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Man City avoid FA Cup shock at Robins

Published on: 23 January 2021

Cheltenham Town came within nine minutes of one of the biggest shocks in recent FA Cup history before Manchester City staged a dramatic late rally to crush the dreams of the gallant League Two side.

The Robins, 72 places below City who lie second in the Premier League, threatened huge embarrassment for Pep Guardiola's side after Alfie May put Cheltenham ahead on the hour after a trademark long throw from captain Ben Tozer caused chaos in the area.

City, who made ten changes to the team that beat Aston Villa in the Premier League on Wednesday, spared their embarrassment when Phil Foden, the game's outstanding player, arrived at the far post to turn in substitute Joao Cancelo's long cross in the 81st minute.

And the turnaround was complete three minutes later when a rare moment of slackness in the outstanding Cheltenham defence, with goalkeeper Josh Griffiths superb, switched off and Gabriel Jesus scored from Fernandinho's delivery.

Ferran Torres scored Manchester City's third with the last kick of the game to give the scoreline a cruel reflection on Cheltenham's heroic efforts.

It was so cruel on manager Michael Duff and his players, who now go back the battle for promotion from League Two, while City will be away at Swansea in the fifth round.

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Pride of Cheltenham

The sight of Manchester City manager Guardiola disputing where Cheltenham could take a throw-in said everything about the way the League Two underdogs gave their mighty opponents a serious fright.

Tozer's throw-ins were causing all manner of problems and led to Cheltenham's goal but there was so much more to their performance than that set-piece weapon, a threat any manager in the game would utilise.

Cheltenham tried to play football when they got the chance, with goalscorer May, who has done the hard yards in non-league before playing for Doncaster and now Cheltenham, a leading light.

Robins keeper Griffiths, who suffered the ignominy of being beaten from 71 yards by his Newport County opposite number Tom King in midweek, was in defiant form as he saved well from Riyad Mahrez and Torres, showing command throughout. Tozer's headed goalline clearance from Benjamin Mendy in the first half was also symbolic of their 'they shall not pass' approach.

There may have been no fans inside this compact stadium but there was still a real sense of occasion, the game being halted in the first half because of a firework display nearby.

In the end this will be a bitter disappointment to Cheltenham but they can be rightly proud and take huge confidence into their League Two promotion battle.

More to follow.

Player of the match

TozerBen Tozer

with an average of 8.77

    CheltenhamCheltenham TownCheltenham TownMan CityManchester CityManchester City

Cheltenham TownAvgSquad number4Player nameTozerAverage rating


Squad number10Player nameMayAverage rating


Squad number18Player nameAzazAverage rating


Squad number17Player nameFreestoneAverage rating


Squad number8Player nameClementsAverage rating


Squad number19Player nameLloydAverage rating


Squad number11Player nameBlairAverage rating


Squad number15Player nameBoyleAverage rating


Squad number7Player nameThomasAverage rating


Squad number5Player nameRaglanAverage rating


Squad number20Player nameGriffithsAverage rating


Squad number14Player nameWilliamsAverage rating


Squad number2Player nameLongAverage rating


Squad number16Player nameAddaiAverage rating


Manchester CityAvgSquad number47Player nameFodenAverage rating


Squad number27Player nameJoão CanceloAverage rating


Squad number8Player nameGündoganAverage rating


Squad number3Player nameRúben DiasAverage rating


Squad number21Player nameTorresAverage rating


Squad number25Player nameFernandinhoAverage rating


Squad number13Player nameSteffenAverage rating


Squad number9Player nameGabriel JesusAverage rating


Squad number69Player nameDoyleAverage rating


Squad number78Player nameHarwood-BellisAverage rating


Squad number14Player nameLaporteAverage rating


Squad number26Player nameMahrezAverage rating


Squad number50Player nameGarcíaAverage rating


Squad number22Player nameMendyAverage rating


    Line-upsMatch StatsLive Text


Formation 3-5-2


    20Griffiths5RaglanBooked at 48mins4TozerBooked at 84mins15BoyleBooked at 24mins11Blair18AzazSubstituted forWilliamsat 81'minutes7Thomas8ClementsSubstituted forAddaiat 89'minutes17Freestone10May19LloydSubstituted forLongat 69'minutes



Man City

Formation 4-4-2

13Steffen78Harwood-Bellis50García14Laporte22Mendy26Mahrez69Doyle25Fernandinho47Foden21Torres9Gabriel Jesus

    13Steffen78Harwood-BellisSubstituted forRúben Diasat 68'minutes50García14LaporteBooked at 60mins22MendySubstituted forCanceloat 77'minutes26Mahrez69DoyleSubstituted forGündoganat 68'minutes25Fernandinho47Foden21Torres9Gabriel Jesus


    3Rúben Dias7Sterling8Gündogan11Zinchenko16Rodri20Bernardo Silva27Cancelo31Ederson82Bernabé

Referee:Stuart AttwellMatch StatsHome TeamCheltenhamAway TeamMan CityPossessionHome28%Away72%ShotsHome6Away20Shots on TargetHome2Away9CornersHome5Away5FoulsHome12Away5Live TextPost update

Match ends, Cheltenham Town 1, Manchester City 3.

90'+5'Full Time

Second Half ends, Cheltenham Town 1, Manchester City 3.


Goal! Cheltenham Town 1, Manchester City 3. Ferran Torres (Manchester City) right footed shot from very close range to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ilkay Gündogan.


Substitution, Cheltenham Town. Alex Addai replaces Chris Clements.

87'Post update

Eric García (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

87'Post update

Foul by Alfie May (Cheltenham Town).

87'Post update

Attempt missed. Matty Blair (Cheltenham Town) right footed shot from the right side of the box is too high following a corner.

86'Post update

Corner, Cheltenham Town. Conceded by João Cancelo.


Ben Tozer (Cheltenham Town) is shown the yellow card.


Goal! Cheltenham Town 1, Manchester City 2. Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Fernandinho with a through ball.


Goal! Cheltenham Town 1, Manchester City 1. Phil Foden (Manchester City) left footed shot from the left side of the six yard box to the top left corner. Assisted by João Cancelo with a cross.


Substitution, Cheltenham Town. Andy Williams replaces Finn Azaz.

79'Post update

Attempt missed. João Cancelo (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left. Assisted by Riyad Mahrez.

79'Post update

Phil Foden (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

79'Post update

Foul by Conor Thomas (Cheltenham Town).

78'Post update

Attempt missed. Phil Foden (Manchester City) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by João Cancelo with a cross.


Substitution, Manchester City. João Cancelo replaces Benjamin Mendy.

76'Post update

Rúben Dias (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

76'Post update

Foul by Alfie May (Cheltenham Town).

75'Post update

Rúben Dias (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

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