Cheltenham Town Ladies edged out local rivals Forest Green Rovers Ladies 1-0 in a tight affair at LCI Rail Stadium to reach the quarter finals of the GFA County Cup.
Ella Hitchcox scored the only goal of the game in the 17th minute after being put through one on one by Jade Wiltshire, she hit the post, but the rebound fell straight to her for a simple finish.
This wasn’t a game without drama though, as Forest Green hit the post twice and the bar once in just the first half.
Player of the game though, undoubtedly went to the Robins goalkeeper Bec Panniers. She made several heroic saves throughout the match proving to be reason Cheltenham advanced to the next round.
The game started out slow for both teams as they seemed to struggle to find their stride in the first 10 minutes.
But it was Forest Green with the first real chance of the game with a low cross falling to former Cheltenham Town striker Annie Martin who turned and hit the outside of the post.
Rovers continued to control play until Hitchcox was put through on goal for Cheltenham’s first chance of the game. Her shot rebounded off the post, but she was in the right place at the right time to slot in the rebound.
The Robins seemed inspired by their goal as they took control of the game mainly due to Louise Fensome who showed a lot of intelligence and composure in midfield throughout the match.
It was late in the first half before Forest Green fought their way back into the game with Jess Phillips’ shot being turned onto the bar thanks to a fantastic save by Panniers and Ashleigh Watson hitting the post from a tight angle two minutes later.
Both teams came out fighting in the second half as Cheltenham substitute Ria Salleh looped an effort over keeper Rosie Dimery before being cleared off the line by the Forest Green defence.
Martin had another chance for Forest Green moments later but was denied again by Panniers saving low down to her right sign. Then it was Marika Niekowal’s turn to test the inform keeper with her shot from outside the box, but she pulled off another outstanding save to send the ball over the bar.
There was a delay in play for Rovers captain Jess Phillips as she had to be stretchered off injured in the latter stages of the second half.
Forest Green were getting desperate in the last 10 minutes as they were trying to force an equaliser. They got that chance through Martin when the ball fell to her from six yards out but Panniers pulled off the save of the game as she tipped the ball over the bar again from close range.
Rovers had their last chance in the 83rd minute when Niekowal was put through on goal but her low shot was driven just past the post.
Cheltenham will look to continue their defence of the GFA County Cup when they face Downend Flyers away on February 18.