder's toe before blasting over.
Crawley regained the lead on the hour when Adams crashed home from 18 yards, making the most of Cheltenham's failure to clear their lines. The winger's strike cannoned off Deering's leg, giving Brown little chance to intervene.
Again Gornell looked for a quick reply, drawing a smart save moments later from distance.
But Adams added a third only five minutes later, racing on to Jamie Proctor's measured ball before jinking around Brown and rolling it into the unguarded net.
Gornell reduced the deficit 20 minutes from time after another McFadzean mistake, this time slipping 30 yards from goal to release the striker one-on-one with Jones.
The goalkeeper pushed away his first effort but the Liverpudlian made no mistake with this second, tucking it away from a tight angle to claim his first for the club.
Within five minutes of the goal, Cheltenham were level after Harrison headed home Deering's corner from the left.
There was late drama: Gornell was bundled to the ground by a clutch of defenders with ten minutes remaining, but Richards blasted the free-kick into the defensive wall.
Next Harrison was presented with a golden chance to snatch a late win, only to miss the target with his header after an inch-perfect ball from Penn out on the right.
Then Alexander got in ahead of Steve Elliott, only to glance wide a late chance for a decisive goal.
Finally Simpson was denied a dramatic later winner by Brown's fantastic reaction save on the stroke of time, the best of the lot to push away a vicious 14-yard volley.
All the chances in the opening period of extra time fell to the visitors.
The first fell for Mike Jones, who skipped away from Troy Brown but dragged his effort across goal.
Both sides had added pace to their attack with the introduction of Ashley Vincent (for Deering) and Rooney (Hurst) but it was Adams with the next sight of goal, cutting inside Sido Jombati to release a powerful drive but Brown was equal to it. Substitute Billy Clarke then fired over from 20 yards.
It was a different story in the second period, and Cheltenham made the League One side pay for their missed chances to claim a dramatic win.
CHELTENHAM TOWN (4-4-2): S Brown; Jombati, T Brown, Elliott (Lowe 104), Braham-Barrett; McGlashan (Kotwica 119), Penn ©, Richards, Deering (Vincent 101); Gornell, Harrison. Subs not used: Jones, Taylor, Roberts (Gk), Hanks.
CRAWLEY TOWN (4-4-2): P Jones; Hurst (Rooney 101), McFadzean, Walsh, Sadler; Adams, Bulman (Drury 79), Simpson ©, Jones; Alexander, Proctor (Clarke 71). Subs not used: Connolly, Essam, Torres, Maddison.
REFEREE: O Langford
ATTENDANCE: 1,562 (117 from Crawley)