Bowen and Dale on target in second round win
Two late goals earned Cheltenham Town victory in the Gloucestershire Senior Challenge Cup second round at Forest Green Rovers.
The home side took the lead four minutes after half-time and looked capable of hanging on until a late surge of Cheltenham pressure brought goals from James Bowen and Bobby Dale in the last five minutes. The Robins will now play away to Bristol City in the semi-finals.
The Cheltenham starting team, captained by Jason Taylor, featured four professionals, six scholarship players and 17-year old defender Niall Rowe, recently promoted from the development squad to the Under-18s.
Forest Green also fielded a young side, although it was experienced midfielder Steve Brogan who had the first shot of a low-key opening and Wales Under-21 goalkeeper Connor Roberts got down to save.
Cheltenham, however, enjoyed the majority of the possession in the first 20 minutes and almost took the lead when Jamal Lawrence burst forward on a solo run, his low shot being well saved by Rovers goalkeeper Paul White.
Play switched from end to end with Roberts dropping upon a shot from Dan Martin and Cheltenham's James Bowen heading narrowly over the bar from an Adam Powell corner.
Forest Green made a bright start to the second half with Dan Martin seeing a shot deflected wide and from the resulting corner, the home side took the lead when defender Jonnie Brodie fired in from close range.
Cheltenham responded with Bobbie Dale shooting over the bar from the edge of the box, Powell forcing White to touch over a dipping shot from a long way out and Bowen heading straight at the keeper from a corner.
Cheltenham were having plenty of the ball but struggled to penetrate a determined Forest Green defence. Zack Kotwica finally got through with a strong solo run on 70 minutes but his weak shot was gathered comfortably by the goalkeeper.
The Robins finally drew level five minutes from the end when Taylor won the ball and exchanged passes with Dale before crossing low from the right. Kotwica lunged in but missed the ball but Bowen arrived at the back post and made no mistake.
Bowen almost scored again seconds later but White charged out to block but the tie was finally decided two minutes into added time.
A spell of concerted Cheltenham pressure ended when substitute left-back Danny Reynolds crossed from the left, Bowen turned and shot across the face of goal and Dale raced in to score from right on the line.
FOREST GREEN ROVERS (4-4-2): White; J.Martin, Baldwin, Brodie, Pirie; Williams (Morgan 68), McGrory (Marques 76), Brogan, Bevan (Ritchings 83); D.Martin, Vieira. Other subs: Hodges (Gk), Patel
CHELTENHAM TOWN (4-4-2): Roberts; Craddock, Hamilton, Rowe, Braham-Barrett (D.Reynolds 67); Lawrence (Goodwin 82), Taylor, Powell, Bowen; Kotwica, Dale. Other subs: H.Reynolds (Gk), Daly, McFarlane