Early Cup Exit for Young Robins
Cheltenham Town U18's are out of the FA Youth Cup after a heavy defeat to Plymouth Argyle in the first round at the LCI Rail Stadium.
Plymouth forward Alex Fletcher netted four goals, three of which were headers, as the visitors ran out comfortable winners in a frustrating night for Cheltenham Town, who did manage a consolation through Ben Hailwood.
It was the young Robins who started the brightest and had two good opportunities to open the scoring in the first ten minutes.
Captain Josh Thomas was denied by Argyle keeper Michael Cooper at his near post after good work on the left hand side by James Hancocks and moments later Lee Llewellyn saw his shot flash inches wide after superb footwork by George Lloyd in the build up.
Plymouth responded well to the early pressure as Alex Fletcher and Alex Battle both came close inside the six yard box but the visitors took the lead after 13 minutes when Fletcher headed home an excellent cross from the right hand side.
Fletcher continued to be a menace for the Cheltenham back four who were missing key defender Matt Bower, the lively number 9 cut in from the right and unleashed a powerful effort which was well parried by Lewis Clayton.
The game had settled down after Plymouth took the lead but Cheltenham came close in the 36th minute with an effort from George Lloyd who struck a shot from 30 yards which was tipped over by Cooper.
Despite showing positive signs the young Robins were dealt a crucial blow when Alex Fletcher headed in his second of the game just before half time.
The home side failed to deal with a corner and following a goal mouth scramble Fletcher was on hand to put Argyle two goals up.
Fletcher then completed his hat trick shortly after the interval with another well placed header into the top corner, it was a nightmare start to the second half for Cheltenham.
Ben Hailwood did manage to pull one back for the hosts in the 57th minute when he found the top left hand corner with a curling effort from the edge of the penalty area.
Ashleigh Hopkins' side were in the ascendency and they very nearly made it 3-2 in the 63rd minute as George Lloyd's shot was deflected onto the crossbar, James Hancocks was then denied by Cooper on the follow up.
But any hopes of a Cheltenham comeback were dashed when Josh Richards swept in Plymouth's fourth with just under 15 minutes remaining.
Fletcher then added a fifth, swerving to volley home inside the six yard box with his fourth of the game.
It was a disappointing night for Cheltenham as Plymouth progressed to the second round with a comfortable victory, condemning the Robins to a third straight defeat in all competitions.
Cheltenham Town U18: Lewis Clayton, Josh Thomas (c), Taylor Cordell, Ryan Davis, Jamie Kilkenny, Jacob Nutting, Lee Llewellyn, Joe Hance, Ben Hailwood, James Hancocks, George Lloyd
Subs: Archie Brennan, Tom Handley, Olly Price, Grant Horton, Jaden Maddock
Plymouth Argyle U18: Michael Cooper, Harry Hodges, Ryan Law, Aaron Taylor, Callum Rose, Jordan Bentley (c), Connor McAuley, Josh Richards, Alex Fletcher, Dan Rooney, Alex Battle
Subs: Luke Jephcott, Max Childs, Billy Craske, Elliott Crawford, Cameron Sangster
Referee: John Roskelly