Full Time: Robins 1-5 EvertonEverton defeated Cheltenham Town 5-1 this evening to knock the Robins out of the FA Cup but it was a performance Mark Yates' side should have been proud with.
At times Cheltenham produced some wonderful football and Russ Penn's first goal of the season lifted the roof off the stadium but the ending was in sight with David Moyes taking no prisoners with an extremely strong Everton side. The magic of the cup was over for Cheltenham this season but there was plenty of pride coloured in ruby and white.
Cheltenham began this game well and looked more than a match for Everton but a fortunate goal for Jelavic stemming from Fellaini's strike which had struck the post handed Everton the lead. That lead was doubled soon after when a harsh penalty call from Mr. Friend on Alan Bennett allowed Leighton Baines an opportunity from the spot which he duly finished. Still Cheltenham continued to fight but an early second half goal from Leon Osman reminded the Robins how much they were in for a fight. Mark Yates' men did however grab a glimmer of hope when a fantastic move between Mohamed and Penn led to the central midfielder grabbing his first goal of the season. That goal lifted the roof off the ground but reality set back in soon after when Seamus Coleman produced a stunning lob to put Everton 4-1 up.
Cheltenham huffed and puffed and gave it their all but Fellaini's late goal sank the Robins in this FA Cup third round and fired Everton into the next stage where they would meet either Sunderland or Bolton. It had been a memorable cup run for Cheltenham and they had done themselves proud here at the Abbey Business Stadium.
To face up to this momentous task tonight, Mark Yates made two changes to the starting XI that took on Oxford on New Year's Day. Marlon Pack and Kaid Mohamed both replaced Jake Taylor and Darryl Duffy respectively. It was those eleven that would start against an Everton side clearly set up to win tonight. Global stars such as Tim Howard, Phil Neville, Leighton Baines, Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic. David Moyes had faced a traumatic giant killing at the hand's off Shrewsbury in this competition before and he was seemingly not prepared to let it happen again.
A surreal night at the Abbey Business Stadium but memorable it was sure to be with a packed house. It was an even game in the first ten minutes with both sides competing well in midfield but it was Cheltenham that looked more lively in the opening stages. Marouane Fellaini was credited with the first effort on goal in this game although his 20 yard effort was well wide of goal. The Robins were next up with their own opportunity with Mohamed leading the charge but his pass couldn't be converted by the central Darren Carter. Cheltenham's good start was undone however when Fellaini's strike hit the foot of the post and Jelavic was on hand to tap home the rebound although there was a shout for offside. It was a goal from nothing and immediately the Premiership side were now in control.
Down and out? Not a chance. Cheltenham were still going forward and looking good. Leighton Baines' foul on Jermaine McGlashan on the right wing created an opportunity from the set piece and Jones' cross found the head of Jombati but it was headed clear by the Everton defence. The following Cheltenham attack continued to test the Toffees but a long range effort from Carter was saved low by Howard. It was Scott Brown's turn to make a good save of his own from a Baines freekick and what a good save it was. However, just seconds later, Fellaini won a penalty for an incident involving Alan Bennett. England international Leighton Baines stepped up and smashed it past Brown for 2-0 in a scoreline firmly against the run of play.
A harsh penalty but Cheltenham needed to maintain their concentration in this match. They continued to attack and forge some decent opportunities but Everton had galvanised and were suddenly looking a lot stronger in their backline. Everton's two goal lead had given them an option to become more adventurous and Fellaini threatened once again to extend Cheltenham's misery but once again he effort was wide. A Cheltenham corner almost led to a goal on 33 minutes when Jelavic got up highest to head wide of his own goal. Fellaini's foul on McGlashan handed Cheltenham another opportunity from the freekick but it was cleared well but the winger had an opportunity minutes later when the corner was thumped in but he could only turn it over the bar.
A Fellaini headed half chance was Everton's final chance of the first half but Cheltenham looked as though they were building their confidence again and still they continued to press. It remained 2-0 to the Premiership giants but the Robins were by no means out of it.
Half Time: Cheltenham Town 0-2 Everton
A big half was needed from Cheltenham Town but it was Everton who started the better and Anichebe wasn't too far away when he fired an early shot wide of goal. It was 3-0 after 50 minutes when Baines stroked in a cross from the left wing which was met by Osman and the midfielder drove himself towards goal and placed the ball under Brown. Cheltenham were shell shocked and looked to the heavens in search of some divine intervention.
You would be hard pressed to find anyone who didn't think Cheltenham deserved a goal in this game and so it came to be that Russ Penn, with his first goal of the season, would lift the roof off the Abbey Business Stadium. Kaid Mohamed picked up the ball on the left wing before cutting inside and threading a neat ball past Coleman and into the path of Russ Penn who fired it into the back of the net with his left foot. It was a massive goal for the Robins and they could have had another soon after had Goulding's header connected better with McGlashan's cross.
It was a lift for Cheltenham but they were soon pegged back once again thanks to a bit of magic from Seamus Coleman. The right back flew down the right wing, exchanged passes with Anichebe, before making it 4-0 with a wonderful lob.
Still the Robins fought on but Everton had adopted a more patient approach to their passing and began to frustrate Mark Yates' side. David Moyes made his first change of the match with Gueye replacing Leighton Baines just past the hour mark. Cheltenham soon followed with a double change. Darryl Duffy and Jake Taylor replaced Jeff Goulding and Darren Carter respectively. A Jermaine McGlashan angled shot offered little to no threat on Everton's goal before Moyes introduced former Glasgow Rangers forward Steven Naismith in place of the impressive Leon Osman.
Osman coming off seemed to weaken the Everton midfield somewhat and Cheltenham had another opportunity to grab a goal back with Steve Elliott's powerful header but it was inches wide of Howard's goal and the Toffees continued to hold the Robins. A long range shot from man of the match Russell Penn stung the gloves of Howard after 78 minutes but Everton held on while Cheltenham kept up the pressure. It was a good spell for Cheltenham and Sam Deering was introduced to try and create something in the dying embers of this game. Everton had a good opportunity to make it five on 87 minutes when Naismith drifted inside and fired it in low but Brown made an excellent save to deny the Scottish international. Minutes later Darryl Duffy was denied a penalty after being brought down in the box but Kevin Friend waved play on and saw no foul. That came back to bite Cheltenham when Darryl Duffy lost possession to Anichebe and the Nigerian tore down the left before finding Fellaini in the area who professionally dispatched his effort past Brown for 5-1 and game over.
Cheltenham huffed and puffed but tanks were empty and they had given it their all. Everton had won but not after a fight from their lower league opponents.
Full Time: Cheltenham Town 1-5 Everton
Cheltenham Town FC (4-2-3-1): Brown (GK); Jombati, Bennett (C), Elliott, Jones; Carter (Taylor 66), Pack; McGlashan (Deering 81), Penn, Mohamed; Goulding (Duffy 66)
Subs not used: Roberts (GK), Lowe, Hooman, Harrad
Everton FC (4-2-3-1): Howard (GK); Coleman, Distin, Jagielka, Baines (Gueye 64); Neville (C), Osman (Naismith 69); Anichebe, Fellaini, Oviedo; Jelavic (Hitzlsperger 81)
Subs not used: Mucha (GK), Duffy, Barkley, Vellios
Referee: Mr. Kevin Friend
Attendance: 6,891 (1101 from Everton)
Robins Star Man: Russ Penn - Impressive performance that was topped off with a goal. Superb tackling and character in midfield.